Free Speech – 02/09/11

Stimulus Interruptus

David H. Landon trashed the President’s State of the Union address claiming Obama did not address the one issue driving public debate: government spending. According to Landon, the mid-term elections proved public discontent with how Democrats managed to avert another Great Depression. They spent lots of money on stimulus packages to revive our economy and the voters are upset about all the spending. He is right, the voters are upset – but not over spending. Voters have little concern for macro economic concepts like spending, deficits, the national debt, etc. What they care about is jobs. The stimulus package produced a jobless recovery. It is hard to applaud economic relief when you don’t have a job.

Who is to blame? Who fought the Democrats’ efforts to revive the economy? You might remember Rush Limbaugh’s broadcast “I want the Obama Administration to fail.” Republicans united to make that happen. They opposed every piece of legislation the Democratic majority proposed and they did it with 100 percent partisan solidarity. They filibustered and trimmed down the stimulus bill until it barely had a chance to succeed. These same Republicans approved the Bush bank bailouts, but when Democrats took power, they reversed direction and started calling “spending” a sin.

The Republicans did everything they could to sabotage the recovery and it worked. The watered-down stimulus package was good enough to meet Republican aims. Business grew and Wall Street rebounded. The stimulus package was too meek to meet Democratic aims: job growth. That was on purpose.

Democrats should not have compromised. A jobless recovery delights Republicans while it hurts average Americans. It was the same during the Great Depression.  President Hoover responded to the 1929 collapse with a misguided policy of fiscal restraints and an attempt to balance the budget. That backfired in a huge way. FDR used huge government spending (and a wartime top tax of 90 percent) to restore a prosperous economy.

There is no point debating economics with pundits, loudmouths and ideologues. If you ever studied economics, you already know you have to spend your way out of a recession.  Spending – even deficit spending – revives a depressed economy. It is a necessary evil. Republicans fought every stimulus initiative, not under Bush, but afterwards under Obama. The result was a watered down stimulus that Republicans can now blame as the “failed policies” of the Democrats.

When times are good, you pay back those deficits. That’s what Clinton did. That’s what Kennedy did. Republicans talk a good game, but they never produce a budget surplus.   Why is that?

Trust me. It’s because they really don’t care. It’s all just noise.

Tom Robinson

Dayton, Ohio

[RE: DCP Debate Forum, 2/2/11]

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