My Photo

« Hello? Your Pinstriped Man Of Morning Has Arrived. | Main | Gregg at Commerce? »

January 31, 2009

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d834515c2369e2010536fcfd86970b

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference A Stimulus for Tomorrow, Part 4 - Improvements:

Comments

You have a problem with the grab-bag nature of the current bill, but advocate $75 billion in increased defense spending with no indication of what you think it should be spent on. If I were trying to write a parody of what a Republican response to the stimulus package would sound like, I couldn't do any better.

It seems to me that bold new programs are unlikely to have any significant effect on the economy within the next several years, not just not much effect tomorrow, so they don't really belong in section B. Bold new programs should be put into the actual budget (since they will need to be in the budget long-term, they should go in the budget now). Section A does what we can do immediately, section B does what we can do over the next 2-3 years. What we can do over the next 2-3 years in terms of hiring millions of people is work on shovel-ready infrastructure projects. Most of those are not going to be very bold or inventive. $150 billion in high speed rail spending would probably get through the process of working out the proposals for where to put the lines in the next 2-3 years, although a bunch of pieces of that would be held up by legal concerns. It would provide a few hundred million dollars in stimulus to planning firms and surveyors, but most of the money would still be sitting idle.

That isn't to say we shouldn't authorize $150 billion for high speed rail this year, it just means it won't be part of the stimulus for this recession (we hope).

The infrastructure and other government spending in "Division A" is much less important in the short term and, by and large, won't enter the economy quickly. It's not the promised jolt.

You keep repeating this point but it's not getting any stronger. Your claim is that the multiplier effect of Division A is less than that of Division B, which may or may not be true. Do you have any evidence? (Whether government cash will "enter the economy quickly" isn't especially relevant. If it is known to be on the way that should influence consumption and investment decisions - rational expectations and all that.)

"Drop the $30 billion for new roads and bridges in the current package."

And let the roads and bridges in this country go to sh!t?

Is that part of the GOP plan?

---

"Bold new programs should be put into the actual budget (since they will need to be in the budget long-term, they should go in the budget now)."

Amen.

I believe that the hodgepodge nature of the bill is intentional. There are limits to how big a program you can get started quickly, or how much you can reasonably add to a transfer program like food stamps, or how big you can make a targeted tax cut until it becomes too distorting or less effective as a stimulus. So the proposal is to split the big stimulus into a bunch of little pieces so that the money can make its way into the economy more quickly and effectively.

Division A contains the spending projects that can get started relatively quickly (with around half the spending happening in the next 2 years). Bigger, more long-term projects (like serious green energy or Mica's transportation proposal) can come later in other bills.

Of course there's a reason to pass them as one bill instead of sequentially: To get a lot of crap passed before anybody can think about it, and maybe decide not to pass it.

Or were you perhaps wondering if there was a good reason to do it as one bill?

I still reject the idea that infrastructure stuff (which is in there) isn't stimulus. you're stillr elying on the idea that the recession will magically end in a year.

if it doesn't, these projects are excellent stimulus -- note that it's 100% certain that 100% will actually be spent. plus, we need it

and is your objection that it's far too small? if so, why not pass this now and then advocate for another infrastructure bill later on

Publius, 30th Jan: A common critique I get in the comments (h/t Brett) is that I ascribe bad faith to Republicans too often.

Brett, 31st Jan: Of course there's a reason to pass them as one bill instead of sequentially: To get a lot of crap passed before anybody can think about it....

Regarding 75 billion for the military - we're winding down one war and accelerating another. That money will go fast. The 25 billion to state and homeland security, however, is probably way too much.

You keep repeating this point but it's not getting any stronger. Your claim is that the multiplier effect of Division A is less than that of Division B, which may or may not be true.

Why do you think I'm claiming that? My argument has nothing to do with the "multiplier effect". It has to do with when the money gets spent. Even if you assume that every part of Division A spending has a multiplier effect that exceeds Division B -- a foolish assumption -- it remains true that Division B largely gets spent before the serious Division A spending. It's pure timing.

By the way, what multiplier have you seen for the plan-as-passed by the House. I've looked, and all I've found are critical reports projecting a multiplier of less than 1. I assume that the Democrats have a higher multiplier in mind, but I just can't find it.

It seems to me that bold new programs are unlikely to have any significant effect on the economy within the next several years, not just not much effect tomorrow, so they don't really belong in section [A].

