the obama stimulus plan, and the team to sell it

I’d be a liar if I told you that I liked the fact that Obama is naming so many Clinton retreads to his cabinet. The idealist in me wants to see new faces and bold change. I suspect, however, that he’s doing exactly what he needs to do, given the ambitious agenda that he’s got planned. Carter, as I understand it, took power with a band of Washington outsiders, and paid dearly for it. His legislative initiatives were, for the most part, dead on arrival. Obama, I’m certain, is just putting the people in place whom he feels have the best chance of getting legislation through. So, while it bugs the hell out of me to hear Republican commentators praising the choices he’s made thus far, I keep telling myself that there’s a reason, and it’s not just because he plans to continue the status quo.

Based on his most recent statements concerning the economy, it certainly doesn’t sound as though he’s got more of the same in mind when it comes to running the government. Yesterday, he called for 2.5 million new jobs to be created by 2011, putting Americans to work modernizing schools, repairing transportation infrastructure, and building alternative energy facilities. And, according to today’s New York Times, indications are that he will begin pushing his plan through Congress, “even before taking office.”

Here’s video of Obama’s Saturday announcement:

So, yeah, I’m willing to cut him some slack for taking right-leaning Clinton retreads onboard, as long as he’s pushing forward an agenda that deals head-on with the serious issues confronting us, like restoring the Constitution, getting the economy turned around, transitioning the country away from oil, and providing comprehensive healthcare for our citizens… Creating jobs to fix our neglected infrastructure and build our capacity for the production of alternative energy is the right way to go, and, if it takes a cabinet of Clinton folks to get us there, I’m OK with it… Hell, at this point, I’d even be OK with him naming Cheney to his cabinet, if I thought that it might somehow help get our nation back on track.

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  1. Brackache
    Posted November 23, 2008 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

    Love you guys and all, but I’m really not buying that Obama or anyone else can fix our economic problems.

    Where’s the money going to come from to pay the workers in all these “created” jobs? Tax, borrow, and inflate are the only means governments can get money to redistribute. If everyone’s losing their jobs, there’s no one to tax; if other countries are blaming the US for a world wide recession, they might not loan money to us anymore; if we inflate the money supply any worse, the dollar will be destroyed. We’ve put off a deserved recession a long time (by borrowing and inflating), but eventually we’re going to come up against an unavoidable deadline, and I think it’ll be sooner rather than later.

    But who knows, someone might come up with some sneaky immoral way to put it off a few years longer. It’s worked before… leading us to the shit hole we’re in now.

  2. CKL
    Posted November 24, 2008 at 7:03 am | Permalink


    FDR did it, mostly successfully, during GD-1. There’s just as much money as there was before. The problem in depressed economic times is, much of it goes out of circulation.

    Damn, we *need* to reinforce infrastructures. I’d say it’s worth a try, but: What else you got?

  3. sherry
    Posted November 24, 2008 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    Any way you slice this, our economy is in very dark and disturbing times. We are standing on the edge of an abyss with one foot half way already down into it. It seems like as a nation we are running around like chickens with our heads cut off. Everyone knows we are in deep despair but no one seems to be able to agree on what to do about it. So much attention has been given to the mortgage crisis that little attention or credit for what the high cost of fuel this past year has played in our downward spiral. That one single factor caused families to break the budget at the pump alone. Consumer goods in every capacity from production to shipping passed the increased costs on to us. (and most products now cost more and come in smaller packages) Electric companies sought and were granted huge price increases. We cut back, quit going out to eat as much or at all, quit spending on frills and even necessities, that sadly resulted in even more jobs being lost. It has been a real catch-22 in the economy. Record jobs and homes are being lost still. Unemployment is climbing every day. While most of the public seem to be doing the happy dance around the pumps, and reporters are reporting the happy dance, little is being reported about OPEC’s plans to keep cutting production and they will until they get prices back up where they want them to be. The average family is so far behind they will never get caught up. Jeff Wilson has an interesting book just out called The Manhattan Project of 2009. I heard him on a radio talk show interview and he blew me out of the water. I got his book on Amazon. I think we are going about this whole thing wrong. WE keep spending billions on bailouts and stimulus checks. Why not invest in creating improved grids, infrastructures, and creating millions of badly needed new green collar jobs? The last stimulus package cost us 168 BILLION and did NOTHING to stimulate our economy. That would have gone a long way toward starting up alternative energy projects and creating new jobs. Check out what they are doing in California.Check out this link to read the news. This is so exciting for those who realize the importance of seeing out country transfrom away from fossil fuels and to cleaner, cheaper electric cars. I read about this in Jeff Wilson’s book The Manhattan Project of 2009. I am thrilled and surpriesed to see it taking place so soon. Go The Manhattan Project of 2009, Go Jeff Wilson for writing this enlightening book, Go California, Go Arnold, and GO BETTER PLACE…IT IS ENCOURAGING TO SEE THERE ARE THOSE OUT THERE WHO ACTUALLY GET IT. HOPEFULLY WASHINGTON WILL FOLLOW SUITE SOON! Link to news story below or simply type electric car infrastructure california or Better Place into search engine.

