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Posted at 12:37 PM ET, 01/31/2011

Dems adopting aggressive posture in fight over government spending

By Greg Sargent

Don't look now, but there are increasing signs that Democrats are adopting a surprisingly aggressive and unapologetic posture in the looming political battle with Republicans over government spending. Rather than running from the issue -- which has obvious perils for Dems, given that Republicans are trying to tar them as Big Government liberals -- they are treating this as an argument that can be turned to their advantage, if it's framed in the right way.

The latest sign of this is the new DCCC radio ad that is targeting multiple House Republicans in targeted districts. The ad attacks Republicans for supporting plans to "cut education" and "cut science and technology research," defending the latter as the way "we get the new products that create new jobs."

Crucially, the ad cites specific programs that Republicans would target, and frames the cuts as threats to job creation, an effort to cast Dems as defenders of popular programs and to undercut the GOP case that government spending is inevitably a "job killer."

This ad comes after Obama's State of the Union speech, which aggressively doubled down on the role that robust "government investment," a.k.a. government spending, should play in securing the country's future. Indeed, as Obama senior adviser David Axelrod has explicitly spelled out, Obama and Dems are betting that as Republicans detail specific draconian cuts they support, the public -- despite its allegedly anti-government bent -- will come to prefer the balance Obama and Dems are striking between fiscal discipline and targeted government investment.

A Democratic strategist familiar with ongoing discussions says Dems have been encouraged by recent polling on these questions. While polls undoubtedly show that the public supports reducing government spending in general, Gallup recently found that sizable majorities oppose cuts to education, funding for the arts and sciences, Social Security and Medicare.

To be sure, we still don't know what Obama will do on Social Security. And it's true that he has also embraced freezes on government spending and on the wages of federal workers, lending some rhetorical aid and comfort to the conservative anti-government narrative. But as even some conservatives have argued, Obama's gesture in this direction is perhaps better understood as a way to clear space for an aggressive endorsement of a robust role for the federal government in boosting the economy and charting the country's future.

There's always time for Dems to play to type, decide this is a political loser, and run from the showdown over spending. But for now, at least, Dems appear to be treating this as an argument they can win.

By Greg Sargent  | January 31, 2011; 12:37 PM ET
Categories:  House Dems, House GOPers  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Nonstop idiocy about Obama and `American exceptionalism'
Next: Do Americans really hate government?

Comments

I thought that Greg was not going to use the words "fight", "battle", "targeting" and "showdown"? Maybe that was just CNN.

Posted by: clawrence12 | January 31, 2011 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Paul Krugman, one year ago:

"Last week, the Center for American Progress, a think tank with close ties to the Obama administration, published an acerbic essay about the difference between true deficit hawks and showy “deficit peacocks.” You can identify deficit peacocks, readers were told, by the way they pretend that our budget problems can be solved with gimmicks like a temporary freeze in nondefense discretionary spending.

One week later, in the State of the Union address, President Obama proposed a temporary freeze in nondefense discretionary spending.

Wait, it gets worse. To justify the freeze, Mr. Obama used language that was almost identical to widely ridiculed remarks early last year by John Boehner, the House minority leader. Boehner then: “American families are tightening their belt, but they don’t see government tightening its belt.” Obama now: “Families across the country are tightening their belts and making tough decisions. The federal government should do the same.”"

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/29/opinion/29krugman.html

Good luck with the new messaging attempts. With a yearly deficits of $1 trillion+ since the last year of the Bush administration I doubt the argument that the government isn't spending enough will gain much traction.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_budget_deficit

Posted by: jnc4p | January 31, 2011 12:52 PM | Report abuse

They are already "targeting" with Periello's political annihilation attempt on Hurt to soften and bloody him up a little before the real election gets going and then the final extermination of Hurt occurs, right clawrence12?

Posted by: mikefromArlington | January 31, 2011 12:55 PM | Report abuse

The problem with this strategy, of course, is that the Dems have been in charge of increased and aggressive govt spending for four years now and... where are the jobs?

Posted by: sbj3 | January 31, 2011 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Meanwhile, the GOP is going to message the public that they don't count...until China and other foreign creditors are paid.

Someone else linked to this earlier, but it bears repeating.
--------------

'Pay China First' -- Republicans' Wild Plan To Avoid U.S. Debt Default

New Republican legislation in the House and Senate would force the U.S. government to reroute huge amounts of money to China and other creditors in the event that Congress fails to raise its debt ceiling.

"I intend to introduce legislation that would require the Treasury to make interest payments on our debt its first priority in the event that the debt ceiling is not raised," Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) wrote in a Friday Wall Street Journal op-ed.

If passed, Toomey's plan would require the government to cut large checks to foreign countries, and major financial institutions, before paying off its obligations to Social Security beneficiaries and other citizens owed money by the Treasury -- that is, if the U.S. hits its debt ceiling. Republican leaders insist they will raise the country's debt limit before this happens. But first, they're going to try to force Democrats to accept large spending cuts, using their control over the debt limit as leverage. That means gridlock, and the threat that they'll come up short.

....

"[T]his idea is unworkable," said Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin in a statement. "It would not actually prevent default, since it would seek to protect only principal and interest payments, and not other legal obligations of the U.S., from non-payment. Adopting a policy that payments to investors should take precedence over other U.S. legal obligations would merely be default by another name, since the world would recognize it as a failure by the U.S. to stand behind its commitments."

