Obama On Stimulus: I'm Open To Ideas

Obama's stimulus rollout hasn't received such a glowing reception so far. The reaction from Democratic Senators has ranged from disappointed ("like trickle-down" - Harkin) to guarded ("...nothing written in stone" - Reid). Smart economists like Krugman have two central concerns: the overall size of the package is too small, and the included tax cuts won't help the economy (or appease enough Republicans to justify their inclusion).

Krugman's column today didn't mince words, either:

Whatever the explanation, the Obama plan just doesn't look adequate to the economy's need. To be sure, a third of a loaf is better than none. But right now we seem to be facing two major economic gaps: the gap between the economy's potential and its likely performance, and the gap between Mr. Obama's stern economic rhetoric and his somewhat disappointing economic plan.

Asked about such criticisms today, Obama said he holds "no pride of authorship" and is open to ideas:

There's two interpretations to what might be going on. The optimistic take says that Obama's letting Democrats and Republicans alike tweak parts of his proposal, work through the legislative process, and emerge with a productive consensus package that everyone can take credit for. The pessimistic interpretation says that Obama undershot, doesn't have much room to increase the package, and hasn't quite adapted to his role as quarterback - because letting Congress off the leash will just produce an inadequate package. We'll know soon.

Tags: Barack Obama (all tags)

Comments

39 Comments

Re: Obama On Stimulus: I'm Open To Ideas

The later rings more true. I finally figured out the problem. He does not yet get that he's the President. He's not running for office, and thus, it's time to govern.  Ultimately the buck stops with him. Some part of him still thinks he's a legislative representtive rather than an executive.

by bruh3 2009-01-09 10:38AM | 0 recs
he listened to Republicans too much n/t

by esconded 2009-01-09 10:59AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama On Stimulus: I'm Open To Ideas

The poll numbers suggest that Obama is in the catbird seat on this one.

by Steve M 2009-01-09 11:17AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama On Stimulus: I'm Open To Ideas

My view of the polls

a) That's the natural thing that happens with new Presidents. I don't trust polling to tell me much more than people generally like Obama.

b) if the plan fails, let's talk poll numbers then. I don't assume that most americans even understand the plan. That's an important point

c) bush had staggering early poll numbers, and he's going down as one fo the worse presidents in modern history and is being credited with single handedly destroying the reagan revolution., at least by some conservatives.

Finally, the polls do not capture leadership. Only what the polls question.

by bruh3 2009-01-09 11:28AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama On Stimulus: I'm Open To Ideas

I'm talking about polling on the specific issue of Obama's stimulus proposal.  I assume people don't understand the details (heck, it's not even fully-formed yet), but whether the proposal has received a "glowing reception" should at least take into account the voters' perspective.

by Steve M 2009-01-09 11:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama On Stimulus: I'm Open To Ideas

Yeah, you're right that he has plenty of mandate for something big. poll is encouraging. But some Dems seem concerned that he's not spending enough of that capital with this proposal.

by Josh Orton 2009-01-09 11:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama On Stimulus: I'm Open To Ideas

Okay I took you to mean that they will be okay regardless of what he does. My view is that they want a spending plan when you get into the deepr numbers of the poll you mention. I think everyone , if they are honest, implicitly realizes after Bush that a small tax refund back or paying lesser taxes does little to result in a better economy. Obama has the advantage of this having been tried by bush, and the plan failing.

by bruh3 2009-01-09 12:02PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama On Stimulus: I'm Open To Ideas

Also, I need to stick up for Obama a certain number of times per day so I don't get called a hateful PUMA.  I'm sure you understand.

by Steve M 2009-01-09 12:22PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama On Stimulus: I'm Open To Ideas

Well, I get it from both ends. When I defended Obama's right to choose the cabinet he wants, I was an Obamabot (according to Paul Rosenberg and others). Now, that I am disagreeing with Obama on symbolic choices like Warren and policy discussions like the economic stimulus plan, I am an Obama hater/PUMA.

