In selling the plan, President Obama has said this bill will make "dramatic investments to revive our flagging economy." Well, you be the judge. Some $30 billion, or less than 5% of the spending in the bill, is for fixing bridges or other highway projects. There's another $40 billion for broadband and electric grid development, airports and clean water projects that are arguably worthwhile priorities.

Add the roughly $20 billion for business tax cuts, and by our estimate only $90 billion out of $825 billion, or about 12 cents of every $1, is for something that can plausibly be considered a growth stimulus. And even many of these projects aren't likely to help the economy immediately. As Peter Orszag, the President's new budget director, told Congress a year ago, "even those [public works] that are 'on the shelf' generally cannot be undertaken quickly enough to provide timely stimulus to the economy."


This is supposed to be a new era of bipartisanship, but this bill was written based on the wish list of every living -- or dead -- Democratic interest group. As Speaker Nancy Pelosi put it, "We won the election. We wrote the bill." So they did. Republicans should let them take all of the credit.

I was often dissapointed with the lack of courage and leadership the GOP showed from 2004 onwards. But this...sigh...40 years of wet dreams.

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Comment by Bill Wood on February 10, 2009 at 1:06pm
Pelosi, as we all know, is the Real enemy:

Comment by Randy Herkelrath on February 2, 2009 at 6:28pm
No one should be surprised. The liberal party is in power, expect them to extend entitlements and essentially buy votes by tying more and more people to the government. I don't see much in the current stimulus plan or bank bailouts that provide much hope for a rapid fix. Unfortunately, time is more important in these situations than spending. This recession is going to be hard and deep.

I do wish the Republicans had managed to hang on to the Senate. Washington in grid lock is far better than either party controlling both congress and the white house. Would anything have changed with McCain in office. Probably not much. He's just another Bush-type Republican who forgot what the phrase 'conservative party' means. At least the dems will permit stem cell research even if they ultimately tax us all into oblivion.
Comment by Smitty on February 1, 2009 at 10:30pm
Republicans appear to have the support of some Democrats, including North Dakota Sen. Kent Conrad, head of the Budget Committee, and Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson.
"As it stands it would be very hard for me to vote for this package, because I don't think it is fully targeted, timely and temporary," Conrad said. "I think there is widespread dissatisfaction with the package that came over from the House."
Comment by Jon Compton on February 1, 2009 at 9:34am
Ken is correct. Protectionism benefits a select few at the expense of everyone else. In addition to what he listed, it also creates a climate of special interest lobbies that further corrupt the political process. It's no coincidence that one of the most empirically strong models of protectionism is called the political interest group model.

Here's a good, although somewhat tangential, article that skirts around the subject.


There's a lot to agree with and disagree with in this piece, but it's good food for thought given the discussion. One thing that may ultimately strengthen domestic manufacturing, albeit to small degree, is if transportation costs increase the cost of importation to the point where some domestic skilled labor can compete again.

But there is also the idea that consumers can make informed choices if they so chose. To relate a story, I typically have my dress shirts tailored or custom made. I recently had a pair custom made at the local Nordstrom, and paid a fair amount of coin to have it done. When I finally got them, they had "made in China" tags in them. I was furious. I was incensed by the idea that a store could charge me that much for a shirt, and still have it sewn together in a Chinese sweat shop. As a result, I no longer purchase my shirts there. Sadly, though, there are only two manufacturers of dress shirts in the US that I'm aware of, although there are still several in the UK. My rambling aside, if you want American made goods, by all means seek them out (I do), but don't force everyone else to do so as well.
Comment by Jon Compton on February 1, 2009 at 12:18am
I tend to agree with John's first point though. We need some accountability.
Comment by Ken Prescott on January 31, 2009 at 11:05pm
Step number two is to set up tariffs on all foreign businesses that adversely affect US industries in the same field. For example, tax imported clothing so that it's as expensive as American manufactured. It's a policy that will keep Americans at their jobs. The balance of trade isn't in our favor so we have nothing to lose.

Raising the price of new clothing (which you explicitly state is your intent) will cause Americans to buy less of it (i.e., they'll make that shirt or suit last longer instead of discarding it at the first sign of wear, or purchase from a thrift store), causing clothing stores to have lower sales, causing them to lose money, causing them to lay off employees, who now no longer have as much money to buy new clothing with, which results in fewer orders to anybody for new clothing, which results in American textile companies losing money, which results in American textile workers getting laid off, which in turn causes them to reduce their consumption . . . eventually, an equilibrium point is reached, but that point is always going to be significantly lower than before protectionist measures were applied.

If you wish to significantly worsen your standard of living, feel free to do so. I would prefer that you not attempt to drag me along for the ride (I tend to get snippy about it).

Protectionist policies gave us two things in the 1930s: the first was to turn a much-needed market correction into the herald of a long and painful deflationary depression. The second was to legitimize the notion of economic autarchy. America could attempt to aspire to autarchy (although we did manage to do severe damage to our economy in the process) because we had vast natural and capital resources relative to the rest of the world. Germany and Japan, by comparison, didn't. Their proposed solution was to steal those resources from other countries.

Lebensraum and The Greater East-Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere are Smoot-Hawley's bastard stepchildren. Reviving those concepts (even if they have Russian and Chinese accents in place of German and Japanese ones) is not a good idea, IMNHO.
Comment by John Bobek on January 30, 2009 at 9:27pm
Step number one is to set jail time for CEO's and board of directors who lay off American workers and don't take a proportionate (same percentage loss as the percentage loss of workers in the company) cut in their pre tax income (from all sources).
Step number two is to set up tariffs on all foreign businesses that adversely affect US industries in the same field. For example, tax imported clothing so that it's as expensive as American manufactured. It's a policy that will keep Americans at their jobs. The balance of trade isn't in our favor so we have nothing to lose.
Comment by Jim Werbaneth on January 30, 2009 at 9:13pm
It won't happen.
Comment by Bill Wood on January 30, 2009 at 8:41pm
A bill is in process to limit bailout recipient Executives and Employees no more compensation than the President gets - 400,000 dollars per year.

They will shoot themselves if that happened.
Comment by Lance Runolfsson on January 30, 2009 at 8:33pm
I'm against any economic recovery package that does not start with a list of CEO's that are going to be shot. Preferably with small caliber bullets in the joints and left to bleed out.

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