Stimulus Status

While most of the headlines these days seem to be about Obama’s cruelty in setting a $500,000 pay cap on the CEOs of banks taking federal bailout funds, there are other things going on relative to the economy that demand our attention. Most notably, the stimulus package that passed the House is being rewritten in the Senate to better serve the interests of the wealthy. Following is a clip from the daily newsletter of the Center for American Progress:

…Last week, the Senate took up the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, an economic stimulus package aimed at boosting the tanking economy. The legislation that emerged from the Senate debate, which is up for a procedural vote today, is substantively different from that which passed the House in January. The differences are due to an effort by a group of “centrist” senators — the ‘gang of moderates’ — to rein in what they characterized as unnecessary spending in the House version. Led by Sens. Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Susan Collins (R-ME), the gang crafted a compromise that cut spending in the bill by about $100 billion, reducing the total cost to about $780 billion. However, that total does not factor in two new tax breaks that the Senate added — one for new car purchases and another for home-buyers. With these tax breaks added in, the estimated cost stands at about $827 billion. As a result of the “compromise,” though, the Senate bill is now inferior to the House’s in terms of stimulative effect. More than two-thirds of the cuts are in areas that would provide the most effective stimulus. As the Center for American Progress’ Michael Ettlinger wrote, “there are other smaller cuts in the remaining third that make little sense if the goal is, in fact, to weed out the least effective stimulus provisions”…

And, for what it’s worth, Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman isn’t so happy about the work of the so-called “centrists” either. Here’s a clip from his most recent editorial in the New York Times:

What do you call someone who eliminates hundreds of thousands of American jobs, deprives millions of adequate health care and nutrition, undermines schools, but offers a $15,000 bonus to affluent people who flip their houses?

A proud centrist. For that is what the senators who ended up calling the tune on the stimulus bill just accomplished.

Even if the original Obama plan — around $800 billion in stimulus, with a substantial fraction of that total given over to ineffective tax cuts — had been enacted, it wouldn’t have been enough to fill the looming hole in the U.S. economy, which the Congressional Budget Office estimates will amount to $2.9 trillion over the next three years…

One of the best features of the original plan was aid to cash-strapped state governments, which would have provided a quick boost to the economy while preserving essential services. But the centrists insisted on a $40 billion cut in that spending.

The original plan also included badly needed spending on school construction; $16 billion of that spending was cut. It included aid to the unemployed, especially help in maintaining health care — cut. Food stamps — cut. All in all, more than $80 billion was cut from the plan, with the great bulk of those cuts falling on precisely the measures that would do the most to reduce the depth and pain of this slump.

On the other hand, the centrists were apparently just fine with one of the worst provisions in the Senate bill, a tax credit for home buyers. Dean Baker of the Center for Economic Policy Research calls this the “flip your house to your brother” provision: it will cost a lot of money while doing nothing to help the economy…

Granted, I don’t have a lot of experience with such things, but it seems to me that a functional Democratic party with majorities in both the House and Senate, and a still very popular President could push back on some of these things, like the slashing of the budget for school construction. I know that Obama needs to wrap this up, and get his first legislative victory under his belt, but it seems to me that he could have pushed harder against tax cuts for the rich, and on behalf of the American middle class.

Anyway, here’s Obama during Monday night’s press conference, talking about the proposed stimulus package.

[The follow-up Q&A can be found here: Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.]

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  1. Mike
    Posted February 10, 2009 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    I’m gonna be honest, I can barely read. With that said, I just hope the 15K homeowners bill passes. That way it will wipeout the 7500 “credit” I just filed for on my taxes.

  2. Meta
    Posted February 10, 2009 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    Video of Obama last night talking about the package.

  3. Steph's Dad
    Posted February 10, 2009 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    See Also

  4. EOS
    Posted February 10, 2009 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    See Also

  5. Meta
    Posted February 10, 2009 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    The Senate just approved the package.

  6. Paw
    Posted February 10, 2009 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    It’s not a perfect bill by any means, but it’s a damn site better than just cutting taxes on the rich, which was the one and only solution offered these past many years. I do wonder, however, if we’re totally screwing the future generations.

  7. Brackinald Achery
    Posted February 10, 2009 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    Anybody got stuff to barter besides blowjobs and bad art?

  8. Bill Biggs
    Posted February 10, 2009 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    And don’t forget this.

  9. Posted February 10, 2009 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

    Fucking Harry Reid needs to force the Republicans to ACTUALLY filibuster. Instead, he’s a great big goddamn wuss about cloture votes. Both he and Pelosi need to be ousted and we need to get someone with guts back in there.

