A New Week, A New Economic Plan to Sell
By Ben Pershing
It's the start of a new week, and that means it's time for the Obama administration to unveil yet another sweeping, ambitious plan to fix the economy. In this case, it's the White House's blueprint for creating a public-private partnership to buy troubled assets from banks, thereby clearing their books and -- hopefully -- setting them and the larger financial system on the path back to recovery.
Tim Geithner, who still has the "confidence" of President Obama, lays out the details of the plan in an op-ed and an interview in this morning's Wall Street Journal. He will explain more this morning at a pen-and-pad press briefing, a format that often is used when the briefer is worried about being caught saying something stupid or controversial on camera.(A free piece of semantic advice: Be sure to call them "troubled" rather than "toxic" assets. Who wants to buy something that's toxic? Calling them troubled makes them sound salvageable, like the patients on a rehab reality show or a teenager in an after-school special.)
How the Obama administration fares during this continued crisis seems dependent on two factors -- how much the public actually understands about the White House's latest plans, and how much more the public will tolerate. How will average voters decide what they think of the latest plan, which is exceedingly complicated and involves both significant public risk and the chance of lucrative private gain? Paul Krugman, for his part, is filled with "despair" at the idea. Fellow economist Brad DeLong is much more positive. The former has a much larger readership than the latter, but the jury is still out on which narrative will take hold with the public.
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