...

The top Democrats on the House and Senate Budget Committees call it a jaw-droppingly bad idea.

"I think it is a dreadful idea," Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) told National Journal. "Basically what they are saying is, pay China first. Are we going to forget about the American public and the things that they need? Somehow they are secondary? And paying the Chinese and the Japanese is the first priority of this country? I don't even know how to describe that idea; it's just a very, very bad one."

His House Democratic counterpart, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), added "What they are saying essentially is that the full faith and credit of the American government extends to a lot of foreign countries, but it doesn't extend to the American people themselves."

http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/01/pay-china-first----republicans-wild-plan-to-avoid-us-debt-default.php?ref=fpblg

Posted by: suekzoo1 | January 31, 2011 1:02 PM | Report abuse

"where are the jobs?"

More private sector jobs have been created just this year than during the entire eight years of the Bush administration.

...just sayin'.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | January 31, 2011 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Also, there is no evidence that the Democrats are striking a balance "between fiscal discipline and targeted government investment." They are simply betting that when push comes to shove the American people care less about the deficit and debt than they do about the specific cuts that would be necessary to address the issue. And they are probably right. The flip side is that Americans are no more willing to raise taxes to address the deficit than they are to cut spending.

If Obama was serious about the deficit and debt, then he should have pushed for a vote on the deficit commission recommendations in the State of the Union. Since he isn't serious, he shouldn't have bothered with the commission in the first place.

Posted by: jnc4p | January 31, 2011 1:04 PM | Report abuse

I think the most notable part of this story is how early the Dems are making this arguement, as well as how they are actually making a "framing" argument rather than playing on the field that the GOP and Media lay out for them.

Hopefully doing so will yield enough positive results for them to build some confidence in that strategy.

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | January 31, 2011 1:04 PM | Report abuse

"More private sector jobs have been created just this year than during the entire eight years of the Bush administration."

And the out of work and those being foreclosed upon care about this ... why?

Posted by: sbj3 | January 31, 2011 1:05 PM | Report abuse

OT, but if you are following the developments in Egypt....

"Israel shocked by Obama's "betrayal" of Mubarak"

(Reuters) - If Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak is toppled, Israel will lose one of its very few friends in a hostile neighborhood and President Barack Obama will bear a large share of the blame, Israeli pundits said on Monday.

Political commentators expressed shock at how the United States as well as its major European allies appeared to be ready to dump a staunch strategic ally of three decades, simply to conform to the current ideology of political correctness.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told ministers of the Jewish state to make no comment on the political cliffhanger in Cairo, to avoid inflaming an already explosive situation. But Israel's President Shimon Peres is not a minister.

"We always have had and still have great respect for President Mubarak," he said on Monday. He then switched to the past tense. "I don't say everything that he did was right, but he did one thing which all of us are thankful to him for: he kept the peace in the Middle East."

Newspaper columnists were far more blunt.

One comment by Aviad Pohoryles in the daily Maariv was entitled "A Bullet in the Back from Uncle Sam." It accused Obama and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of pursuing a naive, smug, and insular diplomacy heedless of the risks.

Who is advising them, he asked, "to fuel the mob raging in the streets of Egypt and to demand the head of the person who five minutes ago was the bold ally of the president ... an almost lone voice of sanity in a Middle East?"

"The politically correct diplomacy of American presidents throughout the generations ... is painfully naive."

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/01/31/us-egypt-israel-usa-idUSTRE70U53720110131?WT.tsrc=Social%20Media&WT.z_smid=twtr-reuters_%20com&WT.z_smid_dest=Twitter

Posted by: suekzoo1 | January 31, 2011 1:08 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if the Democrats are hoping that Paul will save them this time even though he failed them last time.

Who is Paul?

Any government that robs Peter to pay Paul will NEVER get an argument from Paul.

So the Democrat strategy must be to energize the tax recievers via the use of hysteria. Teachers, government bureaucrats and welfare reciepients will lead the Democrats back to power, or so they hope.

It will be fun to watch the Democrats once again engage its big lie machinery as they seek to convince folks that the Republicans want them to live on dog food and die quickly. It won't work, but they really don't know what the heck else to do because it has always worked before. this should be quite entertaining.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | January 31, 2011 1:09 PM | Report abuse

"And the out of work and those being foreclosed upon care about this ... why?"

You're right. Turn to your Republican colleagues who wanted a much smaller stimulus. Millions more could have been saved had it not been for your type.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | January 31, 2011 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Skip in one breath speaks of teachers and welfare recipients in a bad light then claims Republicans don't consider them dogs.

Funny if it wasn't so sad.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | January 31, 2011 1:12 PM | Report abuse

"I intend to introduce legislation that would require the Treasury to make interest payments on our debt its first priority in the event that the debt ceiling is not raised," Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) wrote in a Friday Wall Street Journal op-ed.

If passed, Toomey's plan would require the government to cut large checks to foreign countries, and major financial institutions, before paying off its obligations to Social Security beneficiaries and other citizens owed money by the Treasury
--------------------------------------------------------
What an idiot. First, Toomey seems to think that paying some creditors and not others is the definition of avoiding default. Wrong.

Second, forget China--just concentrate on "paying major financial institutions". Wait--doesn't that sound familiar?