  4. Brackache
    Posted November 24, 2008 at 11:19 am | Permalink


    1) Most historians seem to agree that the New Deal programs didn’t help solve the Great Depression. Many, including Ben Bernanke, believe FDR’s programs prolonged it unnecessarily. WWII production got us out of the Great Depression. Maybe Obama should start WWIII.

    2) The dollar was still tied to gold back then, not 100% if memory serves, but it was still backed by it somewhat. Ever since 1971, the dollar has been backed by nothing (Nixon’s fault).

    3) Related to 2, take a look at how much the dollar is worth now compared to what it was worth in the 30’s. That’s 80 years of fiat inflation that FDR didn’t have to deal with, but we do. Printing up more money and injecting it into the mix via bailouts or whatever may temporarily make everybody happy, but it just creates a little temporary bubble (which get littler and more temporary every time they do it).

    4) Most of our spending is payed for by borrowing from other countries. As far as our creditors are concerned, we’re not at the beginning of a new credit card, we’re at the end of the old one, and we’re showing no sign of being willing or able to pay up. If other countries, like China, decide they won’t loan to us anymore (which they’ve made some noises about lately), say goodbuy to Government cheese.

    If somebody’s got a better idea of how we’d pay for all that federal “job creation” in a way that’s economically sustainable, I’m all ears.

  5. Meta
    Posted November 24, 2008 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    From Think Progress:

    In the past, rewriting the history of the Great Depression remained the favored pasttime of activists on the radical right: Grover Norquist, Jonah Goldberg, and the Heritage Foundation. In their erroneous view, FDR’s New Deal was not only ineffective, but was responsible for “prolonging” the Great Depression. Increasingly, however, this view is breaking into the mainstream. Yesterday, for example, conservative columnist George Will said on ABC’s This Week, “Before we go into a new New Deal, can we just acknowledge that the first New Deal didn’t work?” But as Brad DeLong, Paul Krugman, and others explain, the New Deal did in fact work for Americans. Where the New Deal had shortcomings, they were the result of the initiative not being bold enough in the short-term. DeLong explained recently that after the New Deal policies went into effect, “[p]rivate investment recovered in a healthy fashion,” but as the economic outlook began to brighten, Roosevelt chose to “adopt more ‘orthodox’ economic policies and try to move the budget toward balance.” Roosevelt’s attempt to return to “conservative budget principles” by cutting spending and raising taxes precipitated “an economic relapse that drove the unemployment rate back into double digits.” “What saved the economy, and the New Deal, was the enormous public works project known as World War II, which finally provided a fiscal stimulus adequate to the economy’s needs,” Krugman wrote.

  6. kjc
    Posted November 24, 2008 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Meta.

  7. Brackache
    Posted November 24, 2008 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    Nice unbiased source.

  8. Brackache
    Posted November 24, 2008 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    … which still doesn’t explain where Obama plans to get the money to pay the workers in the jobs he’s “creating,” nor does it speak to our imminant credit, inflation, and foreign borrowing crises.

  9. Brackache
    Posted November 24, 2008 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    I just realized at the end, he says WWII saved the day after FDR screwed everything up, which is what I said in the first place. He seems to conclude, however, that trying to balance the budget is a stupid idea, and that FDR should have just spent the hell out of everything and not given a damn about the budget. Well, that’s pretty much Bush’s economic policy too. And we have been doing it for decades, maybe not as “boldly” as Krugman would have wanted, but that’s exactly why our dollar is worth so much less today than it was back in the day. I can look pretty prosperous too if I get a bunch of credit cards and max them all out thoughtlessly, thinking I’ll never suffer any consequences for it. That’s good economic policy, is it? Run up credit to keep the hoovervilles off your lawn and pass the buck to future generations?

  10. Posted November 24, 2008 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

    Nice reading comprehension, brackache.

    he says WWII saved the day after FDR screwed everything up, which is what I said in the first place

    No, your version is “the New Deal was massive government spending that failed and failed until WW2 bailed it out.”

    Krugman’s version is “the New Deal was massive government spending that worked until FDR chickened out and cut spending, at which point it failed until WW2 bailed it out.”

    You say FDR screwed it up by spending. Krugman says FDR screwed it up by stopping spending. We have a clear Austrian vs. Keynesian disagreement here, not Krugman proving your point. (It’s closer to true that you prove Krugman’s point, by agreeing with him on WW2 – “The New Deal would have worked, but it didn’t spend enough money – until WW2 came along!”)

    I abhor Bush’s budget’s (and budget deficits) too. But there’s a vast gap between the New Deal and Bush’s deficits of the past few years that you’re glossing over in your blind rush to demonize all government spending. The New Deal was intended as a short-term/emergency deficit spending program to (a) hire unemployed workers, and (b) take on projects of general benefit to the community/state/nation. The Bush Deal was intended as a permanent program of deficit spending to (a) push money to the people who already had it, and (b) provide private benefit to a small group of people.

  11. mark
    Posted November 24, 2008 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

    I love you Brackache, but I think that Meta and Murph have you on this one.