I always hated this phrase, but maybe here it's the right one: I guess since I am pleasing neither side that means I am getting it about right regarding accountability.

by bruh3 2009-01-09 12:36PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama On Stimulus: I'm Open To Ideas

"I always hated this phrase, but maybe here it's the right one: I guess since I am pleasing neither side that means I am getting it about right regarding accountability."

Oh, so is Obama.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/01/09 /conservative-bloggers-up_n_156699.html

P.S. Read the whole thing before replying

by YourConcernsAreNoted 2009-01-09 02:50PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama On Stimulus: I'm Open To Ideas

One time courtesy response: I am not interested in anything you have to say on anything. Good luck.

by bruh3 2009-01-09 03:28PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama On Stimulus: I'm Open To Ideas

Its an open blog, I will reply to who I want to clear  things up. It is weakness of your arguments when you back down in face of facts (Talking about the other thread).

by YourConcernsAreNoted 2009-01-09 04:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama On Stimulus: I'm Open To Ideas

To me the former rings more true based on every time I have underestimated so far I have been wrong.

by jsfox 2009-01-09 11:22AM | 0 recs
I'm not sure I get

the "gap" between rhetoric and plan. it's already 800 billion, and Obama has intimated that this is the floor. When did asking fro 800 billion after TARP become wishy-washy?

Krug is a smart guy, so if he thinks it needs to be bigger I'll agree. But to be sure, much of this controversy is due to the fact that everyone is sort of guessing. I found this little tidbit on the net:

Tax cuts have the advantage, though, that they can be put in place quickly. There's also the more ideological, if still possibly valid, argument that they don't encourage the growth of bureaucracy. And recent empirical research - some of it by Christina Romer, the UC Berkeley economist who will be chairman of Obama's Council of Economic Advisers - indicates that tax cuts have been quite effective as stimulus in the past. All of which helps explain why 40% of the Obama stimulus consists of tax reductions

Ms Romer's paper is fairly recent, Nov 2008, and can be found here. The money quote from the paper is:


Our results indicate that tax changes have very large effects on output. Our baseline specification implies that an exogenous tax increase of 1% of GDP lowers real GDP by almost 3%. Our many robustness checks for the most part point to a slightly smaller decline, but one that is still typically over 2.5%.

So, despite the blog-wisdom, and Krugman's unshakable (and admittedly deserved) assurance, there may be real economic reasons for the structure of the stimulus.

by Neef 2009-01-09 12:18PM | 0 recs
Re: I'm not sure I get

Point of fact: it's not just Krugman. It's economists in general who are saying that this is not going to solve the problem, They have been saying this for weeks. Conservative economists have been saying the same things as Krugman. Indeed, the GOP tried to find economists who agreed (if I remember correctly) with their tax cut and/or no need for a stimulus spending plan approach, and found few takers to back them up. So, to say that this is Krugman, is to miss the dynamics. This is Obama deciding he is more concerned with the appearance of bipartisanship than he is with what economists are telling him. And I don't care what Ms Romer says. The data is on on the subject regarding Bush's stimilus using the same techniques.

by bruh3 2009-01-09 12:40PM | 0 recs
You should care what Romer says

that paper may define Economic policy for the next four years. If nothing else, it's worth a skim.

That aside, the dots are pretty clear. The woman who will chair Obama's Economic Council writes a paper, post election mind you, that shows tax breaks can have a significant effect on GDP. Lo and behold, Obama's plan includes tax breaks. Voila! No need for weird conspiracy theories.

Romer may be wrong, that's for other economists to decide. But the resultant stimulus package tax breaks aren't simply political throwaways, despite all the pearl-clutching. They have a purpose.

BTW, I'd love links to these conservative economists who disagree with tax breaks. Someone should tell them they're, you know, not conservatives.

by Neef 2009-01-09 02:47PM | 0 recs
Re: You should care what Romer says

Romer is wrong. Tax policy failed under Bush. I am not going to provide you links because I don't want to spend time doing the research from what I have read in the past just to prove it to you. You can look that part up your self.

