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.