Sunday, February 15, 2009

Editorial: The simulated 'stimulus'

In Friday's New York Times, Paul Krugman's "Failure To Rise" made many points regarding President Barack Obama's ho-hum, underwhelming stimulus package. (And is anyone truly surprised that Princess Tiny Meat would have an underwhelming package?) Having decided on the topic for this week's editorial Wednesday, we read Krugman with beads of sweat forming on the back of our necks, afraid he was about to require we hit the drawing boards.

Fortunately, he missed it. He came close and he raised many good points but he missed our editorial angle. Barack Obama has proposed an underwhelming and do-nothing plan that will fix nothing. Krugman notes, "For while Mr. Obama got more or less what he asked for, he almost certainly didn't ask for enough. And as Michael Hudson (CounterPunch) observed:

The first question to ask about any Recovery Program is, "Recovery for whom?" The answer given on Tuesday is, "For the people who design the Program and their constituency" -- in this case, the bank lobby. The second question is, "Just what is it they want to 'recover'?" The answer is, the Bubble Economy. For the financial sector it was a golden age. Having enjoyed the Greenspan Bubble that made them so rich, its managers would love to create yet more wealth for themselves by indebting the "real" economy yet further while inflating prices all over again to make new capital gains.

Krugman is concerned that it might be difficult to "come back for more" as a result of what he terms "the ugliness of the political debate". It was at that point that we breathed a sigh of relief because he didn't get it.

Fresh faced Cover Girl Barack

No, it's not just that Barack's been Waist Deep In The Big Ugly for some time as he has repeatedly attempted -- not unlike the previous Bully Boy -- alarm a nation so he can get the policies that he wants. It's that an element's being ignored. Krugman ignores it the same way Barack does: The people.

GM and the others in Big Auto really hoped they'd hit the US Tax Payers Sweepstake, that Ed McMahon, if not Uncle Sam, would show up in Detroit with a multi-billion dollar check. What happened? The first bail out -- the one for the banks.

And the public watched in disgust as their money was handed over to businesses that didn't play by the rules, that obviously weren't smart enough to stay in business and that didn't deserve it. And their disgust only increased as it became obvious that Congress forked over the public's monies with no checks to ensure how they'd be spent, no oversight.

Big Auto had the misfortune of showing up after that. When the banks came back begging yet again, the public made it very clear to Congress that, no way, no how, did they deserve another damn cent. Every senator and representative heard from their constituents on this and most of these elected-to-represent-the-people officials ignored the public, overrode their sentiments, and forked over more tax payer monies and, again, with no oversight, no check on how the money would be spent.

The public's damn disgusted.

They're sick of hearing "this is the big fix and we'll do this and do it this once and ___ will be back on their feet." They're sick of doing without while billions and billions go to Big Businesses, to for-profit business who are supposed to keep themselves employed and are not supposed to be dependant upon tax payer handouts.

Monday night, Barack poured on the high drama (Trina rightly called it out). He was attempting to scare the American people enough to drive up support for his tiny package. His calmer remarks included the following:

And that is why the single most important part of this Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Plan is the fact that it will save or create up to 4 million jobs, because that's what America needs most right now.
It is absolutely true that we can't depend on government alone to create jobs or economic growth. That is and must be the role of the private sector. But at this particular moment, with the private sector so weakened by this recession, the federal government is the only entity left with the resources to jolt our economy back into life. It is only government that can break the vicious cycle where lost jobs lead to people spending less money, which leads to even more layoffs. And breaking that cycle is exactly what the plan that's moving through Congress is designed to do.
When passed, this plan will ensure that Americans who've lost their jobs through no fault of their own can receive greater unemployment benefits and continue their health care coverage. We will also provide a $2,500 tax credit to folks who are struggling to pay the cost of their college tuition, and $1,000 worth of badly needed tax relief to working and middle-class families. These steps will put more money in the pockets of those Americans who are most likely to spend it, and that will help break the cycle and get our economy moving.

Note the key phrases that will haunt "the single most important part of this Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Plan is the fact that it will save or create up to 4 million jobs," "the federal government is the only entity left with the resources to jolt our economy back into life," "only government that can break the vicious cycle," "breaking that cycle is exactly what the plan that's moving through Congress is designed to do," "will put more money in the pockets of those Americans who are most likely to spend it, and that will help break the cycle and get our economy moving."

