It’s The Politics, Stupid

Paul Krugman’s piece today is an example of why he still has the ability to drive me insane:

By any normal political standards, this week’s Congressional agreement on an economic stimulus package was a great victory for President Obama. He got more or less what he asked for: almost $800 billion to rescue the economy, with most of the money allocated to spending rather than tax cuts. Break out the Champagne!

Or maybe not. These aren’t normal times, so normal political standards don’t apply: Mr. Obama’s victory feels more than a bit like defeat. The stimulus bill looks helpful but inadequate, especially when combined with a disappointing plan for rescuing the banks. And the politics of the stimulus fight have made nonsense of Mr. Obama’s postpartisan dreams.

Krugman has basically spent the past few weeks arguing for a much, much larger stimulus bill, something on the order of double what we got now, and without as many tax cuts and with far more direct spending. The very first thing I remember him saying about the bill was that it was a disappointment, and this was before he even knew what was in it. And for all I know, he may be right- that may be what the economy needs, the current bill may be inadequate, and so on.

But the point remains that a larger bill was not political feasible. At all. The current bill just barely is getting the support from the three Republicans it needs, and this is after hundreds of hours of bickering, of paring down spending, and so forth. A larger bill was not politically feasible, and right now, it still has not been turned into law, and anything, as we all know, could still happen. With Gregg out at Commerce and back in the Senate, and Kennedy unable to fly back to vote for the bill, there is some doubt (for me, at least) that the current bill will even pass. A bigger bill simply could not happen in this climate.

Again, Krugman may be right on the contents of the bill, it might not be enough. However, to listen to him discuss the political outcome of the bill’s passage, after he showed a several month inability to recognize the political realities of the crafting of the bill, just makes me want to kick puppies.

Or stop reading Krugman.

*** Update #1***

On the other hand, while Krugman seems content to ignore or pay insignificant attention to the current political realities, that is still better than this David Brooks piece, in which he dedicates his entire column to making up political realities in the future.

*** Update #2***

Please, folks, enough with the ‘make them filibuster’ nonsense. I don’t know how many bullets this zombie nonsense needs before it goes down, but the filibuster is not in play here. The bill needs sixty votes:

The bill will be subject to a point of order due to its deficit spending, but the point of order can be waived by a 3/5 vote of the Senate. So that means passage would ultimately have required 60 votes whether Republicans filibustered or not.

Senate rules.

*** Update #3***

Greenwald essentially argues that what needs to be done is to change the political realities.

*** Update #4***

A different take:

Krugman’s point is that the political realities are the problem. It should be noted that GOP governors have no problem with a larger stimulus bill. The national GOP structure wants the stimulus to have less impact, keeping unemployment high, which in turn could scuttle the Obama Administration and lead to a GOP resurgence in the 2010 mid-terms.






147 replies
  1. 1
    Laura W says:

    (not politically feasible, #1.)

  2. 2
    DecidedFenceSitter says:

    I have to disagree. It is his job (not really) to say, "THIS IS WHAT WE NEED!" He isn’t in the administration (at least as far as I am aware), perhaps it would have been better suited for him to put in a sop to the political realities, but if we’re going to shift the overton window we need loud voices crying out "This isn’t enough" to wake people up to the realities.

  3. 3
    McWyrm says:

    WTF? Krugman is an economist and writes primarily on the economy. If you wanted political commentary you should read an editorial by a political commentator.

  4. 4

    What is this "politics" of which you speak?

  5. 5
    Robert Johnston says:

    The current bill just barely is getting the support from the three Republicans it needs

    There’s your problem right there: the bill needed no such thing. Given how dire things are at the moment, Obama needed to use his political capital to get rid of the filibuster, or at least force a real one in this case, so that an adequate bill could be passed. The Democrats had the votes for a much better bill than this one, maybe even for an adequate bill, and we don’t have the time to be dilly-dallying about worrying about adhering to meaningless parliamentary rules that can be legitimately and legally ignored by institutional prerogative. The choices are to bloody the Republican nose or to have a Japanese style lost decade. Obama and the Democrats appear to be choosing the latter.

  6. 6
    Napoleon says:

    Again, Krugman may be right on the contents of the bill, it might not be enough. However, to listen to him discuss the political outcome of the bill’s passage, after he showed a several month inability to recognize the political realities of the crafting of the bill, just makes me want to kick puppies.

    I will defend Krugman. Someone like Obama or Harry Reid or Polosi may need to pay attention political realities, but it seems to me that a good columnist who is doing his or her job at some point or another has to ignore "political reality" in order to push forward into the public discourse a certain point of view that may not be getting a fair hearing, and because it is not getting a fair hearing it is not considered politically viable.

    If everyone paid slavish attention to political reality all the time blacks still wouldn’t have a right to vote and there would not even be a debate about gay marriage.

  7. 7
    MattF says:

    Economists can be interesting and instructive about economics– but can also make-you-wanna-fwow-up about most other things. Krugman, DeLong, Friedman… Maybe it’s an occupational hazard to be aware of subtleties in one area at the cost of ignoring them everywheres else.

  8. 8
    Xenos says:

    Let them filibuster. Please let them try it.

  9. 9
    El Cid says:

    I don’t get the disagreement — where is the logical inconsistency in viewing a (in his view) far too small economic stimulus which may have been as large as ‘politically feasible’ as somewhat of a defeat?

    I.e., what was in the national and population interest in order to avoid some really awful consequences was something much larger, and yet even this dramatic a change in the American political makeup was not sufficient to endorse the necessary change?

    If it really is your sincere view that the action just completed is inadequate to solve a truly dangerous problem, why would you not consider anything less than an actual solution as a defeat?

    (I’m going to leave aside the argument about whether or not the stimulus was as large as "politically feasible"; what is, or is not "feasible", is a political and not an objective question.)

  10. 10
    Jon says:

    The Republicans would have bitched and moaned about any spending bill that was put forward. They would have demanded, and received, concessions, while still rejecting it, by and large. I don’t know why we should think that the end result would have been much different had the bill initially put forward been somewhat larger, or smaller, for that matter. Surely, there is a limit to what could have been done, for I doubt a $2 trillion spending bill could have been passed. But if Krugman and others are right that what is needed is much greater spending than provided for in this bill, then the starting point in these negotiations was overly unambitious, especially given the President’s approval and oratorical ability.

  11. 11
    El Tiburon says:

    Yep, I see thematically where this is headed.

    Krugman doesn’t have to play politics. It’s his bizness to opine and throw this political bullshit out the window.

    Hey, the Democrats won-HANDILY.

    It’s time they start acting like it.

    This is no longer about making the batshit crazy Republicans happy – fuck ’em and feed ’em fisheads.

    Cole, you thunk Krugman should have said: "Hey close enough, it really won’t help all that much, but it’s as good as it can get without fighting too much…"

  12. 12
    SGEW says:

    [I]f we’re going to shift the overton window we need loud voices crying out "This isn’t enough" to wake people up to the realities.

    What DecidedFenceSitter said. Also pace Greenwald: "Political ideas and values that have no meaningful pressure being exerted on their behalf will always be those that are most ignored."

    And fyi:

    He isn’t in the administration (at least as far as I am aware)

    From Krug’s blog, not so long ago:

    I realized a long time ago that I just don’t have the temperament for government work — remember, if you’re in public office you have to be careful about what you say, and remain tactful all the time.

  13. 13

    …if we’re going to shift the overton window we need loud voices crying out "This isn’t enough" to wake people up to the realities.

    True, but I would find Krugman less annoying if his approach was "This is a good start, but…" rather than "Why did Obama bother?"…

    Break out the Champagne! … Mr. Obama’s victory feels more than a bit like defeat.

    Yes, the Black President of the United States got a bill passed which authorises billions of dollars to be spent on US infrastructure and social services, rather than on Iraqi infrastructure and tax cuts for Bill Gates (while incidentally making the Republicans in Congress look like the clueless, heartless, WATBs they are).

    What a horrible defeat. Worst President ever.

  14. 14
    Frank says:

    Krugman is an ideoligical purist, not a politician. Ideological purists don’t get stuff done. They can, however, lay the groundwork for others to get stuff done later.

  15. 15
    El Cid says:

    Krugman is an ideoligical purist, not a politician. Ideological purists don’t get stuff done. They can, however, lay the groundwork for others to get stuff done later.

    Krugman views himself as an economist, and views the question of what sort of economic program is needed to solve a very real crisis as a technical, and not an ideological, question.

    He may be right or wrong in this view, but he isn’t staking his positions out because of some very simplistic ideological goals.

  16. 16
    burnspbesq says:

    Economists don’t know how to model political reality; as a result, they ignore it, in the same way they ignore other exogenous forces that they don’t know how to model.

  17. 17
    Comrade Mary, Would-Be Minion Of Bad Horse says:

    Robert Johnston and Xenos: THE FILIBUSTER IS IRRELEVANT. (link)

    They need 60 votes because of their own ruling that any bill increasing the deficit requires 60 votes. The number of votes required to change their own ruling? 60. Not gonna happen right now.

  18. 18
    Napoleon says:

    By the way, if Obama always paid attention to political reality he never would have run in the first place because everyone just knows he could never win.

  19. 19
    PK says:

    Its not Krugman’s job to recognize political realities and taylor his comments accordingly. That is the job of right wing columnists and pundits.

  20. 20
    headpan says:

    Just because republicans are assholes, doesn’t mean Krugman is wrong.

    Fuck ’em – expose them for what they are – jeebus, I am sick and tired of pandering to these morally bankrupt bastards who will shiv you the minute you turn your back – I don’t give a damn about political realities, do what’s right, let the other side try to tear down a GOOD stimulus package, make this an issue of morality because, that’s what it boils down to. Are you going to let the people suffer or are you going to give them $400 in tax credits which will keep them alive for a month, or less?

    Yes, folks, it’s the republicans who are going to let your children starve because that money just HAS to go towards tax cuts.