I think you meant to write Division A, not B. Assuming I'm right, none of the programs in the current version of Division A are going to have an immediate effect; the short term spending and cash is in Division B.

There are limits to how big a program you can get started quickly, or how much you can reasonably add to a transfer program like food stamps, or how big you can make a targeted tax cut until it becomes too distorting or less effective as a stimulus.

TANF, unemployment insurance, etc. are in Division B, not A. We're talking about so-called infrastructure projects.

The point isn't whether something is an economic stimulus or not, the point is not whether it provides a "jolt" to the economy.

It's about jobs. The markets have failed and the government needs to be employer of last resort. The government needs to step in and say, "If you want to work, there will be a job for you". In exactly so many words.

Tax cuts don't do that, unemployment doesn't do that, giving states money doesn't do that.

People with jobs are afraid to spend money because they see other people losing their jobs. So they don't spend, which causes more people to lose their jobs, which causes more people to be afraid to spend money. The only way to stop things from spiraling down is to convince employed people that if they lose their job, they can find another one, even if it is a horrid make work government job.

The specifics of what hole the government is flushing money down do not matter. Arguing about spending money on this versus that is a tempest in a teapot. The message does matter. If you want to work, you will have a job. Do whatever convinces people of that. The minute people believe that, the recession is over.

I still reject the idea that infrastructure stuff (which is in there) isn't stimulus. you're stillr elying on the idea that the recession will magically end in a year.

No I'm not; I'm assuming that the stimulus will at least go through the end of 2010 -- almost two years away. I also favor passing a largish bill and watching its effects. If the recession continues past Q4 2010, we may want the flexibility to try new things.

Vons' advise no make sense. If A spending take long time to work start why you say wait longer. You have head head up ass.

"(This isn't a von-only view; some Democrats agree with me.)"

If you're going to write multi-part posts on a topic, you might better support your point -- and actually have something new to say -- by coming up with new supporting links, rather than just repeating the same links and sentences over and over again.

"It has some good parts, but it's not particularly coherent."

Can you explain, please, why "coherence" is a virtue here? I really have no idea, myself, but maybe that's just me. It's my understanding that spreading out the stimulus into different forms is a feature, not a bug.

You also seem to be writing as if the stimulus bill is going to be the main transportation bill, the main infrastructure bill, and the main investment-in-America bill.

It isn't.

"If Obama's so-call 'smart power' truly involves both diplomacy and military might, make a $100 billion investment in modernizing and improving both: give $25 billion to Homeland Security and the State Dep. and $75 billion Defense Dept."

How about something more like $100 billion to the State Department, and take it out of DoD spending, since DoD is doing all this stuff State should be doing, and that's what DoD thinks.

And where money goes in the hodgepodge that is "Homeland Security" could use a touch of specificity: money for increased port security? Probably a good idea. Money for A Fence Between Us And Mexico? Not a terribly useful way to throw money at a problem. Etc.

"and the world is growing ever more dangerous."

Really? That's a nice cliche, but really? It's more dangerous now than it was in December, 1941? Really? More dangerous now that it was in late 1948, during the Berlin Blockade? Really? More dangerous now than it was in October, 1962? Really?

Could you give some specifics here, as to how it's now more dangerous than it was then?

(Mind, it's not enough to point to contemporary dangers: you have to demonstrate your claim, which is that it's more dangerous now than then.)

My argument has nothing to do with the "multiplier effect". It has to do with when the money gets spent.

Exactly. You're talking about cash flows whereas the proponents of the plan are talking about economic stimulus.

By the way, what multiplier have you seen for the plan-as-passed by the House. I've looked, and all I've found are critical reports....

I’ve nothing special to offer. I presume you’ve seen this PDF (on multipliers, see the appendix). Brad DeLong has the latest from Romer.

and is your objection that it's far too small? if so, why not pass this now and then advocate for another infrastructure bill later on

Publius, you are working from the incorrect assumption that Von's complaints make sense.

He says that the bill isn't coherent, but doesn't define what "coherent" means. Does he insist that everything in the bill be the same kind of spending? I guess, but he doesn't provide any argument as to why it should be so. He never provides a rationale for why the Division B stuff needs to be separated from the Division A stuff. It seems as if the only problem is that it offends his sense of aesthetics if you combine them.

Does he think that the specific projects in Division A aren't good ones? I don't know, because he doesn't argue them on the merits.