Monday night, Barack went on to key people to "tomorrow" when Secretary of the Treasury, Timothy Geithner, "will be announcing some very clear and specific plans for how we are going to start loosening up credit once again. And that means having some transparency and oversight in the system. "

Transperancy? Geithner's vague speech -- hyped by Barack -- alarmed the markets. You can find it at which is apparently Barack's next propaganda move.

But he laid down the markers, Barack did.

Krugman's worried about Congress when more money is needed (and we agree more money will be needed, the stimulus is underwhelming).

Congress isn't the problem, the public is. The public is sick of seeing their money tossed around so freely to help everyone but them. They're damn tired of all these handouts and the stimulus is nothing but more handouts to Big Business. When it fails to do what the public believes Barack has promised it will, he's a liar. He's the banks and savings and loans, the Big Auto execs, showing up to beg for more money.

And some (maybe Krugman) may think Congress can ignore the public as they did when they voted for the second bailout for the lending industry. But that bailout took place after the election, when Dems thought they were riding high and didn't give a damn about the public. When the stimulus fails to do the trick the public believes Barack has promised it will, he's going to have a really difficult time getting more money.

This was his first big bill and he could have whatever he wanted. The three Republican senators were not needed for its passage. This was the moment where a president, any president, is going to get something through Congress because it's their first big piece of legislation. Barack should have aimed high and went with what was needed and what would actually do some work. He refused to do that. He basically added $400 to Bully Boy's stimulus check last summer and that's really all he's doing for the average person. He didn't nationalize anything so these handouts to Big Business are handouts. They aren't loans that will be repaid and they certainly aren't investments because investments allow you to become a stock holder. They're handouts.

When this underwhelming package fails to get the economy on track, Barack will need to come back and ask for more. And the public will be fed up.

Big Auto felt the brunt of the public's anger but it will be spread out to others. (We are not stealing from David Sirota with that statement. David Sirota has stolen from C.I. about the free floating anger which C.I. has documented for two years now at The Common Ills and Ava and C.I. have documented throughout 2008 at this site. We'll gladly credit Sirota as the CHEAP MENTAL PICKPOCKET he is.)

Republicans are being Republicans and there's a lot of whining about that and a lot of teeth gnashing. Grow the hell up. That's what an opposition party does. If it surprises you, it's because for the last eight years while a Republican occupied the White House, the Democrats refused to act like an opposition party. The Republicans may overreach (that is their pattern) but in terms of their strategy and their actions, it is how an opposition party is supposed to act.

And Barack just gave them a gift. A stimulus that they believe is a failure. (They appear to believe it's a failure because they think it's all pork. Our position is that "pork" barely got included and "pork" -- which we see as people's programs -- needed a huge infusion of cash.) They're on the record stating it's a mistake.

Barack rolled the dice and if the underwhelming stimulus doesn't do what he said it would (and we don't believe it will), Republicans have their 2010 campaign message. And not only do Republicans have it, with the public outraged by the economic 'fix' that didn't take and Republicans calling out Barack's failure on the economy, watch and see how many Dems stand shoulder to shoulder with Barack.

He could probably try to delay any needed legislation until after the 2010 election (right after if Democrats lose big in the House, before the next Congress is sworn in) but that would help the economy how?

It would certainly help the GOP. Allowing Republican candidates to point out that not only did Barack's plan fail but he's refusing their attempts to craft a new plan.

He didn't ask for enough and his problem on that will not be the Congress, it will be the people. The people are the ones who will allow Dems in Congress (most of whom have long gotten over any of infatuation with Barack) to make a break with Barack. The Republicans will continue to oppose him and all of the big whiners screaming "We need to elect 60 or 61 Dems to the Senate" will suddenly grasp that the problem isn't with the number of Dem Senators, it's with what they're being asked to do.

Maybe fate will smile on Barack and his underwhelming package will turn out to be a miracle. If so, he'll be hailed as a winner. But anyone who crunches the numbers and notes what's dying in our economy right now, where the jobs are, which jobs are being lost, will be underwhelmed by his appalling FDR retread -- one that appears to think the job market today is made up of the same labor force as it was in the 1930s.

The Underwhelming Barack His Tiny, Tiny Package.


This editorial was written by The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, and Ava, Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man, C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills), Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, Ruth of Ruth's Report, Trina of Trina's Kitchen, Wally of The Daily Jot, Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ and Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends
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