  21. 21

    Robert Johnson and others

    I have tried to illuminate this point here and other places but for some reason people aren’t paying attention or aren’t getting it. The filabuster isn’t the problem. Because this bill deals with deficit spending to get rid of a point of order you have to have a supermajority, 60 votes to pass it. That means NO MATTER WHAT you have to have 60 votes. Thats why the three Republicans were able to hijack the bill. PLEASE READ THE INFORMATION AT THIS LINK. John Cole I think it would be VERY helpful if people understood this very important point. I have a feeling that even Paul Krugman doesn’t understand this because when you realize that we had to have 60 votes no matter what it mitigates what your expectation of the bill should be.

    Now as to Krugman, I realize I am in the minority here but I actually think he makes a few very relevant points about the politics of the situation.

    And the rhetorical response of conservatives to the stimulus plan — which will, it’s worth bearing in mind, cost substantially less than either the Bush administration’s $2 trillion in tax cuts or the $1 trillion and counting spent in Iraq — has bordered on the deranged.

    It’s “generational theft,” said Senator John McCain, just a few days after voting for tax cuts that would, over the next decade, have cost about four times as much.

    It’s “destroying my daughters’ future. It is like sitting there watching my house ransacked by a gang of thugs,” said Arnold Kling of the Cato Institute.

    And the ugliness of the political debate matters because it raises doubts about the Obama administration’s ability to come back for more if, as seems likely, the stimulus bill proves inadequate.

    Now that is a point that I agree with. The reason why this bill needed to be bigger is precisely because its apparent that when Obama comes back for more money, and make no mistake about it he will have to, they will face even MORE pushback from the Rethugs. I can hear them now. "We just gave you almost a trillion dollars and it didn’t fix anything so now you want more??!!??!!" But like I said once you realize the situation is what it is then you have to know that there simply was no other way. But Krugman also tied it into the financial rescue.

    Now, the chances that the fiscal stimulus will prove adequate would be higher if it were accompanied by an effective financial rescue, one that would unfreeze the credit markets and get money moving again. But the long-awaited announcement of the Obama administration’s plans on that front, which also came this week, landed with a dull thud.

    The plan sketched out by Tim Geithner, the Treasury secretary, wasn’t bad, exactly. What it was, instead, was vague. It left everyone trying to figure out where the administration was really going. Will those public-private partnerships end up being a covert way to bail out bankers at taxpayers’ expense? Or will the required “stress test” act as a back-door route to temporary bank nationalization (the solution favored by a growing number of economists, myself included)? Nobody knows.

    Over all, the effect was to kick the can down the road. And that’s not good enough. So far the Obama administration’s response to the economic crisis is all too reminiscent of Japan in the 1990s: a fiscal expansion large enough to avert the worst, but not enough to kick-start recovery; support for the banking system, but a reluctance to force banks to face up to their losses. It’s early days yet, but we’re falling behind the curve.

    Now political realities aside it seems that we are sending the same charges at Krugman that the Wingnuts are sending at President Obama. "You are fear mongering". But this guy is an economist and this is reality as he sees it. So is he supposed to just STFU and not warn us about an impending disaster? Hell he screamed from the hills for years about the housing bubble and we didn’t pay him any mind. So if anything he might need to be screaming even LOUDER to try to get us to pay attention this time. It might be time to try to actually listen to the guy and join him in calling for more not less.

  22. 22
    southpaw says:

    You stay away from Ginny and Guesly.

    I’m also not sure your political analysis is right. The three turncoat Republicans did not have a principled reason for keeping the bill under $800 billion. They had a political reason for establishing that they had been able to constrain the president’s wild spending spree to the tune of around $100 billion dollars. In other words, the theoretical cap on this bill was not $800 billion; it was $100 billion less than whatever figure Obama asked for first.

  23. 23
    LeaningTowardUndecided says:

    Obama has created an atmosphere of overwhelmingly high expectations with his soaring rhetoric, personal charisma and promises to "change the way Washington does business". Once elected, presidents tend to lowball expectations exactly for the reason of making the politically possible seem like greater accomplishments than they really are. Hint, hint, Mr. President.

  24. 24
    passerby says:

    I think your post brings up a good point about 2 separate realities: Economic vs Political.

    Actual, effective economic solutions would cause pain to either banks and businesses or Americans at large. Political solutions are aimed at maintaining power for certain groups or individuals. [Hint: politicians are on the side of the money changers even though they supposedly represent The People.]

    Krugman may see a workable economic solution that lies so far out of the political realm as to be considered "hogwash", but in order to maintain his status on the talk circuit as an economic "expert", he doesn’t have the luxury of ignoring political realities so his attempts to address both within the same narrative ends up sounding like nonsense because it is nonsense.

    He’s trying to walk a tightrope between politics (a social dynamic) and economics (a mathematical approach) and because ne’er the twain shall meet, he loses integrity along the way.

  25. 25
    Other says:

    As I understand your post, you are annoyed that Krugman’s political view of what could have been done is different than yours.

    You write "A larger bill was not politically feasible . . . " That is possible. But it is also possible that if Obama had had asked for much more, the compromise would have ended up getting "a bigger bill" than Obama got.

    Certainly there was no rational thinking behind the "Senate Centrists"’ parameters other than being less than the House bill. If the House bill had been a trillion, maybe the "compromise" would have been 900 billion instead of 720 billion (the 70B in AMT fix is not stimulus.)

    Maybe you are right. But maybe you are wrong. I think it is fair that you acknowledge that.

  26. 26
    DougJ says:

    I think I’m with Krugman to some extent on this. Obama needs to get it through his head that he has to turn into FDR and just ram whatever he wants through Congress one way or another. He also has to make some very unpopular, heavy-handed decisions about the banking system.

    This isn’t a time for moderation I’m afraid.

    If I could bring Huey Long back from the head and install him in the White House, I would.

  27. 27
    Steve says:

    You can always look at the final product and theorize that this is the very best we ever could have gotten. But it’s not necessarily true.

    It’s not like the moderates were working off some formula that told them the bill could be this large and no larger. They simply cut it as much as they felt they could get away with. Hypothetically, if the administration had started with a higher opening bid, would the final number have been bigger? Impossible to say, but that’s how negotiations usually work.

    What if Obama had used the bully pulpit to argue that the bill should have a specific size, employing his persuasive powers to sell some Krugman-style economic arguments? Maybe the political calculus would have shifted favorably. We don’t really know.

    What if the final bill had been made more stimulative, for example by throwing out the AMT fix (which was in there at the behest of a Republican who voted no anyway) and inserting an actual job-creation measure? Again, we don’t know what would have happened if the Democrats had fought harder for this.

    I also agree with those who say it’s not really the job of a pundit like Krugman to settle for whatever is already politically possible. In fact, one way the universe of possibilities expands is when people make a persuasive case that we need to go further. And in this case, the real goal is not hand-wringing over the stimulus that is already a done deal, but making the case that we still need to go further if we want to fix the economy.

  28. 28
    Who'dve thunkit? says:

    Looks like your readers are smarter than you, John!

  29. 29
    DougJ says:

    I agree that Krugman doesn’t understand politics very well. And I get the feeling that he’s hinting Hillary would have done better.

  30. 30
    Zandar says:

    A large enough stimulus package that actually works is not politically feasible.

    Republicans screaming about generational theft after ignoring the last eight years is perfectly acceptable, however.

    Perhaps it’s not the stimulus that should have changed, but the Republicans.

    Pray tell, why are Republicans politically feasible at all right now?

  31. 31
    El Cid says:

    Feasibility and seriousness aside, it would have been kind of fun to watch Republicans just sh!t themselves had Obama asked for $10 or $20 trillion as a first step.

  32. 32
    John Cole says:

    I think I’m with Krugman to some extent on this. Obama needs to get it through his head that he has to turn into FDR and just ram whatever he wants through Congress one way or another. He also has to make some very unpopular, heavy-handed decisions about the banking system.

    This isn’t a time for moderation I’m afraid.

    Larison and others have been pointing out for, well, a year now, that the chief characteristic of Obama is that he is too establishment and a plodding moderate. Only the fire-breathing right-wingers who scream socialist and the far-left who have pinned all their wildest dreams on Obama think otherwise. I would be shocked to see him change who he is.

    I agree that Krugman doesn’t understand politics very well. And I get the feeling that he’s hinting Hillary would have done better.

    That goes without saying, on both counts.

  33. 33
    TheFountainHead says:

    I got no beef with Krugman, he calls ’em as he sees ’em. I may not like his conclusions, but on the merits, I think he’s got a fair argument. Personally, I’d like more attention being paid to that fact that Obama’s not cleaning up his own mess. He’s cleaning up after the Republican kegger, and they won’t stop staggering around and throwing up all over the place while he’s trying to do it, either.

  34. 34
    Napoleon says:

    If I could bring Huey Long back from the head and install him in the White House, I would.

    Is Huey taking a leak or something?

  35. 35
    SGEW says:

    Q:

    Pray tell, why are Republicans politically feasible at all right now?

    A:

    Cartman: Are you saying that one-fourth of Americans are retards?
    Kyle: Yes. I’m saying one-fourth of Americans are retards.
    Stan: Yeah, at least!
    Kyle: Let’s take a test sample: There’s four of us, and you’re a retard,

    See, also, approval ratings of Bush, George W.

  36. 36
    headpan says:

    Morality trumps political realities. FDR understood that and I am sick and tired of these dick drips trying to destroy everything good he ever did, obliterate his name from history, when their hard-workin daddies and grandaddies (none will own up to a privileged upbringing doncha know) DIRECTLY benefited from his administration thus they benefited indirectly as well. How hard is it to explain to the American peeps that trickle-up economics works? Because, geez, I don’t think the Reagan econ philosophy has really panned out too well, imo.

    I give up. Totally.

  37. 37
    ElBlot says:

    Good post John. While I love the Doctor and read him religiously his grasp of actual politics sometimes aggravates me.