  10. Brackinald Achery
    Posted February 10, 2009 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

    See also:

  11. Brackinald Achery
    Posted February 10, 2009 at 8:25 pm | Permalink


    Another bailout waiting to happen? When the big bailer-outers need to be bailed out, who do they go to for money? Zeus?

  12. Brackinald Achery
    Posted February 10, 2009 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

    A bunch more of some guy’s words on a web page.

    I’m like 2 posts away from getting my knuckles rapped again, I can feel it.

  13. Ol' E Cross
    Posted February 11, 2009 at 12:34 am | Permalink

    Brackibald Aching.

    Can you prioritize and perhaps preview the links of what different dudes said before I click em? Maybe even offer a summary or review? I’m sleepy. Nevermind.

  14. Brackinald Achery
    Posted February 11, 2009 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    I’m not your mother. Just don’t read them.

  15. Brackinald Achery
    Posted February 11, 2009 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    Okay fine. The long url was about the stock market hating the new stimulus/bailout, the “interesting” clicky was about the IMF running out of money for with to bail countries out… with, and my last one was just an in general review about why our fed’s handling of the economic crisis is exactly wrong.

  16. Posted February 11, 2009 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    I agree with js; that’s what I’ve been saying for a while. Reid needs to get them on a really petty issue and make them stand there and read the phone book for a few days; that would get McConnell et al to back off on the threats pretty quickly.

  17. Posted February 11, 2009 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    But just today, Pelosi was saying how the House looks forward to compromising on their bill. FUCK! Why are these people in charge?

  18. Ol' E Cross
    Posted February 12, 2009 at 11:36 pm | Permalink


    Thank you for the summaries, and I did read them. The most interesting was from Ambrose (you’re quoting someone named Ambrose?! Ha-ha!!) whose works are elsewhere described as a militiaman’s wet dream.

    I think I’m missing something and not seeing the connections you’re making? (I’m not a global economy whiz, so I may be a bit slow on this.)

  19. Madame Curie
    Posted February 13, 2009 at 12:10 am | Permalink

    With all due respect, Lord Brackinald, Sir Ambrose Evans-Pritchard hasn’t offered a “general” view once in his life. He is rather a pious puff of nonsense. I rather think he’s best kept in a lead-lined boxed, don’t you agree?

  20. Brackinald Achery
    Posted February 13, 2009 at 12:11 am | Permalink

    The point I’m making is that I believe the stimulus package is going to make everything worse, because I believe economic interventionism is destined to fail in the end. Every so often when I run across something that reflects my views, I post it here, because that is my sole purpose on markmarnard dot com … to be the token likable/hateable libertarian guy, lest things get too politically incestuous, and our worldviews become banjo playing flipper babies.

    Also, I can’t stash emergency food for everyone, so I hope people will stash their own emergency food, so I don’t have to be unable to help a bunch of panicky starving assholes who had every chance in the world to not be panicky starving assholes but blew it. I’m figuring out ways I can help, just in case, but providing an emergency food supply for everyone else isn’t one of them. Can’t do it. Don’t have the resources.

    There it is, that’s pretty much my whole motivation. And so no one can rewrite history and blame hyperinflation on free market capitalism. That too. Because lies piss me off.

  21. kjc
    Posted February 13, 2009 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    Because lies piss me off.

    I hear that. I feel the same way every time someone says “the market will correct itself.”

  22. kjc
    Posted February 13, 2009 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    (eh, italics…)

  23. Posted February 13, 2009 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    our worldviews become banjo playing flipper babies.

    That might be just what we need to prosper in these hard economic ties.

  24. Brackache
    Posted February 13, 2009 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    Uh, kjc, the market is correcting itself. That’s what a bursting bubble is. If you don’t inflate it in the first place via unrealistically low interest rates set by the fed (who aren’t constitutionally authorized to do so), the price correction would be more of a blessing than a curse. New home buyers are finding it more of a blessing, anyway. The government intervening by shoveling new money into the system to rescue people who made unwise investments because of the fed-inflated bubble is what’s going to keep the market from correcting itself, and set off … dum dum dum… hyperinflation.

  25. kjc
    Posted February 13, 2009 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    Uh, Brackache, I don’t subscribe to your economic theory. Which you know.

  26. Brackinald Achery
    Posted February 13, 2009 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    So you don’t believe the market will correct itself even while it’s correcting itself, because you don’t believe the market will correct itself, and therefore no matter what happens, it can’t possibly be that thing you don’t believe, because you don’t believe it? That line of reasoning would explain why I’m having such a hard time persuading anyone.

