A Few Thoughts on Stimulus
Daniel Gross says "it's too soon to say whether the stimulus package is working." Actually, he says something a bit different than that, but that's the subhead on his column. Over the weekend, Joe Biden said that "the truth is, we and everybody else ... misread just how bad the economy was." So do we need a second stimulus? "I think it's premature to make that judgment," Biden replied.
You're hearing this argument a lot lately. We need to wait to see if the stimulus is "working." We need to watch the economy get worse before we can put in place a plan that will make it better 12 months from the date of passage. (This is different, I should say, from the argument made by those who don't think stimulus plans work at all.) Forgive me for cadging this post from yesterday's chat, but the stimulus could "work" and we'd still need another.
Imagine I'm at the market and I'm predicting how hungry I'll be later tonight. I figure I'll have a big lunch, so I buy a modest dinner. I get busy, though. I don't eat a big lunch. I eat my modest dinner. I'm still hungry.
Did my dinner "not work"? No. My level of hunger changed. And that's what looks to have happened here: The stimulus was built for lower unemployment expectations. We can assume the stimulus will work in blunting some of the impact, but also predict, quite confidently, that it will not be fully up to the task. The question is whether we should go back to the store for more dinner materials after our light lunch, knowing we'll need it later? Or wait and hope that our small dinner is enough, knowing the stores might be closed and we won't be able to get anything?
Also: Could there possibly be a more Slate-esque headline than "Both Obama and his critics are wrong about his stimulus package?"
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