Third, stiff Social Security recipients--now that's a campaign winning slogan: Pay Goldman Sachs and let grandpa pass. Good for funeral homes, I guess.

What an idiot.

Posted by: 12BarBluesAgain | January 31, 2011 1:14 PM | Report abuse

"You're right. Turn to your Republican colleagues who wanted a much smaller stimulus. Millions more could have been saved had it not been for your type."

There is no proof whatsoever that a larger stimulus would have been any more successful.

Posted by: sbj3 | January 31, 2011 1:19 PM | Report abuse

skip writes: It will be fun to watch the Democrats once again engage its big lie machinery as they seek to convince folks that the Republicans want them to live on dog food and die quickly.
--------------------------------------------------------
Pay Goldman Sachs and let Grandpa pass!

Who said anything about dog food?

Posted by: 12BarBluesAgain | January 31, 2011 1:19 PM | Report abuse

12BarBluesAgain, individuals such as Toomey live in a corporate multinational world where lower standards of global labor markets and international investment are more profitable thus must be more American.

Somewhere along the line, these people forgot about or labor forces. To them, the American worker is lazy and too expensive. What's important to them is what gets them campaign donations.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | January 31, 2011 1:19 PM | Report abuse

@mikefromArlington ""And the out of work and those being foreclosed upon care about this ... why?"

You're right. Turn to your Republican colleagues who wanted a much smaller stimulus. Millions more could have been saved had it not been for your type."

President Obama got the stimulus he asked for. With the Presidency and both Houses of Congress controlled by the largest Democratic majority in a generation, blaming Republicans for the stimulus that passed with virtually no Republican support won't fly.

Your real beef should be with Obama's economic team for using a flawed model for the projections and/or compromising to cut a deal with Congressional Democrats.

Posted by: jnc4p | January 31, 2011 1:20 PM | Report abuse

jnc4p, the stimulus size was crafted before:

A) He was President.

B) Economists realized how bad the labor market was going to get.

When the original stimulus size was crafted, nobody had any clue we would be losing 750,000 jobs a month come January.

Krugman and others began to sound the warning bells around January that the stimulus was too small. Of course by this time the wheels were turning in Congress. Remember, the size was reduced by $100k also by Collins and Snowe to sign onto it.

And yes sbj, any economist could tell you that more state assistance and further targeted infrastructure spending would have cut into the unemployment numbers even further.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | January 31, 2011 1:26 PM | Report abuse

"blaming Republicans for the stimulus that passed with virtually no Republican support won't fly."

Needing 60 votes to just get debate means you can blame those preventing debate...Republicans.

That's how it works.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | January 31, 2011 1:29 PM | Report abuse

@mikefromArlington "jnc4p, the stimulus size was crafted before:

A) He was President.

B) Economists realized how bad the labor market was going to get.

When the original stimulus size was crafted, nobody had any clue we would be losing 750,000 jobs a month come January.

Krugman and others began to sound the warning bells around January that the stimulus was too small. Of course by this time the wheels were turning in Congress. Remember, the size was reduced by $100k also by Collins and Snowe to sign onto it.

And yes sbj, any economist could tell you that more state assistance and further targeted infrastructure spending would have cut into the unemployment numbers even further."

I return to my original point:

President Obama got the stimulus he asked for.

If he thought it was too small, he should have asked for a larger package originally or gone back for a second stimulus as Paul Krugman advocated. He did neither. Instead, the administration steadfastly maintained that the stimulus was the correct size to begin with and that by 2010, we would see the "Summer of Recovery".

He and the Democrats in Congress are responsible for the success or lack thereof of their policies during the period when they had control of both Houses of Congress and the Presidency.

Posted by: jnc4p | January 31, 2011 1:30 PM | Report abuse

@mikefromArlington ""blaming Republicans for the stimulus that passed with virtually no Republican support won't fly."

Needing 60 votes to just get debate means you can blame those preventing debate...Republicans.

That's how it works"

At the time of the stimulus, I believe they had the 60 when Arlen Spector switched sides and before Kennedy died. Do you believe that if the roles were reversed and the Republicans had similarly sized majorities that they would have any problems getting their agenda enacted?

Regardless, the point is moot because they got what they asked for. The stimulus bill was not filibustered.

Posted by: jnc4p | January 31, 2011 1:34 PM | Report abuse

"A) He was President."

And he had a Senate with 59 Democrats when the stimulus was passed. He had to cut a deal with the NE moderates to get passed cloture. That's just a fact that you want to ignore. Ain't workin...

Posted by: suekzoo1 | January 31, 2011 1:35 PM | Report abuse

"If he thought it was too small, he should have asked for a larger package originally or gone back for a second stimulus as Paul Krugman advocated. He did neither."

Yes but of course. I should have though of that first!

He should have worn his cape and flown around Congress with his magic wand and just wished a larger stimulus upon us!

And, there were numerous stimlus' passed.

Small business lending, the recent tax deals, extending unemployment benefits etc. I'd say at least another trillion in stimulus on top of the stimulus first passed. Sure, some might have been the least effective forms of stimulus but when you say "He did neither," that's just not true.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | January 31, 2011 1:36 PM | Report abuse

The problem with this strategy, of course, is that the Dems have been in charge of increased and aggressive govt spending for four years now and... where are the jobs?