  38. 38
    passerby says:

    @TheFountainHead:

    He’s cleaning up after the Republican kegger, and they won’t stop staggering around and throwing up all over the place while he’s trying to do it, either.

    Good analogy. This is going to take time. I think Americans will come up to speed faster than their Washington counterparts because it all rolls downhill and we’re catching the nasty end of this cleanup.

  39. 39
    Surly Duff says:

    For those of who claim that it isn’t Krugman’s job to consider the policital climate in his analysis – that is true, in regards to the extent to which the bill may or may not provide relief. His next sentence in the paper is "Let’s start with the politics". He obviously understands that politics were involved in the final bill, he just isn’t able to comprehend how political decisions work and can result in a plan that is less than acceptable to Mr. Krugman.

    He should warn that the bill isn’t enough, but he should also understand that the bill he wanted would never, ever happen.

  40. 40
    D-Chance. says:

    Your early wingnut post of the day:

    Robert Stacy McCain NOT having a "knee-jerk" reaction.

    His target, one Andrew Sargus, wrote:

    The right has developed a visceral knee-jerk reaction to anything involving culture…

    Stacy’s first paragraph in response:

    Listen up, punk: I majored in drama and minored in art and managed to squeeze in two semesters of music theory along the way. Right now, I’ve got a day gig as a documentary film editor. I’ve got more culture in the tip of my pinkie than you’ve got in your entire swinish soul. So don’t you tell me about my "knee-jerk reaction."

    If the man didn’t exist, someone would have to create him, and no one would buy into the character because it would be too much of a characature to be believable.

  41. 41

    On the other hand, if Op-Ed columnists would eschew the arm chair political strategizing and actually, you know, write Op-Eds, the political window would open up quite a bit. "Political reality" is a self-fulfilling prophesy when everyone agrees to take David Broder’s word for it.

  42. 42
    DougJ says:

    Larison and others have been pointing out for, well, a year now, that the chief characteristic of Obama is that he is too establishment and a plodding moderate.

    They’re right and I think that may be a big problem for Obama. I would hope he is willing to change who he if that’s what it takes to save the country from financial disaster.

  43. 43
    MH says:

    I’m gonna echo some above comments: the only reason a larger bill isn’t politically feasible is Harry frickin’ Reid’s refusal to make Republicans own their shit through filibuster.

    With Bush and Cheney gone, Reid and the media are the biggest obstacles for America. Blech.

  44. 44
    DecidedFenceSitter says:

    Not a filibuster folks. Senate rules: If the bill doesn’t pay for itself it needs 60 votes. To change that rule, you need 60 votes. No need for a cloture vote. A non-revenue neutral bill with 58 votes would just fail, just like a normal bill would if it got 48 votes.

  45. 45

    MH

    ARGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG

    A FILIBUSTER WOULDN’T HAVE DONE SHIT WITH THIS BILL. YOU HAVE TO HAVE 60 VOTES EVEN AFTER CLOTURE BECAUSE OF A POINT OF ORDER ABOUT BILLS THAT INVOLVE DEFICIT SPENDING. THEREFORE WE HAD TO HAVE AT LEAST 2 REPUBLICAN VOTES NO MATTER WHAT. IF YOU WANT TO KNOW WHY CLICK ON THE LINK IN MY EARLIER POST. THE MEDIA HAS FAILED US BY NOT POINTING OUT THIS CENTRAL FACT. HARRY REID IS IN FACT THE EPITOME OF WEAK SAUCE BUT THIS PARTICULAR TIME HIS HANDS WERE TIED.

    Im hoping with my over the top response that people might actually start paying attention to the facts.

  46. 46
    Napoleon says:

    John Judis makes related points in this article on TNR

    http://www.tnr.com/politics/st.....08cb437ccc

  47. 47
    zzyzx says:

    I’ve been seeing the same thing in DKos the past two days where people argue that this bill is horrible, not because of what it does, but because it sounds bad compared to the imaginary perfect bill they had in their head that would get like 12 votes in the Senate.

    I was doing my morning listen to yesterday’s Rush on my drive in and it stunned me how good this bill was. Rush tried to go on and on about how much pork was in the bill but he didn’t come up with one proposal that would let someone who didn’t agree with him say, "Well yeah, that’s completely uncalled for."

    New buildings for government agencies? Well maybe they’re wasteful if the old ones have plenty of room or are brand new or (for that matter) exist at all, but there definitely can be a case for them. Flood protection for cities? Can anyone say that that’s not needed after the past few years? Improving the sewers for DC? That sounds kind of important actually.

    Unless you’re opposed to the idea of government spending at all or you’re extremely scared about the debt (and have been consistent over the past 8 years), there isn’t much of an argument against. Sure you can come out against researching better batteries for hybrid cars, but the counterargument of, "Wouldn’t it be good for our economy if American companies and American factories built these?" is pretty hard to fight.

  48. 48
    MH says:

    @sgwhiteinfla:

    Calm down, you’ll give yourself a heart attack.

    I should have kept reading about the "60 votes for deficit" rule before opening my yap.

    I stand by the "obstacle" comment though.

  49. 49

    @John Cole: And Larison was correct about Obama being a moderate. Krugman may believe that the economy needs more money injected in the form of a stimulus package, but I personally think he is wrong. The real culprit here is the financial and banking sector. We may have had a cyclical downturn in the economy without the shitpile but it has exposed the wild speculation and opacity of these transactions.

    The bank bailout is where Obama should spend his political capital, if necessary. But I’m not crazy about the fact that he has no one on his team that saw this mess coming. Again–for the one thousandth time–nominate Nouriel Roubini as one of those people to be brought on board by the Obama administration to clean the shitpile up.

  50. 50
    headpan says:

    the chief characteristic of Obama is that he is too establishment and a plodding moderate

    Why is why I didn’t vote for him in the primaries. But he did so well, I’m like, hey, this guy prolly knows what he’s doing. I think he’s done great so far in handling the media and I just keep telling myself "he knows what he’s doing" because I certainly was wrong about him in the past . He has this "secret formula" to bring the country together, um, right? (actually, the economy tanking pretty much did that so why bother with pandering to repubes who were primarily responsible, I ask, but what do I know?)

    As much as I bitch, I’m still holding out hope that somehow, he really does know what he’s doing. But for the life of me, I’m not getting the big picture, apparently. And, again, I sure as hell would listen to Krugman before I’d listen to some Clinton-era strategist. This is not the 90’s. This is not your daddy’s economy.

  51. 51
    Comrade Jake says:

    @sgwhiteinfla:

    Thank you.

  52. 52
  53. 53
    MH says:

    He has this "secret formula" to bring the country together, um, right?

    If he doesn’t, then no one does. I give both options about a 50/50 chance.

  54. 54
    Mazacote Yorquest says:

    Krugman economically = Keynes
    Krugman politically = Leeroy Jenkins

  55. 55
    Stuck says:

    On the other hand,

    This was Harry Truman’s complaint about Economists in general. And why he wanted to find a one armed Economist, so he wouldn’t have to listen to them vacillate from one theory to another. My own impression is that old ways of analyzing the economic policies may be even less accurate than they were.

    Though I’m basically deficient on understanding the supposed science of economics, seems to me that the Bush years of massive tinkering has altered the foundations and normal series of hypotheticals that have given some ability to gauge If-then responses. I don’t believe any of them anymore. We are flying largely blind and by the seat of our pants.

  56. 56
    headpan says:

    Ah, the LauraW pet photos helped calm me down. What are these handsome black & white brindled/speckled pups made of? Oreo cookies? I must know. The photo of baby Walter is sweet as sweet can be – I died for a second. You still haven’t answered me as to how many pets you have. Names, I want names, and stats!

    ;^)

  57. 57
    El Cid says:

    By the way, it’s not unprecedented that the first attempt at recovery proves to be insufficient:

    The "First New Deal" of 1933 was aimed at short-term recovery programs for all groups. The Roosevelt administration promoted or implemented banking reform laws, emergency relief programs, work relief programs, agricultural programs, and industrial reform (the National Recovery Administration, NRA), and the end of the gold standard and Prohibition.

    A "Second New Deal" (1935–1938) included labor union support, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) relief program, the Social Security Act, and programs to aid farmers, including tenant farmers and migrant workers. The Supreme Court ruled several programs unconstitutional; however, most were soon replaced, with the exception of the NRA. The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 was the last major program launched, which set maximum hours and minimum wages for most categories of workers.

    Therefore, in 1933 it may have been the case that the "First" New Deal programs were both maximally politically feasible AND insufficient.

    Thus, if you want Obama to be FDR, then you’ve just now gotten your First New New Deal, and WE HAVE TO MAKE THE POLITICAL SPACE THROUGH GRASSROOTS EFFORT AND HELL-RAISING TO ENABLE ANY NEEDED "SECOND" NEW NEW DEAL.

    If you don’t do it, don’t blame Obama and the ‘centrist’ Dem’s.

  58. 58
    cleek says:

    Im hoping with my over the top response that people might actually start paying attention to the facts.

    welcome to the internet !

  59. 59
    Robert Johnston says:

    John Cole: Senate rules

    The Senate has the sole constitutional authority to judge whether senate rules have been followed. If a majority of a quorum of Senators vote to report out a bill, that serves as conclusive evidence that the bill has passed the Senate, and whether or not Senate rules were followed can not be questioned in any court or by the President.

    Adherence to Senate rules is a matter of comity and a matter of maintaining some sort of order, nothing more. Senate rules are purely internal and the Senate is constitutionally empowered to waive them at any time by majority vote.

    The Constitution is absurdly clear about this matter, and anyone who says that Senate rules rather than religious devotion to bipartisanship and comity are what’s in the way has not read the Constitution.

  60. 60
    Brian J says:

    What about reconciliation rules? That only requires 50 votes, as far as I can tell. It might delay the passage of the bill, but perhaps that’s worth it if it will get us a better bill.