Does he think that it doesn't provide stimulus enough to be considered stimulus? I gather that's what he means, but he also argues that there are a lot of things that aren't in the bill that he does want to see, so the mere fact that they don't provide a quick stimulus clearly isn't his basis for opposing them.

He never provides an argument that the infrastructure projects don't create stimulus. In fact, he doesn't even provide much of an argument that they don't provide any stimulus quickly. All he does is look at when the government is going to pay out the money, but never addresses secondary effects, such as hiring that goes on in preparation for the spending.

Gary's argument that Von ignores the potential for an extended recession is correct, but the problems are more fundamental than that. As far as I can tell, Von somehow objects to the stimulus bill, but either can't come up with a coherent reason why, or doesn't want to admit to the real reasons he opposes it.

My initial sentiment is to completely agree with this part of Von's proposal, but maybe for different reasons. I'm not ashamed to admit that the stimulus package provides an opportunity for the federal government to spend a lot of money with much less opposition than would otherwise be present, and I'd love to see that opportunity used to initiate long term projects that we all know we need but that won't otherwise get done. Maybe, per Charles S, bold new programs would ideally go in the actual budget, but I don't see them actually ending up there, at least not without something like this to establish a sunk cost and get the ball rolling.

Of course, my argument doesn't have much to do with what would be the most effective stimulus. But (maybe because I'm misinformed as to how bad the problem really is), I'd be happy to sacrifice a little bit of efficacy in terms of stimulus if doing so got me projects that were more likely to have other benefits, rather than just being a way to stimulate the economy by paying people to dig holes.

(first time posting--apologies if I'm flagrantly violating local custom).

"(first time posting--apologies if I'm flagrantly violating local custom)."

Did you rub your stomach before posting, and pat your head afterwards?

If not, remember to do that next time.

I am going to try to see if I have von's arguement correct, first of all.

He claims that Division B funds will provide a "jolt" to the economy.

He claims that Division B funds will hit the economy way ahead of Division A funds.

He claims since Division A funds won't matter anyway, they might as well be reconfigured.

Unfortunately, he provides no evidence to support any of his claims and in fact, has been unable to refute any of the counter arguements.

To wit, most of Division B, relating to taxes, will not go directly into the economy, but rather to apying down debt. (Note: I do not have to justify this claim as apparently the rules of this post does not require that.)

The two things that have a chance of hitting the economy, food stamps and extended unemployment benefits, while extremely worthwhile, do little or nothing to increase the economy, merely to maintain it to some degree in very limited areas.

A side note to the above. Rep Mark Kirk, currently considered as one of the front-runners for the Republican IL Senate nomination in 2010, recently explained why he was against the extension of unemployment benefits. By extending benefits you inspire people to stay unemployed because the benefits are higher than what a job would bring. Obviously, he has never been, unlike many of us, myself included, on unemployment benefits.

von's arguement against Division A is that it is slow and much of it will not hit until 2010. While in terms of the fiscal year, perhaps, but not in terms of the actual calendar year. But that is besides the point. Infrastructure spending, by its very nature, is spent over a period of time. That does not, however, keep it from providing jobs, a better income, a larger actual return to the actual economy, spreading into other sectors, etc.

He has a point about major investment into innovative long-term projects. I am all for it. But it is not effective now, unlike most of the spending in Division A. As to tax cuts, credits, rebates, whatever, I and my wife would happily give up our $1,000 to help someone get a real job and be productive in the economy.

The point of all this is that von really doesn't consider unemployment a problem, as long as he and others get mone. (von, if that is unfair, I am sorry, but that is how your argument is coming across to me.)

john miller: most of Division B, relating to taxes, will not go directly into the economy, but rather to apying down debt. (Note: I do not have to justify this claim as apparently the rules of this post does not require that.)

But even if you did have to justify this claim with evidence, John, you could point to the payments sent out last year, which were widely predicted to go straight into paying down debt rather than new purchases, and did in fact seem to end up doing just that. The burden is on Von to explain how and why tax cuts or other direct money transfers won't do that.

Can we focus this discussion on a few specific points on which von seems to disagree with a large proportion of the commenters here? As ever, we're not going to make much progress while we're working from conflicting and unexamined assumptions. For example, as john miller and Nell pointed out, it's not clear to many of us what von thinks the stimulus effect of tax cuts will be.