Posted by: sbj3 | January 31, 2011 12:56 PM

Four years? No wonder you are a member of the vodoo economics class. You can not even count from 2009 to 2011.

Posted by: Liam-still | January 31, 2011 1:37 PM | Report abuse

"And he had a Senate with 59 Democrats when the stimulus was passed."

He had less tbh.

Minnesota had no Senator. I think there might have been 58 or so at the time that caucused with the Dems.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | January 31, 2011 1:39 PM | Report abuse

@suekzoo1 ""A) He was President."

And he had a Senate with 59 Democrats when the stimulus was passed. He had to cut a deal with the NE moderates to get passed cloture. That's just a fact that you want to ignore. Ain't workin..."

So your argument is that President Obama isn't responsible for the success or failure of a policy that he advocated and got enacted into law?

Presumably if the Health Care law fails to increase coverage and reduce the deficit that will be the Republicans fault as well.

Posted by: jnc4p | January 31, 2011 1:39 PM | Report abuse

And what is the new GOP majority in the House doing to promote employment?

1. Trying to repeal the deficit reducing, job creating HCR law

2. Trying to redefine rape

3. Trying to cause global economic chaos

Can't wait to see their next bright idea.

Posted by: pragmaticagain | January 31, 2011 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Can't wait to see their next bright idea.
--------------------------------------------

Re-enactment of the Scopes Monkey Trial

Posted by: 12BarBluesAgain | January 31, 2011 1:44 PM | Report abuse

"So your argument is that President Obama isn't responsible for the success or failure of a policy that he advocated and got enacted into law?

Presumably if the Health Care law fails to increase coverage and reduce the deficit that will be the Republicans fault as well. "

The only way the GOP gets a complete pass is if there are none of them sitting as elected members in Congress. They have a responsibility to help govern, whether they are in the majority or the minority.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | January 31, 2011 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Ask the Brits how "conservative" spending cuts are working out for them.

Posted by: pragmaticagain | January 31, 2011 1:46 PM | Report abuse

@mikefromArlington ""If he thought it was too small, he should have asked for a larger package originally or gone back for a second stimulus as Paul Krugman advocated. He did neither."

Yes but of course. I should have though of that first!

He should have worn his cape and flown around Congress with his magic wand and just wished a larger stimulus upon us!

And, there were numerous stimlus' passed.

Small business lending, the recent tax deals, extending unemployment benefits etc. I'd say at least another trillion in stimulus on top of the stimulus first passed. Sure, some might have been the least effective forms of stimulus but when you say "He did neither," that's just not true"

I haven't seen any public comments from the Obama administration where they have conceded that Paul Krugman's (& Joseph Joseph Stiglitz) critique is correct, namely that they went too small to begin with. The closest are some comments that Christine Romer made after leaving the administration.

If you know of any, please cite them.

I find Paul Krugman's take from November 2009 more accurate:

"Administration officials would presumably argue that they were constrained by political realities, that a bolder policy couldn’t have passed Congress. But they never tested that assumption, and they also never gave any public indication that they were doing less than they wanted. The official line was that policy was just right, making it hard to explain now why more is needed."

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/06/opinion/06krugman.html

The bottom line is that Democrats are accountable for the policies they put forward and enact into law. Blaming the Republicans for Obama's policies is like blaming the Democrats for G.W. Bush's Iraq policies.

Posted by: jnc4p | January 31, 2011 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Don't look now, but Syrians are using FB to organize demonstrations on Friday.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | January 31, 2011 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Comment of the Year:

"So your argument is that President Obama isn't responsible for the success or failure of a policy that he advocated and got enacted into law?

"Presumably if the Health Care law fails to increase coverage and reduce the deficit that will be the Republicans fault as well."

Posted by: sbj3 | January 31, 2011 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Actually no, Obama didn't get the stimulus package he wanted. Far too much of it (40%) was directed at non-stimulative tax cuts, and the overall size was reduced to keep it under some magic number the Queens of Maine decided it should be less than.

Had he gotten the stimulus package he initially proposed, it would have done more to actually, you know, stimulate job creation.

But still yet - yes, the unemployment rate is still WAY too high, but there has been modest growth in every quarter for what - the past year? 5 quarters? 6? I don't recall at the moment, but in any case it stacks up well against the performance of Britain's austerity measures put in place around the same time. Their economy is shrinking.

Thus, that dastardly pointy-headed Nobel laureate poopyhead Krugman spoils the party by once again predicting accurately the effects of stimulus spending vs. austerity measures in a down economy.

Posted by: JennOfArk | January 31, 2011 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Jenn: "it stacks up well against the performance of Britain's austerity measures put in place around the same time. Their economy is shrinking."

But, but, but...it snowed in England!! Yeah, that's it.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | January 31, 2011 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Actually, Jenn, the British austerity measures were just enacted since Cameron was elected, which is fairly recent.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | January 31, 2011 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Here's proof that there are folks who walk amojng us in dire need of remedial reading lessons:
==========
Funny if it wasn't so sad.

======================

Whre did I say they were "bad"? Aren't these folks your core constituency? Of course they are. They are Pauls for whom folks like you demand that Peter be robbed.