  27. kjc
    Posted February 13, 2009 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    Dude…oy. You know there are all sorts of assumptions (some might say simplifications) involved in your argument that others reasonably do not share (believe).

    Or if you don’t , you should. That might help you understand why your argument is not persuasive to anyone who is not like-minded. But it’s not worth rehashing for me. I’m just glad your guys aren’t in power anymore.

  28. Brackinald Achery
    Posted February 13, 2009 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    Small government noninterventionists were in power? In this century? Damn, I missed it.

  29. kjc
    Posted February 13, 2009 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    I guess the dream looks different than the reality.

  30. Brackinald Achery
    Posted February 13, 2009 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    I guess small government interventionists can be known by their fruits, not by their rhetoric or the letter after their names. I’ve learned a lot in the past 8 years about that; not sure if everyone else has.

    Here is an interesting article from Reason whose author is also of the opinion that the stimulus package won’t work, just like Bush’s big government interventionist stimulus packages didn’t work.

  31. Brackinald Achery
    Posted February 13, 2009 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    Yet another in a seemingly neverending series of articles I find myself posting in this thread. This one is about Hoover’s being an economic interventionist, not the free-marketteer he’s falsely portrayed as, and how his interventionism helped cause the Great Depression. Wall St. Journal.

  32. Ol' E Cross
    Posted February 13, 2009 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

    BA. Can you point to a president or administration that fits your model of a small government non interventionist? U.S. would be preferred, but any country will do. I’m not trying to be snarky in the least, I just really have no concept of who fit the bill and when.

    If you’re going to shake all the apples from the tree, I think it’d be fair to identify an orange…

  33. Brackinald Achery
    Posted February 15, 2009 at 12:52 am | Permalink

    The first one off the top of my head is Coolidge. I’m sure he did a few things I’d disagree with, but, for the sake of your sincere nongotcha inquiry, he’ll do for now.

  34. Posted February 15, 2009 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

    Here I go again

    I had a thought a minute ago, as I was standing in the shower – Black Jake should cover White Snake.

    Their names sound alike, you see… So, it would be funny.

    OK, go back to your crazy talk now.

  35. Ol' E Cross
    Posted February 15, 2009 at 11:20 pm | Permalink


    I know White Snake is a genitalia reference. (I guess we know why you thought of this in the shower.) Is Black Jake one as well? Inquiring minds want to know…Black Jake? If so, what exactly are the carnies?


    That’s a gutsy choice. I honestly thought you’d go back further. Coolidge sat by and watched the great depression build and build (and was willing to let the bubble burst). It’s too bad he didn’t seek re-election (I’m serious). It’d be historically more interesting, anyhow, to see how a continuation of his hands-off approach would’ve turned out in the long(er) run. Instead, we get government intervention from Hoover to Roosevelt and widely varying speculation from multiple sides on what would’ve happened if Coolidge remained.

  36. Posted February 16, 2009 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    Mark, not a bad idea. Usually I try to stick to covering 80’s chick band songs, but I’m feeling ballsy.

    Ol’, it is indeed a genitalia reference. It describes the impotent blackened phallus of a mummy who’s eternally seething with malcontentedness and dissatisfaction that his expensive methods of attaining eternal life have left him a shrivelled curio for gawking self-satisfied decadent western unworthies. And there’s nothing he can do about it.

    Carnies are just a bunch of dicks.

  37. Brackinald Achery
    Posted February 16, 2009 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

    OEC, I’m interested to see your sources regarding Coolidge’s knowledge that a Great Depression was building, and which part of Article 2 of the Constitution gives the President the authority to intervene, even if he did.

    I’m interested to see if you may come up with something enlightening for the first part, but I know you can’t for the second.

  38. Brackinald Achery
    Posted February 16, 2009 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

    Why can’t I shake the feeling that I’m being alligator-rolled into a trap, wherein the validity of my economic philosophy is made to look like it rests on how much I really know about Calvin Coolidge?

  39. Ol' E Cross
    Posted February 16, 2009 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

    BA. If you think I anticipated your answering Coolidge as bait for a roll, you flatter me. I honestly and simply am looking for a (hopefully extended) time in American history where your constitutional concepts were espoused so I can evaluate the cost/benefit.

    If they were never espoused, well, that’s interesting, too.