    John, I understand where you are coming from, but the absolute last thing I want to see from Krugman is an explanation that the political realities couldn’t allow something. That’s a sign of defeat, even if it’s partly true. Once we start letting that sort of thinking become the main way we frame things, we cede way too much ground when we don’t have to.

    Even if you disagree with Krugman, as I sort of do, you have to admit that he’s serving a valuable purpose. Yes, I am more in your corner than his corner right now, because I do think the most important thing is getting something passed, if for no other reason than sending a signal that something worthwhile is being done. But really, this doesn’t look like the best piece of legislation that we could have had. Krugman’s job as a columnist, of course, is to remind us of that. Every time he speaks out in a column, or on his blog, or on television about what else should be done, Obama’s feet are being held to the fire by one of the top Democratic intellectuals in the country. It makes any sort of further progress down the road–deficit spending plans in the 2010 budget, for instance–that much more likely to happen.

  61. 61
    Laura W says:

    @headpan: Hey now…that was a political pic link! I soil enough serious threads with my pet photos. Don’t inflate my numbers.
    (The dogs are Blue Heeler/Aussie Cattle Dogs. Only one is mine…the smaller, pure bred one. I also have four cats. As of today.)

  62. 62
    ksmiami says:

    Off to Camillus House cause Miami’s homeless rate is rising, but I have two things to add:

    1) Happy Birthday to Charles Darwin

    2) The people who are comparing the US to Japan and talking about the threat of an economic lost decade do not know what the fuck they are talking about. Japan is a small island made up of a nearly completely homogenious society; no immigration, no mobility, low birthrates. It is also completely bureaucratic and has a government that is, if you can imagine, much less effective than ours. Yes, Americans are going to have learn to live with less, but our overall strength in innovation, immigration and natural resources plus the fact that Americans enjoy consumerism will mean that this recession is not going to be as long or as severe as what the Japanese went through. No, 15% returns are not realistic, but we will get out of this – which leads me to one last point. Despite Krugman’s rantings, I predict a turn around within 3 years and the permanent extinction of the Republican party if they continue to behave in direct contrast to the will of the American public.

    have a good day

  63. 63

    Calm down, you’ll give yourself a heart attack.

    That was my frustration busting through because I believe that if people were more informed about why we needed 60 votes they wouldn’t have unrealistic expectations and thus more people would be on board with the bill as it stands. But for some reason nobody will illuminate this point in the MSM or even on some of the bigger liberal/progressive blogs. So you have a lot of belly aching (I was actually one of the belly achers until I learned about the rules) on the blogs about the bill instead of people realizing what kind of victory for President Obama this really is. I am not happy about what Collins Snowe and Spector did to the bill but knowing that without them there wouldn’t be a bill has made me shift to fully endorsing it.

  64. 64
    georgia pig says:

    Krugman is an academic, he’s calculated that the output gap in the depression will be x, so let’s spend x. Generally, that’s correct and it’s important to keep that idea out there because it’s counterintuitive to most Americans because they think in terms of their own budgets. It’s one of those Lakoffian framing problems, Republicans have sold people on the metaphor structure that the government is a business, businesses are based on selfishness, and therefore the government should be characterized by parsimony against those without money because they’ll waste all "our" money. That’s a shitty metaphor, and has led to a lot of the problems we’re experiencing now.

    However, the logistical problem Obama faces is that it’s hard to spend that much money that fast without it turning into a clusterfuck. Remember the Halliburton fiascos in Iraq? Don’t think that the same shit can’t happen with the stimulus money. Once that ball gets rolling, it’s hard to control.

    That’s why Obama put the tax cuts in pre-emptively, even though he knows they’re theoretically less stimulative than well-executed government spending. The latter isn’t guaranteed to be well-executed, especially when the Republicans have spent the last two decades destroying or demoralizing the federal bureaucracy. Too much money too fast could be like a cocaine overdose. The tax cuts help bump up the dollars and reduce the exposure to corruption and mismanagement, and also allow him to deliver on a campaign promise.

    Obama’s walking a tightrope here. He’s trying to set up some infrastructure for effective government action, but that infrastructure simply is not there right now because of decades of Republican neglect and active sabotage (look what they did to the FDA and SEC, for example). The stimulus is a seed fund to set up that infrastructure, to provide a foundation for the even bigger, more transformative stuff he wants to do in the future. But he has to have some faith in government for that to happen. The package is aimed at building some public confidence that the government can find its ass with both hands, as well as a bit of a palliative to take the edge off unemployment over then next year or so. Will it work? Who knows, it depends on external events, the state of mind of the American public, Obama’s stamina and a host of other variables. I’m not that optimistic, but there don’t seem to be any better alternatives.

    This is all trust-building, a fight for hearts and minds carried out in an environment in which political terrorists are setting off ideological bombs at street corners. The Republicans have as much as admitted this, e.g., Sessions’ idiocy about being like the Taliban. They don’t want things to change because they believe their own bullshit, which, conveniently, gives them power. But they’re like the Taliban in that they don’t see that their notions of how the world should work aren’t operative anymore — they fuck too many people. However, you can’t directly assault them in some epic final battle. You have to marginalize them over time, alienate them from the bulk of the body politic. It’s domestic counterinsurgency.

    There’s no real problem with Krugman taking the positions he takes, as it helps shift the window in the ideological war and allows Obama to keep some rhetorical distance from the demonized "The Left." Krugman is operating in a different battle space than Obama, and I doubt Obama loses much sleep over what Krugman says.

  65. 65
    headpan says:

    Thus, if you want Obama to be FDR, then you’ve just now gotten your First New New Deal

    Considering we have Depression histories we should have learned from by now, not to mention Reaganomics, I am *personally* not impressed. But again, that just my opinion. But something is better than nothing – I just think what all those tax cuts, which apparently are CRITICAL to the survival of this country, are BS and could have been put to better use. I don’t want no frickin tax cut – they can keep the damn measley $400 and invest it in some kind of programs to help the poor or something.

    Anybody who didn’t catch the guy from Forbes on WJ this morning, try and watch the repeat. He had some great, reality-based, educative responses to morans calling in thinking that obliterating taxes will create utopia for all.

  66. 66
    Stuck says:

    @Robert Johnston:

    The bill will be subject to a point of order

    It is true that the Constitution explicitly grants the Senate the ability to make it’s own rules. And one of the rules adopted says that a 2/3 majority is needed to change Senate Rules. This was the whole beef about the nuke Option wingnuts were talking about doing for judges. The GOP was going to break that rule by fiat. and dems were countering that it was un-constitutional by extension of the mandate that senate rules were explicitly stated as a requirement in the constitution.

    As for the "Point of Order" , Normally points of order have to be actually made or raised by at least one senator, thus not making them "automatic". I have heard that the pay go rules out right mandate a 3/5 vote
    thus making raising a point of order moot. It doesn’t really matter though, since the GOP has decided to require everything make 60 votes to pass. So much for up or down voting they clamored for a couple of years ago.

    **and now John Mccain is whining again on the Senate floor that dems are un-bi-partisan and it’s not fair to make the claim that they WON the election. WATB/Maverick.

  67. 67
    Hugh says:

    I agree with Jon’s earlier comment. We have no idea whether or not a larger bill was politically impossible. The Republicans took swipes at this bill because it was Obama’s and the Democrats’ initiative, not its size. At least I think there’s a strong argument for that analysis. Jon is right to say that we can’t know what would have happened had the initial bill been significantly larger. Perhaps the Republicans would have done exactly the same thing. Or they might have done exactly the same thing had the bill been significantly smaller (I believe they would have).

    Krugman is saying Obama was too interested in an ideological goal, bipartisanship, and that this had a negative impact on this bill. I have to say I agree with that.

  68. 68
    The Other Steve says:

    After seeing the end product, I’m not enthused with the bill.

    The tax cuts it contains are worthless, and there isn’t enough useful spending.

    I think it would have been best to fund railroad projects, smart electrical grid, etc… good long term infrastructure.

    Buy my bill would have only gotten 12 votes in the Senate.

  69. 69
    Brian J says:

    Republicans screaming about generational theft after ignoring the last eight years is perfectly acceptable, however.

    It’s only acceptable because, far too often, the Democrats refuse to fight back. Say what you want about someone like Keith Olbermann, but he has the balls to stare right into the camera and go after Bush for causing 4,000 deaths in Iraq without blinking. Maybe it’s because of a cowardly attitude towards their ideals, maybe it’s because they simply aren’t used to acting like a bunch of assholes towards an end game, or maybe it’s because they are simply outsmarted much of the time on a strategic level. Whatever the case, the Democrats who aren’t required to act in a certain graceful way (some legislator versus the president) need to pound back even harder. Where are, for instance, the thunderous denunciations about generational theft? Why aren’t these people being reminded that because of their tax cuts and spending plans, we are several trillion in the hole with very, very little to show for it?

  70. 70
    Comrade Mary, Would-Be Minion Of Bad Horse says:

    Adherence to Senate rules is a matter of comity and a matter of maintaining some sort of order, nothing more. Senate rules are purely internal and the Senate is constitutionally empowered to waive them at any time by MAJORITY vote.

    Link? I’ve read that a supermajority, not a simple majority, is required to overturn the ruling. Which brings us back to square one.

  71. 71
    Media Browski says:

    Kruggles is a fanatastic economist and a terrible political economist. He’s a great indicator of the difference between academics and people who actually work in politics.

  72. 72
    Stuck says:

    @Comrade Mary, Would-Be Minion Of Bad Horse:

    It’s a 67 vote supermajority, or a 2/3 vote to needed change senate rules.

  73. 73
    headpan says:

    LauraW, only four?! I have one ornery, "bag of hate" tortie desperately in need of a tummy tuck which I will gladly ship to you, free of charge, parcel post. you need 5 – definitely, you need 5

    Trust me :)

  74. 74
    zzyzx says:

    There’s a chance that the Senate majority could just railroad through some rule changes, but at some point there will be something that we’d want that a bare bones 51 votes could be mustered for. I like minority rights in the Congress; the Senate isn’t supposed to move quickly.