You may not like the fact that this is fundamental mechanism of liberalism but that's just too bad for you. Its the truth. Liberals simply adore the idea of confiscating money from some people (especially people they don't like, such as the "rich") and giving it to people they do like. so the only way to stay in power is to insure that the Paul actively supports the ongoing larceny. If the Pauls won't come out to vote, what then?

Posted by: skipsailing28 | January 31, 2011 2:01 PM | Report abuse

When the great depression was first getting started, President Hoover, did what today's Republicans are clamoring for. Check out how that worked out.

Republicans are always calling for doing the same stupid things over and over, and expecting different results.

Posted by: Liam-still | January 31, 2011 2:02 PM | Report abuse

@JennOfArk "Actually no, Obama didn't get the stimulus package he wanted. Far too much of it (40%) was directed at non-stimulative tax cuts, and the overall size was reduced to keep it under some magic number the Queens of Maine decided it should be less than."

It was actually Larry Summers who decided on the size:

"Aides tell the story to underscore the gravity of the situation Obama faced. “That was a formative event,” recalled David Axelrod, the president’s senior adviser. “The briefing was brutal,” said Austan Goolsbee, one of Obama’s economic advisers. Obama was warned the country was in far worse shape than anyone realized. “This was not your father’s or my father’s recession,” Rahm Emanuel, the former White House chief of staff, told me this month from Chicago, where he is running for mayor. “This was our grandfather’s Depression.”

This was all new to Obama, who, unlike Bush or Clinton, had never managed even a state economy. Now he was responsible for a nation in which everyone from homeowners to Wall Street tycoons had so overextended themselves that the system was coming apart. Obama’s theory of the case was that the country was trapped in a bubble-and-bust cycle, cascading from one artificial, unsustainable boom to the next. He wanted to not just apply a short-term patch but also to erect a more durable system with a stronger set of rules.

Obama’s instinct was to take on everything at once. “I want to pull the band-aid off quickly, not delay the pain,” a senior Obama official remembers him saying. “He didn’t want to muddle through it, Japan-style,” recalled Larry Summers, tapped to be director of Obama’s National Economic Council. Romer calculated how much government spending would be needed to fill the gaping hole of consumer demand and came up with $1.2 trillion, the highest of three options. Summers told her to leave that number out of the memorandum to Obama. Emanuel argued that such an astronomical figure would be politically explosive. Romer left it out but mentioned it to Obama during a briefing. “That’s what you’d need to do to definitively heal the economy,” she said, according to someone in the room. Still, she and Summers agreed on recommending close to $900 billion."

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/23/magazine/23Economy-t.html?pagewanted=2

Posted by: jnc4p | January 31, 2011 2:04 PM | Report abuse

All, some more stuff along these lines from Brendan Nynan. Great stuff:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2011/01/do_americans_really_hate_gover.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | January 31, 2011 2:12 PM | Report abuse

"When the great depression was first getting started, President Hoover, did what today's Republicans are clamoring for. Check out how that worked out."

(a) Specifics, please? You should study some actual history of the GD rather than relying on urban legends.

(b) This isn't 1929 or 32. We already have a massive, central government welfare state with many trillions in debt and unfunded and unfundable liabilities. Obama is already outspending all previous presidents by a large margin.

Posted by: quarterback1 | January 31, 2011 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Yep ... stimulus shoulda been bigger. Summers was wrong. Sure wish the GOP had been in charge, I'm sure they woulda done much better.

Posted by: pragmaticagain | January 31, 2011 2:13 PM | Report abuse

So let me get this straight;

Republicans insisted on having the US government borrow another 700 Billion to extend the Bush Tax Cuts for Fat Cats, but now say that borrowing to fund large deficits is absolutely the wrong way to go.

Talk about Cognitive Dissonance. The Republicans are now campaigning against what they just insisted on enacting.

Posted by: Liam-still | January 31, 2011 2:14 PM | Report abuse

jnc4p - thanks for the excerpt. Krugman was saying even then it wasn't large enough - but of course then it got cut some more, and that was after a large portion of it was directed at tax cuts to try to gain Republican support (which of course failed). In any case, the 1.2 trillion needed actually ended up as about 475 billion in non-tax-cut stimulus spending.

Posted by: JennOfArk | January 31, 2011 2:15 PM | Report abuse

"Had he gotten the stimulus package he initially proposed, it would have done more to actually, you know, stimulate job creation."

. . . because liberals assert it to be so, despite any evidence of any sort. Stimulus "job creation" is purely an assumption, did you know that?

The economy actually did much worse than O and crew predicted as the worst case scenario if there had been NO "stimulus." From which rational people should infer that more of a bad thing would have been even worse, not better.

But I digress. Let me supply the all-purpose excse: Bush's fault!

Posted by: quarterback1 | January 31, 2011 2:17 PM | Report abuse

"Thus, that dastardly pointy-headed Nobel laureate poopyhead Krugman spoils the party by once again predicting accurately . . . ."

Hahahahahaha

His record of predictions over the past decade is downright farcical. Once in a while he finds an acorn, but his academic work seems to have little to do with his public hackery.

Posted by: quarterback1 | January 31, 2011 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Mubarak's last scene may be imminent:

"Reuters has more from the Egyptian army:

"The presence of the army in the streets is for your sake and to ensure your safety and wellbeing. The armed forces will not resort to use of force against our great people," the army statement said.

