Monday, February 16, 2009

Stim Bill Isn't Sufficiently Super-Sized

President Obama will likely sign a stimulus bill this week roughly the same size he initially offered, but wholly different in composition. Some like Robert Reich and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman never thought it was large enough in the first place, and the watered down bill is furthering their anxiety. Krugman wrote last week:
And I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach — a feeling that America just isn’t rising to the greatest economic challenge in 70 years. The best may not lack all conviction, but they seem alarmingly willing to settle for half-measures. And the worst are, as ever, full of passionate intensity, oblivious to the grotesque failure of their doctrine in practice.
During a speech last month at The Commonwealth Club of California, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich reiterated his belief that the stimulus bill should be over $900 billion or more over the next two years. On his blog he wrote this week:

But what if the stimulus isn't big enough? (I fear it won't be, given the large and growing gap between what the economy can produce at near full-employment and the meager demand coming from consumers and businesses.) And what if the bailout doesn't quite work? (It may not, given that the banking system is collapsing and many banks are actually insolvent.) The economy in November of 2010 may be worse than it is now, with no turnaround in sight.

Reich also predicted during his Commonwealth Club address that President Obama might bargain with Republicans to win votes in a bipartisan fashion. This indeed occurred, and the nearly across-the-board rejection by Republicans of the plan has rankled many Democrats. Joan Walsh at Salon wrote today about President Obama, "He better have learned that Washington bipartisanship is dead." Even the president's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, admitted that working with congressional Republicans who were dead set against the bill was a mistake. Not surprisingly, the editors at the conservative National Review declared President Obama's economic plan already has a ring of "no-confidence" surrounding it.

This article and others can be read at the Commonwealth Club of California's blog,

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