    As far a Coolidge, I was serious about his not running for reelection being frustrating. Google “Coolidge” and “Great Depression” and you find extremes on both sides crucifying and exonerating him. Not much more than the usual blather of accusations and self-affirmations.

    Here’s one of many seemingly unbiased sources: Coolidge also failed to create banking restrictions. Due to bad investments on the part of banks, numerous Americans lost their life savings during the late 1920s and the 1930s, contributing to a weakened economy and the Great Depression.

    Read Huffington Post and Amazon if you want more polarizing evaluations.

    I’m not trying to debate Coolidge, I just want to know when you think America was they way you think it was supposed to be on how it panned out.

  40. Brackinald Achery
    Posted February 17, 2009 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    Oh I get it… no I didn’t mean just trapping me with Coolidge, I figured you’d find fault with any administration I chose.

    You want to know if there was ever a monolithic libertarian golden age utopia in my mind. Well, similar to a Christian golden age utopia, except on small scales (1st century Jerusalem church for a short period, for example), I can’t think of one. Does that invalidate the philosophy? On small scales the philosophy of liberty happens all the time, in people’s normal uncoerced interactions. Nationally, there’s just been good non-interventionist policies and bad interventionist policies, and they often happen in different arenas og policy at the same time. For instance, Coolidge’s hands-off approach was good, but Congress continuing to abdicate it’s Constitutional responsibility to coin money to the Federal Reserve during his presidency led to easy credit and bad investment. Similar to having slavery during the revolutionary years. Some policies are good and promote liberty and should be kept, some are bad and tyrannical and should be tossed. The point is to promote the good and get rid of the bad, not throw the baby out with the bathwater. So, my answer would be that America was/is the way it’s supposed to be in different realms of policy at different times and places throughout it’s history.

  41. Posted February 17, 2009 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

    If I could interrupt the Coolidge fight for a moment, I just wanted to mention that President Obama signed the stimulus bill today. Here’s a note from the man himself.

    Mark —

    Today, I signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law.

    This is a historic step — the first of many as we work together to climb out of this crisis — and I want to thank you for your resolve and your support.

    You organized thousands of house meetings. You shared your ideas and personal stories. And you informed your friends and neighbors about the need for immediate action. You continue to be a powerful voice for change throughout the country.

    The recovery plan will create or save 3.5 million jobs, provide tax cuts for working and middle-class families, and invest in health care and clean energy.

    It’s a bold plan to address a huge problem, and it will require my vigilance and yours to make sure it’s done right.

    I’ve assigned a team of managers to oversee the implementation of the recovery act. We are committed to making sure no dollar is wasted. But accountability begins with you.

    That’s why my administration has created, a new website where citizens can track every dollar spent and every job created. We’ll invite you and your neighbors to weigh in with comments and questions.

    Our progress will also be measured by the tens of thousands of personal stories submitted by people who are struggling to make ends meet. If you haven’t already, you can read stories from families all across the country:

    Your stories are the heart of this recovery plan, and that’s what I’ll focus on every day as President.

    With your continued support, we’ll emerge a stronger and more prosperous nation.

    Thank you,

    President Barack Obama

  42. Edward
    Posted August 26, 2010 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    I know that Time is just a childrens magazine, like Hilights, but I liked this article on all that the Recovery Act has accomplished.

    Yes, the stimulus has cut taxes for 95% of working Americans, bailed out every state, hustled record amounts of unemployment benefits and other aid to struggling families and funded more than 100,000 projects to upgrade roads, subways, schools, airports, military bases and much more. But in the words of Vice President Joe Biden, Obama’s effusive Recovery Act point man, “Now the fun stuff starts!” The “fun stuff,” about one-sixth of the total cost, is an all-out effort to exploit the crisis to make green energy, green building and green transportation real; launch green manufacturing industries; computerize a pen-and-paper health system; promote data-driven school reforms; and ramp up the research of the future. “This is a chance to do something big, man!” Biden said during a 90-minute interview with TIME.

    For starters, the Recovery Act is the most ambitious energy legislation in history, converting the Energy Department into the world’s largest venture-capital fund. It’s pouring $90 billion into clean energy, including unprecedented investments in a smart grid; energy efficiency; electric cars; renewable power from the sun, wind and earth; cleaner coal; advanced biofuels; and factories to manufacture green stuff in the U.S. The act will also triple the number of smart electric meters in our homes, quadruple the number of hybrids in the federal auto fleet and finance far-out energy research through a new government incubator modeled after the Pentagon agency that fathered the Internet.


    See also:,17950/

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