So, von: of the several billion dollars of tax cuts that are being proposed, do you think a large part of that money will be spent, saved, used to pay off debt, or what? What kind of stimulus effect will these different outcomes have? Assuming a fixed quantity of money to be given as tax cuts, are there ways the cuts might be structured (e.g. targeted as specific income groups) or enhanced (e.g. other programs brought in simultaneously, such as healthcare or unemployment safety-nets) that might steer more of that money toward stimulative uses?

"Publius, 30th Jan: A common critique I get in the comments (h/t Brett) is that I ascribe bad faith to Republicans too often.

Brett, 31st Jan: Of course there's a reason to pass them as one bill instead of sequentially: To get a lot of crap passed before anybody can think about it...."

Using obscure process to draft huge bills which the members are then compelled to vote upon before they know everything that's in them is an abusive practice by Congressional leadership, intended to get votes for measures which could not stand scrutiny by either the public or the general membership of Congress.

It's a bipartisan abuse. But that doesn't stop it from being an abuse.

My objection to Publius' assumption of bad faith and/or twisted psychological drives, is that when a large group of people act according to their professed principles, you ought to be open to the possibility that at least SOME of them are acting ON those principles.

The Republican caucus had reasons, bad reasons, for violating their supposed principles during the last 8 years, and then rationalizing their failure. It's hard to cross a President of your own party, the Congressional leadership of your party wields some pretty large carrots and sticks.

Now it's not a President of their own party, and for the moment, their own Congressional leadership, purely by coincidence, wants to do something consistent with, not in opposition to, conservative principle. It's quite possible that some weak conservatives are able to stick by those principles now, when they couldn't before.

I assure you that, in the coming years, Democrats will also violate professed Democratic principles, and rationalize it, for much the same reasons the Republicans had for being so unprincipled up to now. Are you going to use that as occasion to deny those principles ever meant anything, or will you simply conclude that people are weak?

"Did you rub your stomach before posting, and pat your head afterwards?"

nate: Gary just gave you a Very Special Welcome. (So please be sure to post again!)

My workplace of the past five years is a very rough-and-tumble joint, much more so than I had endured anywhere in my previous 40 years on the planet. Even the general manager -- this big, beefy guy who advertised what a great Christian he was (and was actually a doofus) -- did as much ribbing as anyone. I remember mentioning to him midway through my first year something to the effect, "Geez, Ron, nobody cuts you any slack around here." He said: "Tony, the minute they stop talking to you here and start ignoring you -- that's when you have to worry." (Boy, was he he right. Can't count the number of people in five years I've seen who got the silent treatment from co-workers and/or management only to quit or be fired.) Anyway, welcome.

---

von: "Drop the $30 billion for new roads and bridges in the current package."

me: "And let the roads and bridges in this country go to sh!t?"

von?


Most Republican governors have broken with their GOP colleagues in Congress and are pushing for passage of President Barack Obama's economic aid plan, which would send billions to states for education, public works and health care.

Their state treasuries drained by the financial crisis, governors would welcome the money from Capitol Hill, where GOP lawmakers are more skeptical of Obama's spending priorities.

The 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, planned to meet in Washington this weekend with Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and other senators to press for her state's share of the package.

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist worked the phones with members of his state's congressional delegation, including House Republicans. Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas, the Republican vice chairman of the National Governors Association, planned to be in Washington on Monday to urge the Senate to approve the plan.
link

I'm hoping Brett can explain how the GOP governors are not violating their principles.

Why should I? They are.

Thanks, Kevin.

Vons' advise no make sense. If A spending take long time to work start why you say wait longer. You have head head up ass.

I have now removed my head from my ass, but the view looks the same: it's pretty crappy.

If we're talking about projects that won't start until 2010, 2011, or later -- most of Division A -- we can probably spend another month looking at them. I'm propo

von: "Drop the $30 billion for new roads and bridges in the current package."

me: "And let the roads and bridges in this country go to sh!t?"

von?

Sorry. The direct payments to the states, in Division B, include payments for road and bridge maintenance. There are also payments for raods and bridges in the general budget. It's $30 billion in additional spending that I think should be put to better use.


Why should I?
Because you have argued that Republican congresspeople ARE following principles, so we all must, god forbid, applaud their sticking to their guns rather than say suggest for a moment that their analysis of the situation is the result of nothing but political calculation. Are you going to use this as an occasion to deny those principles ever meant anything, or will you simply conclude that people are weak?