However, to show good faith. i will provide a couple of l inks regarding conservatives.

I really should not have to provide you links, but just to stop inevitable, you can't prove it, here are some:

http://money.cnn.com/2009/01/07/news/eco nomy/steering_committee_forum/index.htm

"Even some conservative economists who usually pooh-pooh huge government spending projects have said the government must spend its way out of the current downturn.

"We're going to need a fiscal stimulus plan that designs tax cuts and spending changes in the most effective way," said Martin Feldstein, past president of the National Bureau of Economic Research. "It pains me to say that, because I'm a fiscal conservative who hates deficit spending, but it is important to have that fiscal stimulus at this time."

Please don't lock on the word "some" as a validation of your position. It's the reporter hedging the bet. The point is that conservative economists even as recent as early December were saying the opposite. Context and facts matter.

Here's another link:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/07/busine ss/economy/07spend.html?_r=1

"No one illustrated the conversion to fiscal stimulus more vividly than Martin Feldstein, a Harvard economist and a well-known conservative who served for a time as a top economic adviser to President Reagan. In a paper, Mr. Feldstein noted that the usual method of reviving the economy -- lower interest rates -- was failing to work because of "a dysfunctional credit market."

You are only now with Republican push back to find any economists who will agree with them are you getting any conservative economists to say they have "doubts." Not that the spending stimulus is wrong (which is what they would say if they were certain) but that they are doubtful. These are people with big egos in general.

http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/0 1/08/off-the-bandwagon-economists-agains t-big-fiscal-stimulus/

I am curious, and don't be insulted, but do you read anything beyond blogs or adminstration officials? You should not form your opinion  on substantive matters just because Obama and his team says it or you find it on blogs. That's not going to give you an objective basis for holding them accountable. I found this information by googling because I read the articles,but did not remember where I had seen them. It took me a bout a minute to refind some of them. Why don't you knowa bout them?

by bruh3 2009-01-09 03:13PM | 0 recs
Are you serious?

What I linked you is not a blog, which you would know if you had bothered to click the link. It's a fifty-nine page paper, the kind of thing researchers put together. Your insinuation that all her research, charts and footnotes are just one big hoax is simply paranoid. It's crazy.

Watch this: You have claimed twice that she is wrong, but both you and I know you can't point to a flaw in her conclusions. You really have no idea if she's wrong, yet for some reason you think blind certainty strengthens your position.

What's actually funny is that you maintain tax policy failed under bush, yet you link to Feldstein. Do you even know who he is?

From CNN:


Father of Bush tax cuts: Recession likely
[...]
Martin Feldstein, the Harvard economist credited with being one of the fathers of the Bush administration tax cuts, says the U.S. economy is now likely to slip into a recession, and that avoiding one will take a new round of tax cuts and interest rate cuts from the Federal Reserve
{...]
While he did not serve in the Bush administration, he was an advisor to the campaign and was seen as a leading force in shaping the administration's tax cut strategy, as well as its push to privatize social security

Your last link shows a bunch of economists who don't think we should be doing the stimulus at all, which is bizarre in a thread whining that its too small.

It's obvious we're going to agree to disagree on this, it's sort of pointless to argue further. You're welcome to your opinion on the package, and I'm quite comfortable being on the other side of the debate.

by Neef 2009-01-09 04:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Are you serious?

I said the administration (as in Obama's incoming administration) or blogs.

I also provided you links to demonstrate what conservative and lieral economists were saying less than 2 days ago.

Now you claim the quick links i provided from just a couple of days ago don't prove what i said?

