Kill Stimulus Zombie Lies

Predictably, Republicans aren't opposing the stimulus package in good faith. Just as predictably, the traditional media isn't spending enough time fact-checking Republican accusations.

Today's Paul Krugman column serves as a handy cheat-sheet of the most prominent stimulus falsehoods. The whole thing is worth a read, but here's the condensed version:

First, there's the bogus talking point that the Obama plan will cost $275,000 per job created. Why is it bogus? Because it involves taking the cost of a plan that will extend over several years, creating millions of jobs each year, and dividing it by the jobs created in just one of those years.
Next, write off anyone who asserts that it's always better to cut taxes than to increase government spending because taxpayers, not bureaucrats, are the best judges of how to spend their money.
Finally, ignore anyone who tries to make something of the fact that the new administration's chief economic adviser has in the past favored monetary policy over fiscal policy as a response to recessions.

It's true that the normal response to recessions is interest-rate cuts from the Fed, not government spending. And that might be the best option right now, if it were available. But it isn't, because we're in a situation not seen since the 1930s: the interest rates the Fed controls are already effectively at zero.

Traditional media keeps regurgitating the falsehoods, and Media Matters is all over it.

But it's an uphill battle - and the more these lies filter into mainstream press coverage, the more Democrats feel pressured to accept them as truth, even if they know better. Then we get:

Dems Defend Tax Cuts While Calling Them Ineffective

Two of the highest-profile Democrats in Congress argued on Sunday that when it comes to the economic stimulus package, spending projects will do more to jump-start the economy than tax cuts.

And then... they defended the tax cuts.

Appearing on the Sunday talk show circuit, Sen. Chuck Schumer and Speaker Nancy Pelosi touted the merits of the recovery package now making its way through Congress. But there was a peculiar logic to their defense: tax cuts would not be as effective in encouraging job growth, but they would make up a major portion of the legislation anyways.

Even with control, Democrats want to diffuse the political risk of owning the stimulus - so they agree to add bad Republican measures that will, ironically, reduce the the efficacy of the stimulus and increase the risk that Democrats will be blamed.

As Atrios says

With bipartisanship you'll not only get a compromise that sucks, when it's time to throw the bums out no one will be quite sure which party should be blamed. Then what new candidates do is just run against some generic "Washington."

Democrats have the presidency and big majorities. Instead of hiding behind the spread-the-blame-around tactic, they should announce their vision and run with it.

There's no risk-proof strategy in a crisis. But attacking the stimulus falsehoods will go a long way towards giving Dems the breathing room to pass what's needed.

Tags: 2009 Stimulus, Barack Obama, Paul Krugman (all tags)



Bi-Partiship defined

Democratic Version:

It's in the best interest of the country to reflect the ideas of the other side, so, even though we know they are probably wrong, we will meet you half way...

Republican Version:

Any idea you have is inheriently bad and/or downright evil, and ONLY our ideas have any legitimacy. When we are in power, we will ONLY inact our ideas.
When YOU are in power, you are required to meet us half-way or we will do everything in our power to obstruct you....

by WashStateBlue 2009-01-26 08:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Bi-Partiship defined

Sounds about right.  

On how many issues was BushCo willing to stonewall and risk harming our country rather than negotiating?

Quite frankly, I think people will see it for what it is, this time.  We DID just vote these people far can the GOP go with the argument that these are bad ideas, given that the people elected the people who want to enact them?  I say that we give a seat at the table to anyone who wants to work in good faith, but put a swift boot to the keister of any obstructionist types.  

by freedom78 2009-01-26 09:40AM | 0 recs
To be fair

Krugman is saying exactly the same thing as Pelosi and Schumer:

That said, there's a problem with a public-investment-only stimulus plan, namely timing. We need stimulus fast, and there's a limited supply of "shovel-ready" projects that can be started soon enough to deliver an economic boost any time soon.
What this says is that there's a reasonable economic case for including a significant amount of tax cuts in the package, mainly in year one.

(emphasis mine) 05/is-obama-relying-too-much-on-tax-cut s

Short version, tax cuts are inefficient but fast. Ergo, they suck but we need them.

by Neef 2009-01-26 09:46AM | 0 recs
Re: To be fair

But you have to keep going in that post. Krugman continues:

"But the numbers being reported -- 40 percent of the whole, two-year plan -- sound high. And all the news reports say that the high tax-cut share is intended to assuage Republicans; what this presumably means is that this was the message the off-the-record Obamanauts were told to convey."

by Josh Orton 2009-01-26 10:39AM | 0 recs
Oh I know

Krugman had issues with the percentage of tax cuts, especially at 40%. I'm not sure what he thinks now that it's down to 33%.

I was just pointing out the rough place the Dems are in. They disagree with the effectiveness of taxation as stimulus, yet they have to explain the inclusion of significant amounts of taxation as stimulus.

While this would seem to be a slam-dunk contradiction, Krugman gives reasons why some taxes are necessary. Granted, the amount of "some" is open to debate, but it's certainly different from a more typically-democratic "none".

by Neef 2009-01-26 11:23AM | 0 recs
Re: To be fair
Krugman is saying the same thing as Pelosi, Reid and Schumer.
Well yeah, but this is the liberal blogosphers and at the liberal blogosphere, tehy hate their leaders worse than they hate the leaders on the other side.
by spirowasright 2009-01-26 12:47PM | 0 recs
Re: To be fair


by Josh Orton 2009-01-26 01:53PM | 0 recs


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