  75. 75
    Stuck says:

    In 2005, then Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist threatened to end Democratic filibuster of judicial nominees by something called the "nuclear option." It is actually a series of steps designed to bypass the two-thirds vote requirement to change rules

  76. 76

    Krugman’s point is that the political realities are the problem. It should be noted that GOP governors have no problem with a larger stimulus bill. The national GOP structure wants the stimulus to have less impact, keeping unemployment high, which in turn could scuttle the Obama Administration and lead to a GOP resurgence in the 2010 mid-terms.

  77. 77
    itsbenj says:

    Well, I can’t agree, even given that 60 votes are needed on the bill. We never got the chance to find out. Obama proposed massive tax cuts himself and just thought he’d get good will in return, before negotiations even began. Had he not, there is certainly a chance that they could have been used as a bargaining chip to pick off some support. Sure its possible that it wouldn’t have worked, but you never know until you try. And Obama and the Dems didn’t really try.

    And I don’t see anywhere in there where Krugman is wrong. It’s not his job or his role to accommodate weak tactics on the part of Dems, its his role to be an agitator, to speak the truth, and to say, quite out-loud, that an economic recovery package which doesn’t have the juice to do what its supposed to (according to his Nobel prize-winning knowledge of economics), is inadequate. It may not be what you want to read, but he is right for saying it.

  78. 78
    jenniebee says:

    Shorter David Brooks:

    Losing your job is all in your head, and if the government tries to curb job losses all it will do is to feed your delusional "reality" making it more real. The American people must fight their way out of their imaginary impoverishment by going out to Applebees and visiting their salad bar (if you were as sane as David Brooks you would be able to see the salad bar, really you would).

    Gaaah! Gahhhhhh!

  79. 79
    jenniebee says:

    @itsbenj: I agree – it’s frustrating in a way that Krugman isn’t giving Obama any props, but he is giving the administration a good "out" if the recovery is slow – he’s laying the groundwork for the argument ten months from now that more stimulus would be better.

  80. 80
    John Cole says:

    @dan robinson: That is an interesting way to look at it.

  81. 81
    Tom Hilton says:

    Krugman is a very smart economist, and I’m happy to defer to him on economic matters; when he says the stimulus bill isn’t enough, I imagine he’s probably right.

    That doesn’t mean he has any idea what he’s talking about on political strategy. When he wanders into that field–when he effectively claims to be a better strategist than Obama himself–that’s when I get annoyed.

  82. 82
    Stuck says:

    Greenwald essentially argues that what needs to be done is to change the political realities.

    Greenwald is promoting the need to agitate simply for the sake of agitating. And also because, since Goopers require fealty from their politicians, then democrats must do the opposite. He has become both an ideologue and full throated reactionary looking for something to holler about. He has also now joined "the Obama supporters have become mindless cheerleaders" movement made famous by wingnuts and PUMA dead enders. When he starts to mention actual instances of where Obama has veered away from what he calls liberal policies then I will start listening to him. No, on second thought, when he finds genuine instances where Obama has veered away from his Campaign Promises, then I will again listen. Right now he seems just a stone thrower because Obama is acting like the President of the United States, rather than the President of Liberals.

  83. 83

    John Cole

    Thanks for the update. Hopefully people will finally take notice of the need for 60 votes.

    As for Krugman, I am going to piss a lot of people off about this but I do have to point something out. Pretty much from day one he has been saying that the Republicans weren’t going to act in good faith and thats why the stimulus needed to be bigger and bolder. Was he wrong about how the Republicans handled it? And if Obama realized that going in is there a chance he might have handled it differently? Well Obama DID say if he had to do it over again he would have let the Rethugs bring up tax cuts and let them take credit for all of them. I realize it was said in half jest, but one wonders…

  84. 84
    Tom Hilton says:

    Pretty much from day one he has been saying that the Republicans weren’t going to act in good faith and thats why the stimulus needed to be bigger and bolder. Was he wrong about how the Republicans handled it?

    Krugman wasn’t wrong about how the Republicans would behave; I think the conclusions he draws (that a) Obama wasn’t prepared for it, and b) the bipartisan positioning was a mistake) are completely wrong.

    Krugman, Greenwald, and most of the blogosphere (left and right) prize combativeness for its own sake, and have no respect for any strategy that is less combative than they would be in the same situation. It isn’t a pragmatic evaluation of what actually works; it’s a rationalization of their own knee-jerk reactions.

  85. 85
    wilfred says:

    Weren’t we all better off when the Times had its firewall? I miss not hearing what its columnists have to say.

    Even so, Krugman is right about nationalizing the banks. Why is it that when presented with a crisis/opportunity the only thing we get is more of the same crap that gave us the crisis.

    We could call the nationalized mortgage industry Homeland/Homelend.

  86. 86
    John Cole says:

    The only thing Glenn Greenwald has said that annoyed me was his unfair broadside against Mark Ambinder and Andrew Sullivan the other day. I remember thinking that it smacked of the kind of bad faith accusations people always launch at him, and I think those are bullshit.

    Ambinder basically was just telling people what a staffer told him, and then reprinted it on his blog. To accuse him of being a “stenographer” (with all the negative connotations of our recent lazy and subservient media) when all he was doing was… openly admitting to just relaying what he had been told seemed unfair. He wasn’t trying to do anything else but provide people with what he had heard.

    As to Sullivan, his every single thought and emotion is captured, in long-form, on his blog. You can’t just snip a few words of it and get the full gist of what he is saying.

    That is the only thing Glenn has done that I thought felt unfair. Other than that, he has strong beliefs, and is openly agitating for them. I think that is a good thing and support it. I am willing to give the administration some time to figure things out regarding secrets, Glenn is not. And, if there were not people like him pushing, who knows- the administration might get complacent, thinking everyone is like me.

    Basically, more power to ’em, but I don’t like the bad faith attacks. I happen to think Ambinder and Sullivan try to shoot straight and don’t deserve to be treated the same way you would treat Judy Miller.

  87. 87
    John Cole says:

    Krugman, Greenwald, and most of the blogosphere (left and right) prize combativeness for its own sake, and have no respect for any strategy that is less combative than they would be in the same situation. It isn’t a pragmatic evaluation of what actually works; it’s a rationalization of their own knee-jerk reactions.

    Sirota.

  88. 88
    Elie says:

    — Again, I guess its necessary for a variety of commenters to think that if only x is done, the fix of this complex and convoluted situation could be fixed. Maybe.

    The beauty of it for Krugman and other perfectionists — especially knowing that certain approaches are not politically feasible, he can always say later that he knew that what was passed wasnt going to work — only his solution would have worked — which gives him a lot more grist to talk about. Its really pretty disingenuous to suggest policy that cannot be realistically done. Yeah, if we had a perfect world, a lot of things would be possible.

    I am going to make an imperfect analogy of what I think our situation is like. I use a medical example because I have a clinical background. I acknowledge its not perfect but here it goes:

    We have a multidimensional mess that grew on itself like some sort of rare tumor..not all parts of the mass and its impact in the patient are the same thing (or tissue) and the relationships among the parts are not all clear at this time. Some pieces effect the core blood vessels, other parts, the function of key organs.

    Surgery (or a cure if possible) involves shrinking the mass first and then seeing what you have, taking other measures such as chemo or medication therapy, then seeing what you have, a little radiation maybe, then seeing what you have. All along, the patient can have complications to the treatment and not do well or die — or the tumor may not respond and keep growing. The docs try the conventional and unconvetional but always its not just what the books say should happen, but applying their expertise and adapting to changing conditions in the tumor and the patient. You find out quickly in medicine (and life) that many times the condition doesnt always follow the books so you have to work with it.

    The sad truth is that a clean "fix" may not be possible. Only a wounded survival and perhaps the system dies and has to be restored some other way.

    Krugman is not providing information or suggestions in a way that would be most helpful…that is, he is not suggesting options within the reality that has to be addressed while applying the treatment. All treatments have to be customized to the condition and attributes of the patient and the idiosynchracies of the disease..there is no PURE treatment outside of that context.

    We cannot afford such egotism and we would be appalled to see a doc completely ignore the realities of the patient or the vagaries and particular reactions of the disease to apply a treatment. Krugman needs to acknowledge limitations of some sort to be taken more seriously and to be less self serving, in my opinion…

  89. 89
    Stuck says:

    Other than that, he has strong beliefs, and is openly agitating for them. I think that is a good thing and support it. I am willing to give the administration some time to figure things out regarding secrets, Glenn is not. And, if there were not people like him pushing, who knows- the administration might get complacent, thinking everyone is like me.

    i don’t disagree with that, and enjoy reading Greenwald. It’s a matter of degree and thinking things thru before he slings the righteous mud. Lately, he seems to have departed from those virtues.

  90. 90
    John Cole says:

    Well, time for my own bad faith accusation. I don’t think Krugman would be making the same arguments right now if Hillary were President. Instead, we would be getting stuff like “This bill is good, but probably not enough. Hillary tried to work with the Republicans, but they can’t get over their Clinton hatred.”

    It isn’t just the Republicans who can’t get over re-fighting the same old battles (see Viet Nam). The left has their share of those folks.

    Cue fifty people calling me a Krugman hater and telling me I am channeling my inner wingnut.

  91. 91
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @southpaw: What Southpaw said.

  92. 92
    Stuck says:

    Hillary tried to work with the Republicans, but they can’t get over their Clinton hatred.

    If Hilary was president, the ghost of Jesse Helms would be making all our lives miserable.

  93. 93
    tim says:

    Andrew Sullivan as a straight shooter?

    Time for more anti-wingnut electroshock, John.

    Yes, you ARE channeling your old wingnut psychosis at times.

  94. 94
    El Cid says:

    “This bill is good, but probably not enough. Hillary tried to work with the Republicans, but they can’t get over their Clinton hatred.”