"Your armed forces, who are aware of the legitimacy of your demands and are keen to assume their responsibility in protecting the nation and the citizens, affirms that freedom of expression through peaceful means is guaranteed to everybody."

It urged people not resort to acts of sabotage that violate security and destroy public and private property. It warned that it would not allow outlaws and to loot, attack and "terrorise citizens".

Posted by: suekzoo1 | January 31, 2011 2:21 PM | Report abuse

"From which rational people should infer that more of a bad thing would have been even worse, not better."

I guess most economists are not "rational people" then, because according to them, the stimulus saved over a million jobs and kept us from going into a full-blown depression.

I mean, you don't have to be Nobel Prize winner to figure out that if there's a $1.2 trillion-shaped hole in your economy, blowing the hole larger isn't going to fix things.

Posted by: JennOfArk | January 31, 2011 2:23 PM | Report abuse

"where are the jobs?"

They disappeared with the Bush Administration.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jobs_created_during_U.S._presidential_terms

Remember how many jobs were lost in the first 90 days of the Obama Admin. Bush and the R's left a fine mess didn't they. They had six years of W.H. Senate House control and what do we have to show for it.
The worst economic disaster since Hoover.

Posted by: rukidding7 | January 31, 2011 2:23 PM | Report abuse

"Four years? No wonder you are a member of the vodoo economics class. You can not even count from 2009 to 2011."

News bulletin: Pelosi and Reid (and Barney and Maxine) were in charge of the budget etc as of 2007.

I suppose you were asleep.

Posted by: quarterback1 | January 31, 2011 2:25 PM | Report abuse

The historical evidence is very clear. Hoover cut spending and drove unemployment to 25%. FDR enacted massive stimulus spending programs, and stopped the meltdown, just like Obama's stimulus stopped the Bush economic and job loss meltdown.

Posted by: Liam-still | January 31, 2011 2:27 PM | Report abuse

"the stimulus saved over a million jobs"

@QB - This one will never die, will it?

There is zero evidence for the claim that more jobs would have been lost without the stimulus package.

Posted by: sbj3 | January 31, 2011 2:30 PM | Report abuse

@quarterback1 ""Had he gotten the stimulus package he initially proposed, it would have done more to actually, you know, stimulate job creation."

. . . because liberals assert it to be so, despite any evidence of any sort. Stimulus "job creation" is purely an assumption, did you know that? "

There's a better argument against this. President Obama did in fact get the stimulus package he originally proposed, based on the consensus position of his economic team.

"Still, she and Summers agreed on recommending close to $900 billion."

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/23/magazine/23Economy-t.html?pagewanted=2

No one forced President Obama to put out a chart predicting what the unemployment rate would be if the stimulus passed. That was his decision. The root of the problem is that the administration actually believed that they had a sophisticated enough model of the economy that they could accurately predict what the unemployment rate would be at a given level of government spending. This has proven not to be the case.

Everyone should read the New York Times piece in full. It's very insightful.

Posted by: jnc4p | January 31, 2011 2:33 PM | Report abuse

"Four years? No wonder you are a member of the vodoo economics class. You can not even count from 2009 to 2011."

News bulletin: Pelosi and Reid (and Barney and Maxine) were in charge of the budget etc as of 2007.

I suppose you were asleep.

Posted by: quarterback1 | January 31, 2011 2:25 PM
................

New flash for you Toon Town Lawyer:

Republicans were in charge of both The US Senate and The White House, through 2008, so the Republican Senate approved of the final spending figures, and George W. Bush approved of it, by signing it into law.

I know that you were in the same coma then as you still are.

Posted by: Liam-still | January 31, 2011 2:33 PM | Report abuse

That darned CBO strikes again. As of December 2009 --

The stimulus bill enacted this year has resulted in as many as 1.6 million jobs saved or created this fall, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said Monday evening.

The nonpartisan CBO said in a legally mandated report that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) had resulted in between 600,000 and 1.6 million jobs for the U.S. economy that wouldn't have existed in the absence of the stimulus.

Additionally, the CBO said, gross domestic product (GDP) was as much as 3.2 percent higher than it would have been in the absence of the stimulus.

http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/69923-cbo-stimulus-saved-or-created-as-many-as-16m-jobs

Posted by: pragmaticagain | January 31, 2011 2:35 PM | Report abuse

"There is zero evidence for the claim that more jobs would have been lost without the stimulus package."

There's widespread consensus though, and pure common sense tells you that $1.2 trillion less moving in the economy = fewer jobs. That's the whole basis for deflationary spirals. If I and another 9 out of 100 neighbors lose our jobs, we don't have money to buy anything, go to the drycleaner, go out to dinner, etc. etc. etc. So all those businesses that all 100 of us patronized are going to see their business drop off and if it drops off enough, they start letting people go, and now you have more people who can't spend anything, and the cycle repeats. And it just snowballs.

This isn't rocket science, but it is helpful to put just a little thought into it so you don't fall for stupid platitudes like "how could UNEMPLOYMENT benefits be stimulative to the economy?"

Posted by: JennOfArk | January 31, 2011 2:36 PM | Report abuse

So Sue, do you think that the Egyptian army would relish a war with Israel? This is a pivotal question. If the Muslim Brotherhood fills the vacuum left by Mubarak that's what the Egyptians should expect.