The bunch of economists i Linked was for intellectual honesty at the end. Which I explained. SOmething you and other obamabots may want to consider trying one day.

by bruh3 2009-01-09 04:42PM | 0 recs
Re: Are you serious?

indeed the push back from the few conservatives they were able to find for their push back story that the press likes doing were basically saying they weren't certain it would work.

by bruh3 2009-01-09 04:44PM | 0 recs
Re: You should care what Romer says

by the way, I did not provide you links to other sources, which are also out there about size of spending versus tax cuts. The problem is that the 775 bil is almost half tax cuts which no one expects to have any real impact on stimulus in the short term. I am not an expert on these things. I just try to read a lot to understand conceptually whats happening beyond reading  a view biased sources that happen to agree with people I like.

by bruh3 2009-01-09 03:15PM | 0 recs
Re: I'm not sure I get

whether raising taxes hurts gdp says nothing about the effect of lowering taxes.  Also, the issue is whether you're talking about an across-the-board tax cut or one targeted at particular classes.  The argument against Obama here is that maintain low taxes on the wealthy does nothing for the economy.

by slynch 2009-01-09 08:56PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama On Stimulus: I'm Open To Ideas

Take a deep breath everyone--read this on 538:
http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2009/01/o bamas-price-is-right-negotiating.html

I think we all should wait until the package actually move through Congress.  Obama has been "listening" to Republicans, but he's largely shut them up, also.

by esconded 2009-01-09 02:09PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama On Stimulus: I'm Open To Ideas

That analysis is retarded. The key element is the assumption that the Right will remain static or that the personalities of Democrats have all of a suddent irrevocably changed for ever. You would have to assume both to imagine that scenario described in your link. Like I said, retarded.

by bruh3 2009-01-09 02:15PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama On Stimulus: I'm Open To Ideas

If you're Mitch McConnell or Mary Landireu or Bob Corker and you see that John Kerry thinks that $800 billion is too little -- well then, 'gal darn it, this Obama fella must be doing something right.

Wow, what a brilliant plan.  And I bet Mitch McConnell would have been fooled into thinking that Obama was really on the Republicans' side and that there's no need to argue for a lower number than what Obama proposed - right up until fivethirtyeight.com gave away the game, that is.  Curses.

Or maybe Obama is proposing his $800 billion stimulus because he thinks it's the right thing to propose, and we should evaluate it on its merits rather than as some kind of double super secret fakeout.  That's the theory I'm going with, at any rate.

by Steve M 2009-01-09 02:26PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama On Stimulus: I'm Open To Ideas

NO, YOU ARE WRONG. You are a hater. Obama is always right. Even when he is wrong- he is right. That's the only "logical" view of the situation.

Sorry for the snark, but this really is getting scary the level to which people are willing to just fall into line and surrender their own ability to think for themselves about whether what is proposed makes sense without resorting to Machivellian plots on Obama's part. The simple answer is that he's a cautious guy who will have to be pushed to be bold. Rather than accepting that, the very people who need to be pushing him are making excuses for him. Not a good start.

by bruh3 2009-01-09 03:18PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama On Stimulus: I'm Open To Ideas

Democrats, whether on the hill or in the street who oppose a payroll tax cut do so for one simple reason, it takes money out of the hands of the government.  That's it, that's all, nothing more.  It wouldn't matter if economists agreed that a tax cut would solve all the world's ills, it would still be opposed by a group of people who staunchly believe that government can spend people's money better than people can spend it on their own.  People like to dress things up, make issues seem deeper that they are, thereby making themselves appear smarter (or deeper) than they are when it just comes down to whether you believe that people should spend the money they make how they see fit or whether government should take more of what people make as government can spend it better.  All that's left is how government should spend it.   I truly believe that a small core of Democrats believed that Obama was going to announce a 4 year plan reminiscent of old Soviet 5 year plans, a path to socialism, thought it'd be given a name in the vein of New Deal or Great Society.  Obama used the far left just like Bush used the far right. Get them to rally the base, get them out to vote, then pat them on the head and say "See you in four years, who else are you going to vote for?".  Did we get prayer in school, was abortion banned? No, the Republicans use the far right just like the Democrats use the far left.   The true believers, the hardcore left progressives are going to be so utterly disappointed by Obama.  Sure, it'll be light years better than Bush, but they aren't going to get the things they want. Obama is smart, he knows that if he were to do any of the things that the left really wants he'd lose Congress like Clinton did in 94.   Here's to hoping Obama is successful, implements strategies that pull our country out of recession no matter the ideology behind them and that he never has a TV show where he sits in a red shirt and berates his cabinet members.  