No, I've argued that, since they are acting consistent with their professed principles, it's reasonable to suppose that at least SOME of them might doing it because of those principles... and because the motives for violating those principles have been largely removed.

And suggested that we wait to see whether they keep it up, before making up our minds about the matter.

What I objected to, IOW, was the way Publius simply excluded a priori any explanation for the behavior that didn't involve all of them being either evil or mad as hatters. I'm fairly confident a lot of them are evil, (Sociopathy is more the rule than the exception among politicians.) and psychological explanations are frequently correct. But you can't rule out from the get-go the possibility that people occasionally follow their principles because they're their principles.

Unless maybe you're willing to reason that way about Democrats, too, and I don't think you're willing to.

Can you explain, please, why "coherence" is a virtue here? I really have no idea, myself, but maybe that's just me. It's my understanding that spreading out the stimulus into different forms is a feature, not a bug.

Sure. You want the money that you spend or don't receive to be spent or not received for the particular purpose of the bill, i.e., to stimulate the economy. You also want the tax portions of the bill to be simple enough so that folks understand them when they prepare their taxes.

For instance, a tax cut is relatively simple to understand and can be done across the board, in a coherent way, to get money to the right sectors of the economy. (E.g., lower and middle income folks spend more of a cut than higher income folks, so more should go to the lower and mid-end of the scale).

A refundable credit that is only available in certain circumstances to certain people and is layered on top of an existing tax structure lacks this simplicity and coherency.

As for spreading: Division B is already spread among multiple programs and, as you note elsewhere, the entire budgetary process is going to direct additional cash. What I would like to see in Division B are a few big projects that are going to have a direct and measurable impact on the US economy, long term -- not a bunch of little programs that are more of the same. We have the opportunity to do that through this bill, but the House Democrats are wasting it.

"What I would like to see in Division B are a few big projects" ... sorry, I'm talking about Division A, there, obviuously. I'd like Division A to contain a few big infrastructure projects.

Nate, you are violating local custom by agreeing with me. And, although this will make you even more unpopular, there's much distance between your point and mine.

I appreciate that Congress will never pass, and President Obama will never sign, a plan that is 100% acceptable to me. But that doesn't mean that the current plan can't be improved -- enormously -- by having Democrats in the Senate work on it and by listening to some of their Congressional colleagues on the R-side of the aisle.

Brett: Using obscure process to draft huge bills which the members are then compelled to vote upon before they know everything that's in them is an abusive practice by Congressional leadership, intended to get votes for measures which could not stand scrutiny by either the public or the general membership of Congress.

I have some sympathy with this complaint, but I also have some sympathy with administration officials who want to get the job done. The fact is that neither Congress nor the public shows much sign of wanting to scrutinise policy in a serious way. If Congress is given more time to pore over the details, are you really sure that the result will be better legislation rather than unproductive horse-trading? Even if you are sure, your contention that the leadership actually intends to pass bad legislation is just the kind of baseless accusation of bad faith that you complained of in an earlier thread. Maybe you know that a different process would yield better results, but the Congressional leadership shouldn't be assumed to share your knowledge - it's far from obvious.

Also, I'm not an American and I don't pretend to know all that much about how Congress works, but I'm sceptical of your claim that legislators are compelled to vote before they are adequately informed. Even in the House of Commons the Chief Whip doesn't actually flog dissenting MPs. (Except maybe in private with their consent if they are into that kind of thing.)

Krugman explains in simple terms why spending is better stimulus than tax cuts.

Gary, the fact is that von still refuses to say how tax cuts stimulte the economy or create jobs. In real terms. Not some theory which has been shown not to work.

But that doesn't mean that the current plan can't be improved -- enormously -- by having Democrats in the Senate work on it and by listening to some of their Congressional colleagues on the R-side of the aisle.

Frankly, given their activities over the past eight years -- or, really, the past twelve, if we want to count their shenanigans during the second Clinton term, and I do -- I think the people on the R-side of the aisle need to EARN the right to have their ideas listened to, by showing that they want to do more than just "tax cuts, tax cuts, tax cuts"; and that they actually intend to maybe vote for the bills after throwing hissy fits and getting things the Democrats want taken out.

von:

Just wondering: In the Senate next week, do you thing wise heads will prevail, genuine bipartisanship will emerge, and we will ultimately see a stimulus plan that will leave both Main Street and Wall Street much happier?

