Sunday, February 08, 2009

Stimulus compromise

The votes aren't final, and even once the Senate has voted, there's still the conference committee, but I think we can all be glad that the moderate, fiscally conservative members of the Senate have come together to strip out 500,000 new jobs from the stimulus package, stop new schools from being built, and help states go further into the red.

Although that last part is a bit misleading. Most of the states that would have gotten money under the stimulus bill as it came to the Senate have balanced budget amendments, which means that they can't run a deficit when times are hard. Instead, they have to either raise taxes or cut jobs.

Missouri, saddled with a particularly vicious Republican party, has decided to go the "cut jobs" route. See, if the governor tried to raise taxes in any way the legislature would A. stop him from doing it and B. attack him day and night for the next four years for it, even if it's the responsible thing to do.

I am so tired of a two party system where one party has embraced ignorance as a virtue and considers empiricism to be symptomatic of a lack of faith in ones principles. And I'm also tired of a media that sees two people screaming at each other to be a reasonable debate, and assumes that there is some reasonable middle ground. What the current Republican party believes (all government spending is bad for the economy and tax cuts are the only ideologically acceptable way to stimulate the economy) is factually incorrect, and every attempt to appease these nutjobs is damaging the economy.

The Senate either needs to designate the stimulus bill as a budget bill so that it can't be filibustered, or they need to make the Republicans actually get up and give speeches when they say they want to filibuster something, instead of just waving a filibuster card that magically requires 60 votes to get around. And the media needs to start calling a filibuster a filibuster.


cleek said...

I'd like to talk to you about this sometime. I've been looking at a lot of graphs lately to try to cut through some of the bullshit that gets spewed by idealogues on both sides of the aisle. I've found some interesting information regarding the effectiveness of both government spending and tax cuts; I'd be curious to know your take on the empirical evidence. From what I can tell so far it seems like both sides are right about what works, but both sides are wrong about what does not work (or at least misguided and misinformed) .

Mike said...

It seems like food stamps and unemployment compensation are the best form of economic stimulus in terms of bang for your buck, but there have got to be some limits as to how many dollars you can pour in there before you hit a point of diminishing returns.

Personally, I favor a lot of spending on durable things like new schools (one of the things they just cut) and infrastructure because:

1. The people it puts back to work are precisely the people put out of work by the collapse of housing,

2. We badly need it (at least in Columbia), and

3. It's cheaper to do it now than it would be to do it when we're not in recession.

I'll admit, I'd like to have a big check from the gov't, but I'd be conflicted, as the best thing for my family would be to save it, but the best thing for the economy would be to blow it, preferably at someplace seriously local.