    It’s possible. I could imagine that. But I can also see Krugman in that alterna-verse strongly dissenting from HRC and scolding her equally for not making the bill correctly sized (in his economic view), the ‘centrists’ for pulling their fetish sh!t again, and the Republicans as (correctly) Clinton-obsessed and still hostilely irrational nuts. In other words, I could imagine him issuing pretty much the same criticisms but with a slightly different context.

    But I do think it is important to not let Krugman’s legitimate criticisms of a political establishment unable to sufficiently (in his analysis) respond to an economic crisis be used as some nonsense fantasy that HRC was somehow much more bold and progressive, a fantasy I’ve never been able to reconcile with actual history.

  95. 95
    Lev says:

    Krugman has never understood politics. Ever. He’s a world class economist but his commentary during the Democratic primaries was unbelievably asinine: for example, he attacked Barack Obama fourteen times because his health plan didn’t have a mandate (about once weekly). Look, I am sure saying it once or twice to get it on the record makes sense, but this is just silly. Near the end he was just a Clinton hack, and before that he was an Edwards hack, which was baffling. Anyone who took time to notice realized that Edwards was a hairdo. But folks like Krugman loved Edwards’s policies, as though he would have just printed out the "Issues" section on his website and handed it to Nancy Pelosi, saying, "Get ‘r done."

  96. 96
    John Cole says:

    Near the end he was just a Clinton hack, and before that he was an Edwards hack, which was baffling. Anyone who took time to notice realized that Edwards was a hairdo. But folks like Krugman loved Edwards’s policies, as though he would have just printed out the “Issues” section on his website and handed it to Nancy Pelosi, saying, “Get ‘r done.”

    I know I hate it when people do their pop psychology schtick, but here I am about to do my own. You simply have to understand that when it comes to politics, a not insubstantial portion of the left wants to fight the same old battles. They simply can not move on. If you look at it from that perspective, it makes complete sense. Of course he supported Edwards- he gets to work to re-fight the wrong of the 2004 election. Of course he supported Hillary- another chance to fight the wars ofthe 90’s where Krugman feels the Clintons were wronged.

    Now it would be simplistic and unfair to claim those are the only reasons, as obviously Krugman is a serious person and had legitimate policy agreements with both of them. However, I really believe there is an element of this at play.

  97. 97
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    John, Krugman isn’t the lefty grudgemonger yer creating. He’s basically a centrist wonk economist. He’s not refighting old battles, he’s simply calling attention to whatever meets his wonkish criteria for good public policy.

  98. 98
    El Cid says:

    You simply have to understand that when it comes to politics, a not insubstantial portion of the left wants to fight the same old battles. They simply can not move on.

    Speaking for myself as an extreme, fringe leftist who did in fact strongly opposed many of the mainstream policies of the 1990s, I assure you personally of two things:

    (1) Correctly or incorrectly (and I think we fringe lefties have been spot-on issue-wise, politics-wise not so much), I oppose policies I think are wrong and support policies I think are correct in and of themselves, and not because they have been labeled or dismissed as "leftist" or because they were a still-aching sore spot from an ancient age.

    (2) If I happen to mention previous situations, it’s not because I’m stuck in the past, but often think it can help debates for the present to recall how certain wrong arguments or bad policies were trouble before.

    Krugman I can’t speak for, but he seemed to me to indeed be a real dick to Obama many times during the primary. I disagreed with him strongly, but I don’t get the feeling from him recently that he’s dealing with unresolved politico-psychological issues.

  99. 99
    Elie says:

    — I also think that though there is suffering out here — it isnt yet at the scale and degree to take the bs out of our current discourse. This allows for the kind of politics and wonkery that would be unthinkable in a situation where everyone knows the lifeboat is sinking and its time to get serious.

    As bad as many experienced job losses and losses to their savings, the full consequence has just not played out to the degree that people are really saying "Holy Shit, we had better really do something that works and we had all better put skin in it"

    The Republicans are thinking that no one is going to be suffering to the degree that their failure to act and hypocrisy is going to make them pay a price and the left bloggers and left pundits are still just trying to keep the hits on their websites up and stimulate more argumentative debates to generate interest in their websites and future articles and books. The only folks worried about forestalling the really bad outcome is the current administration who of course, are highly motivated to have things work out and prevent such scenarios.

    No one else is really serious — not yet anyway. The tone and focus will change radically and in direct relationship to the climbing unemployment rate and business failure rate.
    Then we will see who can "Man UP" and be ready to deal with the circumstances.

  100. 100
    boukman70 says:

    While I agree that anything larger was not politically feasible (and I don’t know if I really wanted this initial outlay–we know there’ll be others–to be any bigger), I do think after the failure of the vast majority of pop economists and all the "business journalists" out there to warn us of this latest calamity, I’m glad Krugman’s out there blowing his horn. We need someone out there who hasn’t downed the Kool-Aid.

  101. 101
    John Cole says:

    He’s basically a centrist wonk economist.

    He may be a centrist wonk economist, but he has more than dipped his toes into politics the past eight years. At times, he was the only one making critical political arguments over the past eight years.

    Now, I would argue there was value in that, especially given how wrong I was and how beholden the media and many were to the Bush administration’s agenda. Someone had to say it, and at times the only people who were even somewhat mainstream saying it were Molly Ivins and Kthug. However, it is a complete and total rewrite to pretend that he is an apolitical policy wonk. Did you miss the last eight years of ‘Paul Krugman is shrill’ jokes?

    Granted, I fully acknowledge there may be unresolved shit in my pumpkin head regarding Krugman, but you can’t deny Krugman is political. The problem is that for the past year, he has been really bad at the politics part.

  102. 102
    Doug H. (Comrade Fausto no more) says:

    @John Cole:

    You simply have to understand that when it comes to politics, a not insubstantial portion of the left wants to fight the same old battles.

    Its more than just the left. We’re still receiving a daily dose of the Right refighting the last thirty (forty?) years too.

  103. 103
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @John Cole: Just stick to what you do best: killing and eating Republicans. :)

  104. 104
    Laura W says:

    @Krugman hater:

    unresolved shit in my pumpkin head

    Best visual image of my day thus far.
    What purty pictures you paint with words.

  105. 105
    Rick Taylor says:

    While I see your point about Krugman, I still think he does far more good than harm; he’s one of the few people out there regularly taking apart the Republican soundbites. He’s a wonk, not a politician, but I’m very glad we have him.

    On the other hand, John Galbraith is also an eminent economist who says what Krugman does, but along the lines you recommend, beginning with this bill needs to pass and this is what else needs to happen. I recommend him highly; he was recently interviewed on Democracy Now.

  106. 106
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @Laura W:

    @Krugman hater:

    Haha. You can prolly just shorten that to "hater".

  107. 107
    Laura W says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead:

    killing and eating Republicans

    You can prolly just reword that to "eating…and killing Republicans.
    ;-)

  108. 108
    Corner Stone says:

    But the point remains that a larger bill was not political feasible. At all. The current bill just barely is getting the support from the three Republicans it needs, and this is after hundreds of hours of bickering, of paring down spending, and so forth.

    Skipping past all comments so sorry if this was debated earlier.
    I’d like to rebut this point of view. The point is not that this bill could not be any larger and still pass, the point is that absolutely no one has any idea what the actual number *should* be. If the Obama team had early on started leaking that the number had to be big (which they did, just not big enough) but started in the trillion to 2 trillion range, eventually put something gargantuan out there and let the Repubs pick it off down to say $1.2 or so then we’d be in a different place. Even though $800B is a shah-hoog number, it seems to most economists that Obama started out playing smallball, and is now paying the price.
    IOW, it was completely predictable that any number the Obama team threw out there would get criticized and beat down. Why not start with a laughable number and let it come down through attritition? Every child knows this, you don’t start at where you want to end up.

  109. 109
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    lmfao

  110. 110
    The Raven says:

    Krugman’s conclusion agrees with yours:

    I’ve got a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach — a feeling that America just isn’t rising to the greatest economic challenge in 70 years

    He’s right–and these views aren’t his alone; they’re the views of pretty much every economist who’s been right about this. Krawk!

  111. 111
    El Cid says:

    Via TomP in the Daily Kos: Rahm Emanuel feels that too much of a bipartisan outreach got in the way of promoting the stimulus bill plan itself:

    Excerpts quoting Emanuel:

    Emanuel conceded that the White House "lost" four days of the clash, but said it was because Obama focused too much on bipartisanship at the expense of talking up the benefits of the still-emerging proposal…

    …Mr. Emanuel owned up to one mistake: message. What he called the outside game slipped away from the White House last week, when the president and others stressed bipartisanship rather than job creation as they moved toward passing the measure. White House officials allowed an insatiable desire in Washington for bipartisanship to cloud the economic message a point coming clear in a study being conducted on what went wrong and what went right with the package, he said…

    But, he said, Washington should have learned something about Mr. Obama as well, with the shift from bipartisan overtures to outright mockery of his oppositionHe has an open hand, Mr. Emanuel said. But he has a very firm handshake.

    For Obama’s next act, the program is the same as he has been planning for months: New Deal-style plans to rescue struggling homeowners and rewrite regulations on the financial markets, plus a budget proposal that lays the groundwork for sweeping health care reform.

    But the strategy to promote these items is getting an emergency overhaul. Obama plans to travel more and campaign more in an effort to pressure lawmakers with public support, rather than worrying about whether he can win over Republican votes in Congress. Officials suggested that the new, more partisan tone Obama embraced last week in his speech before House Democrats at their retreat and continued at his news conference Monday was what he should have been doing all along.

    Can I add that I hope they don’t repeat that weird expression about open hand / firm handshake?

  112. 112
    Stuck says:

    Coulda, shoulda, woulda.