Or will it just be the SOS?

And: What players are worth watching? Frankly, I have very little confidence in Boehner and McConnell, who strike me as lawmakers who dig their heals in for better or worse and don't give a damn what we crazy Democrats think?

So, I'm going to try and acribe good faith to Rep. Mark Kirk's apparent belief has a noticeable effect in encouraging people to stay unemployed (rather than a theoretical effect that is normally not noticeable given the suckiness of unemployment). I think the argument would go something like this:

1. There are people whose work-leisure tradeoff is complicated by the need to care for dependents (e.g. small children, elderly relatives, etc.) or other non-work resposibilities. Those people might find extended unemployment benefits to be a better solution to their work-leisure tradeoff than getting a job and paying someone else to help with their non-work responsibilities. However, to the extent that these people stay out of the labor market (and suppress their demand for external services) that contracts the economy. So, for those people, one could argue that an extension of unemployment benefits is not stimulative.

2. There are also people who, given unemployment benefits, will take longer with their job search in an attempt to find a job that is a better fit for them.

The problem is that I can't convince myself that these considerations are good-faith reasons to oppose extended unemployment benefits.

After all, even if it costs the taxspayers some extra money, is it such a bad thing that we help people with dependents take care of them? Doesn't the time spent taking care of small children pay for itself when those children grow up into more productive members of society because their parents and guardians could focus a little more on raising them? And doesn't care for elderly relatives decrease the pressure on Medicare for things like nursing home expenses? Not to mention the non-financial reasons we might want to help people juggle their dependents...

And as for people using unemployment to spend more time looking for a job that is a better fit. To the extent that people find jobs that work better for them doesn't that increase the long-run productivity of the economy (and quite possibly decreases the non-inflationary rate of unemployment over the long term if jobs become a little stickier)? Again, is that a bad thing?

Have I missed any other plausible, real-world mechanisms by which unemployment benefits encourage extended unemployment (especially when you consider the job-search requirements and the income decrease and so on)?

Beyond that, given his deceptive "two-week worker comments" (linked) and the flip-flopping of his vote on the issue with the political winds, the proposition that Rep. Kirk's opposition to extended unemployment benefits is in good faith seems impossible to defend.

Sorry, that should be "Nate, you are violating local custom by agreeing with me. And, although this will make you even more unpopular, there's not much distance between your point and mine."

Just wondering: In the Senate next week, do you thing wise heads will prevail, genuine bipartisanship will emerge, and we will ultimately see a stimulus plan that will leave both Main Street and Wall Street much happier?

Yes. I think that there is a very good chance that a revised bill passes the Senate with at least some Republican support because (a) Obama wants and needs Republican support if this bill doesn't work and (b) there are some problems with the bill (particularly in Section A, in my view) that Democrats will want to fix. . There are better ways to spend at least some of the money in Section A.

The House vote gives the Democrats a chance to do that. I'm pleased that the Republicans stood firm and didn't vote for this bill. Publius thinks that this is evidence of bad faith or insanity on the R side, but it's sound tactics and it's going to create a better bill. A stictly partisan vote in the House is the only way to give Republicans in the Senate some leverage, which, in turn, will empower the Democrats in the House and Senate who have concerns over the bill. If that occurs, you're going to see a new bill -- maybe split as I propose, maybe not -- that will garner significant Republican support.

"Publius thinks that this is evidence of bad faith or insanity on the R side, but it's sound tactics"

I'll agree with you on that much. Strictly on a short-term political basis, the Republicans had little to gain by signing on, and little to lose by not, and a bit to win (popularity with their base) in the short run.

Did I mention "in the short run"?

In the longer run, it'll depend on whether we're still in deep doo-do by late 2010, and how the fault for that is regarded.

"Yes. I think that there is a very good chance that a revised bill passes the Senate with at least some Republican support because (a) Obama wants and needs Republican support if this bill doesn't work"

WTF, Obama should give into Republicans and have a bill that he feels is not as good because that way Republicans can share the blame if it doesn't work?

That is ridiculous. Maybe Republicans think that politics and the next election matter more than the good of the country, and I have no doubt some Dems do too, but that doesn't change the fact it is an almost traitorous way to think.

Yes, there need to be changes in the final bill. Cut the useless tax cuts, which you still haven't justified von, and add some spending.

Simple, isn't it?

that doesn't change the fact it is an almost traitorous way to think

Careful, you're starting to sound like a 2003-ish Republican.

