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.
*** 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.