    There are several more very large bailout and spending bills coming down the pike shortly. And each one, the public will need to chew on before swallowing. My guess is, they were cognizant of this fact and didn’t want to announce the first one starting out with the T word, which may or may not have gotten stuck in the public’s gullet (and hence made their congresscritters antsy) before the next big shit sandwich’s stuffed with taxpayer cash are laid on the table.

    We’re no where near done with the Chinese loan sharks and politics is always a player in game.

  113. 113
    Gay Veteran says:

    The simple fact is that Obama fucked up. He pre-compromised the bill with tax cuts and was all surprised when the Confederates….er, Republicans, wanted more.

    Why didn’t he campaign for a larger bill that would indeed provide enough stimulus???

    And it doesn’t help when so many on the left defend everything Obama does instead of PUSHING him to do the right thing.

  114. 114
    The Raven says:

    I’m puzzled as to what a filibuster would have done, when half the Senate Democrats are conservative. I don’t know if Obama could have done better, but I know he had a hard row to hoe. (And we corvids are going to come along and eat the corn. Krawk!)

  115. 115
    terry chay says:

    First: did anyone notice how Obama “conceded” on the middle class tax cut. Nice one.

    I didn’t see anything wrong with PK’s article: most experts agree that the stimulus is too small and the tax cuts won’t affect anyone except people in my (upper middle) income bracket—that I’d be exempt from AMT is… ridiculous. (On a personal note, I’m glad they paired down the tax cut. Disappointed that it couldn’t have been removed entirely.) The fact that “the political reality” that a larger spending bill couldn’t pass gets me angry—“moderate senators and right-leaning democrats” playing political games at the cost of my fellow Americans’ jobs deserves that in the very least!

    Or, think about it: every day they dawdle with their FOX talking points is another 10k in jobs going down the rabbit hole.

    Calling out Krugman on this seems like grasping at straws there John. If you want to get in on some Krugman annoyance, better to remember how he was an ardent Clinton supporter in the last election (and some of that reasoning wasn’t economic but clearly political). Right now he has the majority position both among the economists and among the electorate.

    This is why, when people ask my political leanings, I say, “I’m so conservative, I’m almost a Democrat.”

  116. 116
    eyelessgame says:

    A few more details about that 60-vote thing.

    a) It’s irrelevant whether Judd Gregg is voting no or not voting. What matters is whether there are 60 yes votes.

    b) Kennedy is a senator but Franken is not. The Senate has 99 members. 3/5 of 100 is 60. 3/5 of 99 is also 60, the way the Senate rounds. Which means that both Kennedy and Franken hurt us by not being present.

    c) Ironically and horribly, if (god forbid) Kennedy were to die — or, less macabrely, if he were to announce his retirement for health reasons and resign from the Senate — passage of the bill would be easier, because 3/5 of 98 is only 59. (This is also true for any of the senators who do not plan to, or are not able to, vote yes.)

  117. 117
    Rome Again says:

    Oh God. Someone get these stupid "we’re not the party of NO" House Republicans off my television before I pop a blood vessel.

  118. 118
    Steve S. says:

    Shorter John Cole: Krugman needs to STFU.

    You’re turning into a sad little joke. Apparently it’s just too difficult for you to hold the following two thoughts in your head at the same time; that X is the politically feasible thing in the short term, but Y is the right thing to do, and the intellectually honest thing for me to do is speak forcefully for Y at every opportunity. I’m truly sorry that Nobel Laureates can hold two thoughts like this simultaneously but you can’t, but at least you can tell them to STFU. So keep doing what you’re good at, telling people to STFU. Fortunately for all of us, I don’t think Krugman’s listening.

  119. 119
    Elie says:

    # 113 — And you of course know exactly how much more stimulus would have worked — assuming that this won’t of course….

    Somehow I just have the image of the Democrats, left bloggers and wonks chasing each other around the kitchen table with meat cleavers…

    Of course, if whatever is done doesnt work, we will of course in 3-4 years still be sitting comfortably in our home offices at our pc’s opining how we could/should have done it better. Doesnt seem like it ocurrs to us that if this doesnt work, maybe we won’t be in good shape at all, that maybe there will be bread lines and soup lines and marauders and chaos. But never fear, some of us will have been right all along and nothing else matters…they will remind us over and over

    While its just fine to say that Obama or whoever screwed up, what are we going to do to help and not just BE RIGHT, for Pete’s sake? He has had approx 3 mos since the election to ramp up, investigate the reality and begin to put his hand on all the levers through appointments, legislation and investigation of what is really happening. 3 months to know what he can and to step into the politics of a snake pit. Honestly, do you think he wants to be wrong – to screw up? Do you think any of us wants to really see the worst possible outcome?

    Let us admit that there remains at least some uncertainty and that while Obama may not have done what some specific group wanted, that he perhaps has a right to his own take, prioritization and weighting on things — not a wrong take, but different than how someone else might see it but be assured that he doesnt want to fail. He and his administration have their hands on the tiller and his fingerprints will be on what happens…

    Four years from now, only sickos will want to have been right at the expense of what that would mean. Good faith is a two way street. Good faith argues for some sence of humility and acknowledgement that what you know may not be all that needs to be known or all that is important. Unless you think that Obama is trying to screw us, I would like to see more of that reflected in our opinions.

  120. 120
    John Cole says:

    @Steve S.: How is that K-Thug tattoo working out? Does the fan club come with a newsletter?

  121. 121
    Bulworth says:

    Thanks for clarifying the issue about the Senate/filibuster rules at work here.

  122. 122
    Laura W says:

    @Elie: I find your comments to be especially insightful, impassioned and well-informed.
    I am very glad you are hanging around here right now.
    (er…assuming you’re not a regular using a different name. I guess I need to be ever-mindful about that around here.)

  123. 123
    Steve S. says:

    How is that K-Thug tattoo working out? Does the fan club come with a newsletter?

    Fortunately, I don’t understand this reference. Maybe you could explain it to me. That is, if you can find the time in between telling Krugman, the media, the blogosphere, half your commenters, the children in your neighborhood, and the voices in your head to STFU. It’s a busy, not to mention cognitively dissonant, life for you, what with your day job being to start conversations, then telling everybody to STFU. If it takes you a little time to get around to explaining it I’ll understand.

  124. 124
    Batocchio says:

    Like others, I agree Krugman’s completely right to discuss the economic consequences of this bill. In terms of the politics, he’s correctly bashing the Republicans for being idiots and villains on both policy and politics. Obama faces a very tough political and media climate, without question. But Geithner’ statements once again raise legitmate questions about the degree to which Obama’s administration really understands the situation. How much of what’s going on is a failure of political power versus political will versus policy insight? It seems like a mix. Geithner still seems to be catering to entrenched powers with little commitment to oversight and accountability (and Collins is a scoundrel for stripping oversight measures from the bill). Obama is already being accused of being a socialist (again), and anything to the left of feudalism will be denounced as such. So what’s the next play? I take your point, but Krugman’s consistently saying much of what needs to be said. Political progress needs both good wonks and skilled operators. Plus, some accounts indicate Emmanuel really mishandled this one, and Obama’s admitted to some of his mistakes on this bill on the political front. I think it’s right and smart for Obama to keep on trying the bipartisan thing or sounding those notes, but he’d be stupid to expect the Republicans will actually behave like responsible adults in the nation’s best interest. He has to keep highlighting GOP obstruction, the utter failure of their policies, and can’t approach bills as if Congress is dominated by smart, concerned, good faith people who want to work together to make things better. It’s a negotiation with far too many people who are self-interested at best, and stupid, evil and insane at worst. The bill would have been much better had Obama started with a much stronger opening postion for bargaining, as he’s admitted, and let’s hope he takes that lesson to heart. Next up, the partial nationalization-good bank-stress test issue…

  125. 125
    Stuck says:

    That is, if you can find the time in between telling Krugman, the media, the blogosphere, half your commenters, the children in your neighborhood, and the voices in your head to STFU. It’s a busy, not to mention cognitively dissonant, life for you, what with your day job being to start conversations, then telling everybody to STFU. If it takes you a little time to get around to explaining it I’ll understand.

    We don’t do groupthink here. You might even be getting the hang of it.

  126. 126
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    Note to self: Don’t antagonize Steve S.

  127. 127
    Elie says:

    Laura —

    Yes I am new around here — really enjoying the discussion even though I sometimes passionately disagree — most people here seem to want to really share opinions… not always the case elsewhere —

    Thanks!

  128. 128
    Rome Again says:

    This place is fucking boring today.

    Snap out of it and put up a thread where I can hate on these crybaby Repubs. I’m so sick of them acting like two year olds and you just ignore it.

    Hello? Is this thing working?

  129. 129
    Laura W says:

    @Rome Again: If you get MSNBC put Tweety on. Debbie WS is kicking ass.

  130. 130
    ricky says:

    This economics stuff is sooo complicated I will just go back and hold my breath until Obama has the courage to prosecute the CIA for killing Kennedy.

  131. 131
    Rome Again says:

    @Laura W:

    I’ve got it on but I’m having trouble getting past Tweety and this loudmouthed blowhard she’s arguing against.

    And she didn’t get to talk nearly as much as he did. Now it’s over.

  132. 132
    Laura W says:

    @Rome Again: Well if you missed the first part try to catch it as the replay. (Ours comes on two hours from now.)
    "This vote is all about 2010. They are hoping it will fail so they can blame the failed economy on the Dems. Both of our governors (FL and CA) support it. Everything in the bill is online at…."
    She’s the bestest.

  133. 133
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @Elie: You need a better handle and a niche. Something that screams, I really gotta read (insert Elie’s cool new handle here). You’ll never make it on your opinion alone. Everybody’s got a fucking opinion. Hell, I got two of ’em.

    You want to stand out. Suggestions:

    Curse a lot. No, more than that.
    Be rude to others, particularly our hosts.
    Get a KThug tattoo, all the cats got ’em these days.
    Be aware of all internets traditions, use slang to appear hip.
    Build a giant pizza oven in your backyard.
    Engage in wildly inappropriate sexual banter.
    Stalk a fellow commenter online for a few a weeks.