A stictly partisan vote in the House is the only way to give Republicans in the Senate some leverage

And, again, given how utterly wrong the Senate Republicans have been about essentially everything since about 1996 -- Exhibit A: THE SHAPE THE COUNTRY IS IN NOW -- why should anyone but be concerned about giving them some leverage? Let them show first that they have any idea whatsoever what they're talking about first before worrying that they have any leverage.

Cut the useless tax cuts, which you still haven't justified von, and add some spending.

Tax cuts have a lower multiplier than public works spending, but they are the only type of spending that goes into effect quickly. If you want stimulus during the worst of the recession, you have to accept tax cuts: the amount that can be usefully spent of unemployment aid and food stamps (high multiplier), and the number of shovel-ready public works projects (fairly high multiplier) are very limited. As Clive Crook pointed out recently, the bill needs to be bigger (Republicans will protest) and more front-loaded (Democrats won't like the implications of this).

Although I should have updated to a new blog template at least 3-4 years ago, I still carry the sentiment "Sanely free of McCarthyite calling anyone a 'traitor' since 2001!" on my sidebar.

I wish I could figure out why I'm getting a string of hits this morning from the plain vanila URL "nytimes.com." No page; just that.

Notice I didn't call anyone a traitor and I included Dems in with the Republicans.

MikeF, if the tax cuts result in increased spending, fine, although they really don't hit any more rapidly than the others. However, considering the level of current debt, it is quite questionable how much of the tax cuts, credits, etc. will result in actual spending. And it is even less certain how much of that spending would result in new jobs, which is really what this is all about.

WTF, Obama should give into Republicans and have a bill that he feels is not as good because that way Republicans can share the blame if it doesn't work?

That is ridiculous. Maybe Republicans think that politics and the next election matter more than the good of the country, and I have no doubt some Dems do too, but that doesn't change the fact it is an almost traitorous way to think.

Huh? If Republicans genuinely believe that the present bill is a bad one, and that they can get a better bill by remaining unified -- even at the expense of being demonized as obstructionists and, erm, traitors -- isn't that the opposite of being a traitor?

As for defending the tax cuts in the bill: They're President Obama's tax cuts. President Obama and his economic team can defend them to you - or not - as they so choose.

As for why Obama may want Republicans to sign on to his plan: This recession is going to continue through 2009 and, possibly, into 2010 and later. There are mid-terms in 2010. Democrats are going to face the blame for the recession at that point.

Obama may very well feel that he can accomplish more good in the long term if maintains a healthy majority in Congress, which means he needs to get some R support now.

I was actually coming around until you said this:

"give $25 billion to Homeland Security and the State Dep. and $75 billion Defense Dept."

We can't-- just can not- spend our way out of our defense problems. It's not possible, no matter how much money you shovel at it. We already have ~50% of the global defense budget, and our largest issue is with manpower, which spending only tangentially addresses. The only way we're going to not have an overstretched military is if we stop stretching them.

von, let me explain myself a little more, because you totally misread me, which is undoubtedly due to me incoherent writing, somewhat like, apparently Division A.

You were suggesting that Obama sign onto a plan with Repblican components that he doesn't agree with, that he thinks will not only not help but possibly hurt the nation, all of which, in his opinion, may result in the failure of the plan,. just so the blame is shared.

I know the Republican Party over the last 8 years has represented lack of accountability at a level probably never seen before, but that doesn't mean Obama falls into that category. If he does, I will be extremely disappointed in him.

I want him to go with a plan that he feels will succeed, not water it down in case it fails, possibly ensuring failure.

Regards the second part, yes mid-terms will be in 2010, but if there is any headway by then, even if the recession is still with us, it will only hurt the Republicans more. The people are not handing this recession to Obama unless it gets a lot worse. They know Republican policies were the cause and they aren't going to trust them to turn it around.

Finally, to echo a couple other comments, when Gates asks for Defense money to be given to State and states that the military has to step back and let State get into play more, why should we give 3 times as much to Defense as to State?

Back in 2007:

[...] The secretary cited important lessons learned from the U.S. experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the decisive role reconstruction, development and governance have played in the successes taking place there.

The Defense Department has taken on many of these efforts, but Gates urged better resourcing for civilian agencies so they can take the lead.