The statements you shared indicate to me that Mubarak is a goner. Essentially the Army said that they won't take orders to fire on the citizens. But will they remain in a position that permits them to have influence on the newly emerged government? I think they will.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | January 31, 2011 2:36 PM | Report abuse

There is overwhelming evidence that the Bush Tax Cuts for the Fattest Cats in the land did not create a single net job, because when Bush left office, not one additional job had been added during his eight year reign of economic terror.

Posted by: Liam-still | January 31, 2011 2:39 PM | Report abuse

@: Liam-still "The historical evidence is very clear. Hoover cut spending and drove unemployment to 25%. FDR enacted massive stimulus spending programs, and stopped the meltdown, just like Obama's stimulus stopped the Bush economic and job loss meltdown."

You are ignoring the role of the Federal Reserve and monetary policy in the Great Depression and the current situation.

"Monetarists, including Milton Friedman and current Federal Reserve System chairman Ben Bernanke, argue that the Great Depression was mainly caused by monetary contraction, the consequence of poor policymaking by the American Federal Reserve System and continued crisis in the banking system. In this view, the Federal Reserve, by not acting, allowed the money supply as measured by the M2 to shrink by one-third from 1929–1933, thereby transforming a normal recession into the Great Depression. Friedman argued that the downward turn in the economy, starting with the stock market crash, would have been just another recession. However, the Federal Reserve allowed some large public bank failures – particularly that of the New York Bank of the United States – which produced panic and widespread runs on local banks, and the Federal Reserve sat idly by while banks collapsed. He claimed that, if the Fed had provided emergency lending to these key banks, or simply bought government bonds on the open market to provide liquidity and increase the quantity of money after the key banks fell, all the rest of the banks would not have fallen after the large ones did, and the money supply would not have fallen as far and as fast as it did. With significantly less money to go around, businessmen could not get new loans and could not even get their old loans renewed, forcing many to stop investing. This interpretation blames the Federal Reserve for inaction, especially the New York branch."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_depression

What stopped the current meltdown wasn't the stimulus bill, but rather TARP and the Federal Reserves monetary policy moves.

Posted by: jnc4p | January 31, 2011 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Spare us all the blather, and excuse making. Hoover drove the economy over the cliff, with his stupid decision to cut spending right at the time the country was going into a steep recession.

If Obama had not stimulated the economy we would have had a second great depression, because the Fat Cats all sat on their money, and refused to invest any of it, to jump start the economy.

Posted by: Liam-still | January 31, 2011 2:48 PM | Report abuse

jnc4p writes
"One week later, in the State of the Union address, President Obama proposed a temporary freeze in nondefense discretionary spending."


You skipped the part where he acknowledged that the spending freeze wouldn't solve the problem. Rather, your source overlooked that part of the speech. If you want the whole story, you might want to consider alternate sources.

.

Posted by: bsimon1 | January 31, 2011 2:50 PM | Report abuse

For the record, since the Tea Party crowd can not remember what happened in the fall of 2008.

It was Bush's man, Henry Paulson, who went up to the hill, and actually got down on his knees, and pleaded for the Wall St. Bail Out TARP funding.

Posted by: Liam-still | January 31, 2011 2:51 PM | Report abuse

No, mikefromArlington, my side didn't take the "No Violent Rhetoric" pledge. Greg Sargent, however, did.

Posted by: clawrence12 | January 31, 2011 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Also, the auto bailouts began while Bush was in office.

In other words, Bush bailed out the unions...and Soros some how!

Posted by: mikefromArlington | January 31, 2011 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Liam-still, the Tea Party is STILL upset about that.

Posted by: clawrence12 | January 31, 2011 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Claw/AKA JakeD

The Tea Party are upset at Obama for Bush having Bailed Out Wall St.

Even Glen Beck did not bother to tell them the truth about who bailed out the Wall St. Robber Barons.

Posted by: Liam-still | January 31, 2011 3:05 PM | Report abuse

@bsimon1 "jnc4p writes
"One week later, in the State of the Union address, President Obama proposed a temporary freeze in nondefense discretionary spending."


You skipped the part where he acknowledged that the spending freeze wouldn't solve the problem. Rather, your source overlooked that part of the speech. If you want the whole story, you might want to consider alternate sources. "

The quote from Professor Krugman is actually in reference to the 2010 State of the Union, one year ago. It's mostly germane to refuting the idea that somehow President Obama and the Democrats are going to change their messaging and thus "win" the debate on government spending. This is unlikely as long as President Obama continues to make quotes about spending that are indistinguishable from those of Speaker John Boehner.

I won't attempt to defend Professor Krugman from the charge of overlooking facts. I simply cited him because I thought he would more likely be accepted as an authoritative source by the majority of Plum Line readers than say Fox News.

Posted by: jnc4p | January 31, 2011 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Reality Check.

Were a lot of Fat Cats doing very well when the Clinton Tax rates were in place?

Answer; Yes there were, and there was also very low unemployment rates. Jobs were being created, without The Bush Tax Cuts For Fat Cats.

If Republicans want to be taken seriously, when they claim to be deficit hawks, they must first explain to The American People why they refused to pay for the funding of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, but instead always passed the funding off budget, without any revenue offsets.

Then they must explain why we had to add trillions to the national debt, just to cut taxes for Fat Cats, who were doing just fine under the Clinton tax levels.

