Steven Pearlstein Is On Fire

Once again, if I quoted every good line and excellent point in Steven Pearlstein’s column dissecting the nutty Republican objections to the stimulus plan, we would be reprinting the whole column word-for-word. So let’s just go to the highlights.

To Sen. Johanns of Nebraska who branded it not a stimulus but spending plan that would not create jobs, Pearlstein says:

Johanns was too busy yesterday to explain this radical departure from standard theory and practice. Where does the senator think the $800 billion will go? Down a rabbit hole? Even if the entire sum were to be stolen by federal employees and spent entirely on fast cars, fancy homes, gambling junkets and fancy clothes, it would still be an $800 billion increase in the demand for goods and services — a pretty good working definition for economic stimulus. The only question is whether spending it on other things would create more long-term value, which it almost certainly would.

To Daniel Henninger, who objects to money being spent on government agencies, Pearlstein says:

Actually, what’s striking is that supposedly intelligent people are horrified at the thought that, during a deep recession, government might try to help the economy by buying up-to-date equipment for the people who protect us from epidemics and infectious diseases, by hiring people to repair environmental damage on federal lands and by contracting with private companies to make federal buildings more energy-efficient.

What really irks so many Republicans, of course, is that all the stimulus money isn’t being used to cut individual and business taxes, their cure-all for economic ailments, even though all the credible evidence is that tax cuts are only about half as stimulative as direct government spending.


Wanted: Personal Economic Trainers. Apply at Capitol.
Washington Post; February 6, 2009

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