    Can you do spoof? That seems to be pretty popular around here too. Anyway, good luck. I’m rootin’ for ya.

  134. 134
    Laura W says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead: I can haz brain anurism surgry now pleeze?

  135. 135
    John Cole says:

    I’m still missing how I am telling people to STFU, what with the comments and everything.

    At any rate, anyone who thinks that a stimulus bill the size of what Krugman thinks needs to be passed would have had any chance getting through both houses of Congress is just smoking rocks.

    Now, mind you, I think Krugman is most likely right that this bill is, from an economic standpoint, probably too small. I am no economist, but his arguments make a lot of sense, and given that he has been right on so many things all along, it is foolish to disregard him. And, mind you, he is probably right that if we had 789 billion in straight up spending, rather than split down the middle on tax cuts and spending, it would be far better.

    But the political reality of the matter is we would never have gotten a bill of just 800 billion in straight spending. If Obama had done a few things different, I bet they could have maybe gotten another 50-100 billion, tops, but nothing on the order of what Krugman thinks needs to be spent.

    The political reality is that the Republican Senators, who we have to have to get this passed, would never have signed on to a trillion and a half sized bill (which is around what I think Krugman was suggesting- it may be 1.3-1.4 trillion, but I forget). Nelson would never vote for that. Lieberman wouldn’t. Blue dogs in the house would have been running for the hills. It never would have happened.

    You just have to look at what is happening right now- even though the bill is only 800 billion (300+ of tax cuts and 400+ of spending), the Republicans are all calling it a “trillion dollar spending bill.” Ask yourself, why might they be doing that?

    Paul Krugman never figured that out, Steve S. still hasn’t. Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Obama did.

    Not sure why I even bothered typing this, because all Steve S. is going to see is “STFU.”

    Whatever.

  136. 136
    Elie says:

    Fuckhead —

    You betcha I do, ‘wink, wink’ —

  137. 137
    John Cole says:

    Fortunately, I don’t understand this reference. Maybe you could explain it to me. That is, if you can find the time in between telling Krugman, the media, the blogosphere, half your commenters, the children in your neighborhood, and the voices in your head to STFU. It’s a busy, not to mention cognitively dissonant, life for you, what with your day job being to start conversations, then telling everybody to STFU. If it takes you a little time to get around to explaining it I’ll understand.

    Could you show me where this happened?

  138. 138
    John Cole says:

    BTW- the only thing number I can find for Krugman discussing the size is from November when he wanted a 600 billion stimulus package. Things are dramatically worse than they were when he wrote that, and I could have sworn I saw him say it needed to be a trillion and a half or around that. Am I imagining things?

  139. 139
    TheHatOnMyCat says:

    anyone who thinks that a stimulus bill the size of what Krugman thinks needs to be passed would have had any chance getting through both houses of Congress

    You are correct. In fact, when the history of this is written, I would be surprised if we did not learn that the bill was constructed around a dollar total that represented political viability at this point in time.

    And, there may have to be another one of these before its over. And we still have the banking/credit fire drill to go through again. And the Auto Bailout Redux drill to go through.

    It’s going to be an interesting year.

    Meanwhile, Krugman cranks out the columns as if nothing else is going on in the world and we have unlimited political capital and also real capital to do whatever he wants to do. He’s becoming part of the problem and not part of the solution.

  140. 140
    Stuck says:

    @John Cole:

    Maybe he read the "Assholes" punctuation a few threads back and took it the wrong way. Though, of course, it’s a whole other subject.

  141. 141
    Elie says:

    Battochio # 124 –

    I am reminded of a clinical situation — abdominal trauma where someone’s intestines have been pulled out of the abdomen — lots of damage, lots of dirt and crap everywhere.

    In the OR — the team cleans things up best they can. This usually involves literally the nasty inspection process of going through 20 -30 feet of intestine looking for holes to plug. Takes a while to do that and you sometimes miss some. You wash off the guts with antibiotic washes, pour tons of antibiotics into the patient, along with other resuscitative fluids (blood, electrolytes) and other medications to support their circulation, etc.

    After you clean up the best you can, you have removed some of the most diseased intestines or other organs, patched what you can of the vessels, but now you have all these inflammed, swollen intestines that just will not (indeed should not) be jammed back in and sewn up. Instead, you put a little protection around them and over the next days and weeks, as they heal, as other bad spots are removed, slowly get to the point that you can reintroduce them into the abdomen. Even after they are mostly back in, the patient can’t really use them to digest anything until they function right — and that takes another period of time.

    My point is this: Bad, bigtime fixes are uncertain in their nature and the fix is always a number of small, related activities with continual assessment, reassessment and evaluation of what is happening. Yes, the surgeon knows that he/she has to keep the patient and the structures alive and that one day, the injured bowel will go back into the cavity, but she/he cannot tell you exactly when and what is going to have to happen to the bowel or the patient before that day comes.

    Team Obama has gotten the patient out of the OR, but there is still a lot of stuff that has to make itself manifest and each of those little mini-crises must be addressed while supporting the overall patient and not letting anything else fall apart.

    Anyone who has had this sort of major abdominal or other traumatic catastrophe takes each day as it comes and as a victory. The surgical team is confident but not cocky. They always know that there are always surprises and luck also plays a not minor role…

    I hope that luck is on our side…

  142. 142
    The Raven says:

    John, you’re focusing on the first third of the piece, and it’s giving you a distorted view. Breakdown is:

    Premise 1: the stimulus is too small
    Premise 2: the Geithner plan probably isn’t what’s needed
    Conclusion 1: we’re "kicking the can down the street"
    Conclusion 2: the USA isn’t rising to challenge
    Conclusion 3: Obama needs to push harder

    I don’t think I agree with conclusion 3, for exactly the reasons you don’t. But the situation is desperate. What would you suggest?

  143. 143
    Rome Again says:

    Engage in wildly inappropriate sexual banter.

    I have never done this. What I do is NOT sexual. You want sexual? I’ll show you sexual. Don’t MAKE me go there.

    ;)

  144. 144
    Rome Again says:

    At any rate, anyone who thinks that a stimulus bill the size of what Krugman thinks needs to be passed would have had any chance getting through both houses of Congress is just smoking rocks.

    Agreed, but when the House Republicans all vote NO twice and then say WE are the ones being partisan, I call bullshit.

    Can’t we just shoot them and get it over with? After all, they admitted they are insurgents, they are a danger to our country.

  145. 145
    Mike D. says:

    Spent the last two nights among college seniors.

    "Got a band-aid, my ass is bleeding? Summa cum laude in accounting coming up here. Do you know what it costs to get an enbalmer’s paperwork? Forget the extra time, like I believe in Santa Clause, like I’m employable with a four-year degree. Do you? Yeah, so I can titty dance five nights a week ’til I’m flush again, then back to school. No more teacher’s dirty looks, am I right? No, Mom, I’m down to three grad schools and I can’t choose, I’m still deciding. I am SO SICK of kicking off every weekend with fishnets and butt floss."

    "Well that was a waste of fucking time and effort. I could have been getting laid. ‘Puff the Magic Bootlip’ should bother me a hell of a lot more, but this isn’t the Super Bowl, rah rah team. What we got, more of the fucking same. Literally. Screw ‘Dead or Canadian’ cause we have ‘Clinton or Greenspan.’ Ollie North shows up in the NSC again on account of he has relevant experience, I’m blowing shit up. I can’t even tell if it’s good that O-dog beat Cackles in the primaries anymore. What’s the difference, except Bubba’s dumb ass on TV every night?"

    "Fucking Dad, man, fucking ‘yeah, blow some more smoke up my ass, I’m young and idealistic,’ I hate the shit out of my Dad being right."

    "Best part of the whole four years was saving macro for last, because it’s crap anyway, but the instructor shows up every day beet fucking red. What the fuck is she going to tell us? Oh yeah, study your textbooks, whatever. Except she’s still pissed at us and playing it serious and straight, so when her guestworker mainland Chinese ass gets yanked out of bed at two in the morning, I’ll try not to bust out laughing. Criticism of American consumer economy twice an hour. Whore has a death wish."

  146. 146
    Batocchio says:

    Elie @ 141: Thanks for an evocative metaphor!

    I’m sympathetic to the Obama team on this one, and glad they got it done. I never expected it to be perfect. Obama’s already admitted to some mistakes on the negotiation front, and I hope his team does learn from that, and we all get a little lucky as well. A stronger grassroots movement to "change political realities" will help.

    Fixing the problems is hard enough without most of the GOP (other than the governors) working to make things worse. Currently, even if Obama’s the surgeon, doing the best he can, Jim DeMint and the gang are running into that healing patient’s room and yanking his guts out all over again.

  147. 147
    The Raven says:

    John Cole, #138:

    the only thing number I can find for Krugman discussing the size is from November when he wanted a 600 billion stimulus package. Things are dramatically worse than they were when he wrote that, and I could have sworn I saw him say it needed to be a trillion and a half or around that. Am I imagining things?

    Your memory is correct. Here’s the links to employment and dollar figures.

    My first cut says that the changes to the Senate bill will ensure that we have at least 600,000 fewer Americans employed over the next two years.–Krugman, "What the Centrists Have Wrought"

    Remember, that’s just the cuts from a bill that was too small to begin with. The total difference in jobs between doing enough and not doing enough has to be in the millions.

    Here’s Krugman on the amount of the stimulus:

    what’s coming out of the current deliberations is really, really inadequate. I’ve gone through the CBO numbers a bit more carefully; they’re projecting a $2.9 trillion shortfall over the next three years. There’s just no way $780 billion, much of it used unproductively, will do the job."–Krugman, "Happy Stan"

    Extra bonus snark, on the banking plan:

    Question: what happens if you lose vast amounts of other people’s money? Answer: you get a big gift from the federal government — but the president says some very harsh things about you before forking over the cash.–Krugman, "Bailouts for Bunglers"

    Krawk!

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