Sunday, February 15, 2009

So Far So Good


There's been talk recently about the disappointment of the Obama presidency- three weeks into his term.

Even to the credulous such talk must come off as strange. Less than a month  in and we hear of his failure to deliver the goods. 

The bottom line from the first three weeks is simply this : Obama pushed through his stimulus plan against a loggerhead Republican wedge. The reaction that's been reported varies from judging it inadequate, to poorly focused, to the wrong solution to the current situation. Of all the arguments the last is the most vexing,Why? Because it denies Keynes's' theory of deficit spending in times of economic hardship any validity. It's all money thrown out, lost forever and a debt on future generations. It's as if they all forget Keynes had a second half to his plan, ie spending that stimulates growth is paid for by that growth in part, and more fully when the economy recovers and growth accelerates.

It does work. World War II really kicked the hell out of the Great Depression, but then do we all really want to go there again. Spending on that scale but for projects that can put the United States in an better place when there is a recovery , ie adopting computerized medical records, improved infrastructure, developing alternative fuel sources all sounds so much better than a global conflict where millions die and the suffering is a collective memory for generations to come. Don't you think?

Frank Rich breaks down the cant here. He makes a persuasive argument that the backlash against Obama's plan is largely manufactured, the sort of double talk that Karl Rove could once orchestrate with such flair, but now seemingly lost in a Washington echo chamber that Obama's Chicago nerve center finds irrelevant and as far as the polls indicate so too do the public at large.

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