  12. Brackache
    Posted November 24, 2008 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

    Mark, your love encourages me to soar like an eagle.

    Murph, I completely understood that Krugman and I were getting at completely different points. I summed it up to be funny, and I still think it’s funny that we agreed on WWII ending the Great Depression after FDR screwed everything up, even though we draw completely different conclusions from that. So we all agree on that then? WWII ended the Great Depression after FDR screwed everything up? Super. We do disagree on how FDR screwed everything up though, obviously. But come on, it’s funny.

    As far as the alleged spending vindication, WWII added an ingredient to mix: real fucking critical demand — it wasn’t just throwing more money at industry. The New Deal couldn’t match that. Everybody has to work hard in crucial jobs to make tanks and planes and ships, which get blown up, shot down, and sunk, so everyone has to keep making more. They weren’t just dumping milk into ditches to artificially decrease supply, this shit was real. Not that I’m a proponant of getting us into WWIII just to increase demand for continually blown-up American industry products, but that’s what did it at the time, not just superspending.

    The critical issues here that everyone is dancing around in favor of soft-targetting my reading comprehension skills (understandably based on how I succinctly phrased things) are inflation and foreign borrowing TODAY rather than in the 30’s/40’s. Like I said, back then was much nearer the beginning of our current inflationary period than we are now. The dollar was more of a sure investment than it is now.

    The question is: will Obama be able to pay American workers in the public works jobs he plans on creating? If so, how? Taxes, inflation, or borrowing? My doubts arise because I think we’re nearing the end of our ability to do any of those on the scale required to make a positive effect on our economy at this time, and that any of those means would in fact worsen the economy. At this time. Now. In 2008. Because NOW we’re reaching the end of an unsustainable economic philosophy advanced most famously by FDR, and the bill is coming due.

    As one small example we’re all familiar with, those Baby Boomers (I like to think of them as Hitler’s Revenge) are going to all start sucking dry Social Security. That’s a lot of money that could go to public works payroll.

  13. mark
    Posted November 24, 2008 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

    I think we can all agree that the Baby Boomers should be eaten.

    I know it sounds horrible, but, if it helps any, I suspect they’ll taste like veal.

  14. CKL
    Posted November 25, 2008 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    Thanks, Mark.


    Did not know about 2; points 3 and 4 are well taken.

    And, yeah, of course, WWII truly brought us out of the Depression.

    However, I can’t agree that the New Deal was virtually worthless. It put *millions* back to work. We needed roads, bridges, schools, reinforcement for crumbling structures. And people needed jobs. And the dignity of work. Jeez, it wasn’t perfect (what is?), but it was a damn sight better than whatever Hoover was attempting.

  15. Brackache
    Posted November 25, 2008 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    I can agree that New Deal programs put a lot of people to work and built useful infrastructure.

    I’ll dispense with the usual fly-in-the-ointment caveats at this time so we can all end this thread on a harmonious note, in case we have to work together in the cannibal holocaust.

  16. Posted November 25, 2008 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    I can’t wait for the cannibal holocaust.

  17. Posted November 25, 2008 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    I would much rather see government invest in road repair and school building that will actually put people back to work and spending money than blank checks given to belly up conpanies.

  18. Curt Waugh
    Posted November 25, 2008 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    Isn’t our whole excessive road system — and the behemoth vehicles that use it — part of the reason we’re in this mess? Do we really need more roads? How ’bout more internet connectivity? How about better school supplies? Maybe a train?

    I’m just sayin’: Roads aren’t the answer in my opinion.

  19. Posted November 25, 2008 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    Personally, I would like the state to pave my dirt road. It’s the answer in my opinion. Some internet connecticity would be good, but there’s lots of place with bad roads that need to be fixed and dirt roads that need to be paved.

    Maybe they could build me a swimming pool, too.

  20. Brackache
    Posted November 25, 2008 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    I liked living on a dirt road. A nice farmer would come along every so often with some big ass farm machine or other and even out the washboard, just cause he felt like it. Seemed more alive and natural than dead oil-saturated boring ass pavement.

    So are you guys seeing in the news today that Obama wants to cut some government programs and streamline others?* Did you know you were voting for a smaller-government, cutting-spending type of guy? I’m glad I didn’t offer to eat anything weird regarding his funding cuts!

    *I just read the headlines. I have no idea what the details are.

  21. Posted November 25, 2008 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    I’m into the dirt road, but it sucks in the winter and it costs me money in wear and tear on my car. If it didn’t cost me so much damn money and wasn’t such a pain in the ass in the winter, I’d be into it.

    Obama needs to cut things that need to be cut. Like the lawn. I think he should get out there and do it himself and save the taxpayers money.

  22. Brackache
    Posted November 25, 2008 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    Just pave the lawns already. There. I created a job.

  23. kjc
    Posted November 25, 2008 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    Nice post, Murph.

  24. Kent
    Posted November 25, 2008 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    When he said infrastructure, I don’t think he was limiting it to roads. I think that he meant our electrical transmission infrastructure, rail lines and any number of other things.

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