“Forced by circumstances, our brave men and women in uniform have stepped up to the task, with field artillerymen and tankers building schools and mentoring city councils – usually in a language they don’t speak,” he said. “They have done an admirable job.”

The armed forces will need to institutionalize and retain these non-traditional capabilities, he said. “But there is no replacement for the real thing: civilian involvement and expertise.”

Gates pointed to the example of provincial reconstruction teams and the successes they have demonstrated in Afghanistan, and more recently, in Iraq. These teams are designed to bring in civilians with experience in agricultural, governance and other aspects of development to work alongside the military to improve the local population’s lives.

[...]

“We also have increased our effectiveness by joining with organizations and people outside the government – untapped resources with tremendous potential,” he said. He noted a broad range of civilian experts who have supported rebuilding efforts: anthropologists, agricultural experts and veterinarians among them.

“I have been heartened by the works of individuals and groups like these,” Gates said. “But I am concerned that we need even more civilians involved in the effort, and that our efforts must be better integrated. And I remain concerned that we have yet to create any permanent capability or institutions to rapidly create and deploy these kinds of skills in the future.”

Gates repeated President Bush’s call during his 2007 State of the Union Address for the country to develop a permanent, sizeable cadre of experts with disparate skills that can be deployed immediately when it’s needed.

The State Department is working on its initiative to build a civilian response corps, but Gates said the need goes even deeper. “We also need new thinking about how to integrate our government’s capabilities in these areas, and then how to integrate government capabilities with those in the private sector, in universities, in other non-governmental organizations, with the capabilities of our allies and friends,” he said.

Also to be considered, he said, are the emerging capabilities of those the United States is working to help.

For these efforts to succeed, Gates said, there’s a desperate need for better funding for the programs that support them.

“Funding for non-military foreign-affairs programs has increased since 2001, but remains disproportionately small relative to what we spend on the military and to the importance of such capabilities,” he said. He noted that the State Department’s entire foreign affairs budget request for fiscal 2008 is $36 billion, less than what the Pentagon spends on health care.

With military spending at 4 percent of gross domestic product – below historic norms and well below previous wartime periods – there’s no similar benchmark for other departments and institutions, he said.

“What is clear to me is that there is a need for a dramatic increase in spending on the civilian instruments of national security: diplomacy, strategic communications, foreign assistance, civic action and economic reconstruction and development,’ he said. “We must focus our energies beyond the guns and steels of the military, beyond our brave soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen We must also focus our energies on all the other elements of national power that will be so critical in the years to come.”

Gates acknowledged it’s unusual for a defense secretary to travel halfway across the country to make a pitch to increase the budgets of other agencies. But he emphasized that military leaders recognize the important role civilian experts play in U.S. national defense, and that success in those arenas could reduce the demands placed on the military.

“After all, civilian participation is both necessary to making military operations successful and to relieving stress on the men and women of our armed services who have endured so much these last few years, and done so with such unflagging bravery and devotion,” he said.

“Indeed, having robust civilian capabilities available could make it less likely that military force will have to be used in the first place, as local problems might be dealt with before they become crises.”

Why does Robert Gates hate the military?

John - Thanks for clarifying your comments. I understand your point.

to echo a couple other comments, when Gates asks for Defense money to be given to State and states that the military has to step back and let State get into play more, why should we give 3 times as much to Defense as to State?

Because the State Department doesn't have the capability to spend a great deal on infrastructure or capital projects .... owing to the fact that it doesn't have much of each. The military, however, does.

Keep in mind as well that my proposed spending on the State department is something like 5 times or more that proposed by Obama in the current package.

He never provides a rationale for why the Division B stuff needs to be separated from the Division A stuff.

Well, based on longstanding legislative tactics, one rationale would be to pass the piss-poor stimulus tax cuts now, and leave the actual stimulus spending that promotes the general welfare for later. Whereupon "later" simply never comes. Although I suppose it's possible that Sebastian and von are being politically naive rather then disingenuous.

"Because the State Department doesn't have the capability to spend a great deal on infrastructure or capital projects .... owing to the fact that it doesn't have much of each."

This is why the State Department needs to be greatly enlarged, along with AID, and a separate U.S. Information Agency opened again, and the mission of the State Department greatly expanded. All this will require a lot of money.

U.S. foreign policy is not supposed to be, and should not be, run by the military.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Whatnot


  • visitors since 3/2/2004

October 2014

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
      1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31  
Blog powered by Typepad

QuantCast