by mavfan2 2009-01-09 02:46PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama On Stimulus: I'm Open To Ideas

Well that argument might make sense if you are a Republican thinking the govnermnet is out to get you

The real problem with taxes is that it does not promote spending directly. It requires one to hope that people will spend the money rather than sock it away for a rainy day. THat's not a Democrat or Republican thing or even a theory. It's what has happened in recent history.

by bruh3 2009-01-09 03:20PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama On Stimulus: I'm Open To Ideas

fool.

by gak 2009-01-09 03:48PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama On Stimulus: I'm Open To Ideas

Yes, clearly, there is no conceivable reason anyone might oppose a tax cut other than blind ideology.  Good insight.

by Steve M 2009-01-09 04:13PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama On Stimulus: I'm Open To Ideas

Man. Obama is losing fast. No one in a crisis is looking for rule by committee - they're looking for the thing we haven't had for 8 years (really 28): LEADERSHIP.  

by gak 2009-01-09 03:48PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama On Stimulus: I'm Open To Ideas

It appears Congress is going to reassert its role as an equal partner in governing.  This is not a bad thing but it would have been nice if they had done it while Bush was President.

by jmnyc 2009-01-09 04:45PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama On Stimulus: I'm Open To Ideas

"Open to ideas"??? That sounds retarded.. seriously. He's the president.. lets GO! STEP IT UP BUDDY!

by obama4presidente 2009-01-09 03:58PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama On Stimulus: I'm Open To Ideas

I am not thrilled with the stimulus as currently constituted but as a former Hill staffer I can't think of an instance where Congress did not increase the size of a tax cut, infrastructure bill, etc sent to them without the threat of a veto.  The Reagan tax cuts ballooned in 1981 as has virtually every Transportation bill ever written.

This bill is going to grow and probably substantially before we are done.  I actually think starting on the smaller side is probably a smart move by Obama.  The key question is whether or not it grows in the right areas.

by jmnyc 2009-01-09 04:42PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama On Stimulus: I'm Open To Ideas

If he increases the spending to 800 bil I would think the packae would be more in line wthw hat people have saind needs to happen on spending without regard to there also being a tax portion.

by bruh3 2009-01-09 04:45PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama On Stimulus: I'm Open To Ideas

If you start at $800 bill, it will end up b/w $900 bill to $1 trill.  Congress will lard this thing up - I see no way around it.  The question is does it get larded up with tax cuts or infrastructure.  

by jmnyc 2009-01-09 04:52PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama On Stimulus: I'm Open To Ideas

Yes, that is the question. I am not sure given Obama's unwillingness to lead versus legislate, which will happen. If he leads, then like I said the tax cuts don't matter since that would pressumably mean spending. If he lets the congress play this out as a legislation it will split the baby and not provide enough spending.

by bruh3 2009-01-09 05:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama On Stimulus: I'm Open To Ideas

Obama is going to have to do a combo of lead and legislate if Congress plays its proper role of being a partner in governing rather than just rolling over as it has done in the past 8 yrs.

The other issue is that Obama is going to need anywhere from 2-4 Repub votes in the Senate depending when Minnesota and Illinois are resolved to break the fillibuster.  I'd be surprised if any Senator is going to vote to break the fillibuster and then vote against the bill so those Rs are going to have a lot of leverage to add stuff to this bill.

by jmnyc 2009-01-09 05:21PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama On Stimulus: I'm Open To Ideas

Not really. The opposite is true based on who is vulnerable for losing in 2010.

by bruh3 2009-01-09 09:03PM | 0 recs

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