Posted by: Liam-still | January 31, 2011 3:15 PM | Report abuse

2jcn4p

"The flip side is that Americans are no more willing to raise taxes to address the deficit than they are to cut spending."

That is simply not true. There was plenty of support to let the Bush Tax cuts for the wealthy expire. Obama let the R's blackmail him in the lame duck session. As it turns out he probably feels pretty good about that as opinion about the tax cuts for the wealthy is not going to change anytime soon. Dare I say the rich have pushed their luck as far as they can with the American Public. They've enjoyed a capital gains rate that's 10% what the average middle class working stiff pays because this country no longer values labor but prefers wealthy people manipulating money through "investments".
The next time this issue of taxation comes up the mood will only be worse as resentment (justified or not) continues to build and words like "bankster" "lobbyist" become national curse words.

As far as budget balancing...the R's have never been serious players. Clinton balanced with the help of paygo...seems to make sense to a conservative...but not a Conservative. No spending without finding the funding first. Obama brought that up and the R's said it's dead on arrival.
Why do you suppose they did that jcn4p if they were serious about a balanced budget.
Wouldn't that be a logical start...make sure all new legislation is paid for?

Posted by: rukidding7 | January 31, 2011 3:16 PM | Report abuse

No, Liam-still, you are confusing the first TARP (which ended up costing "only" $25 billion) and the rest of Obama's bailouts. I also am not JakeD. Do you want to go 0 for three?

Posted by: clawrence12 | January 31, 2011 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Claw you are JakeD, but I grant that you may not know it, because that is how split personality disorder works.

Read up on some real history, of what the TARP bailout funding that Hank Paulson asked for and received, actually contained, instead of just spreading more of your usual Big Lies.

The Wall St Journal. December 20 2008

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122969743282721629.html

"WASHINGTON -- The U.S. government's rescue of the auto industry drained what remained in the first half of Treasury's $700 billion bailout fund, prompting Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to call on Congress to release the rest of the money.

The move sets off a period of uncertainty for financial markets as the Bush administration and the Obama team scramble to determine how to proceed.
TARP Timeline

How Congress can make more funds available under the TARP legislation:

* The President must submit to Congress a written report detailing how Treasury will use the remaining $350 billion in order to start the clock.
* The text of the Joint Resolution of Disapproval must be introduced within 3-days of receiving the President's report. Fast track procedures are spelled out in the statute for both the House of Representatives and the Senate.
* If Congress passes a Joint Resolution of Disapproval within 15-days of receiving the President's report, the Treasury is limited to the $350 billion previously authorized. If no such Joint Resolution is enacted into law, the Secretary of the Treasury receives the remaining $350 billion for a total outstanding balance at any one time of $700 billion.
* If the President vetoes the Joint Resolution of Disapproval, the 15-day limit continues to apply but the clock is paused until Congress receives the actual veto message.

Source: House of Representatives
More


On Friday, Mr. Paulson said lawmakers should release the second $350 billion "to support financial market stability." He said he would discuss tapping the money "in the near future" with congressional leaders and members of President-elect Barack Obama's transition team.

Draining the current bailout fund raises the question of how the administration would handle an unexpected fiscal emergency. Mr. Paulson said in a statement Friday that Treasury, along with the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., has "the necessary resources to address a significant financial market event." While the first $350 billion has been allocated, not all of the money has been spent and Treasury could dip into the unused funds."

...............

There is the truth, as reported in The Wall St. Journal.

So Claw/JakeD, since you clearly are just a perpetually lying scumbag, hence forth I shall be ignoring you, so save your lies for someone else.

Posted by: Liam-still | January 31, 2011 3:36 PM | Report abuse

@rukidding7 "2jcn4p

"The flip side is that Americans are no more willing to raise taxes to address the deficit than they are to cut spending."

That is simply not true. There was plenty of support to let the Bush Tax cuts for the wealthy expire. Obama let the R's blackmail him in the lame duck session. As it turns out he probably feels pretty good about that as opinion about the tax cuts for the wealthy is not going to change anytime soon. Dare I say the rich have pushed their luck as far as they can with the American Public. They've enjoyed a capital gains rate that's 10% what the average middle class working stiff pays because this country no longer values labor but prefers wealthy people manipulating money through "investments".
The next time this issue of taxation comes up the mood will only be worse as resentment (justified or not) continues to build and words like "bankster" "lobbyist" become national curse words."

And how much support was there for letting all the Bush tax cuts expire? Had 40 Senate Democrats wanted to, they could have filibustered the tax cut bill just like the Republicans threatened to do and let all the rates revert to the Clinton levels, but they didn't.

Anyway, we'll see the proof of this one way or another in two years. Assuming there isn't a fundamental tax system overhaul in between then and now, my expectation is that all the Bush tax cuts will get extended again.

Posted by: jnc4p | January 31, 2011 3:39 PM | Report abuse

This is just too funny:
=========
The stimulus bill enacted this year has resulted in as many as 1.6 million jobs saved or created this fall, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said Monday evening.

The nonpartisan CBO said in a legally mandated report that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) had resulted in between 600,000 and 1.6 million jobs for the U.S. economy that wouldn't have existed in the absence of the stimulus.

Additionally, the CBO said, gross domestic product (GDP) was as much as 3.2 percent higher than it would have been in the absence of the stimulus.

================

How did the CBO arrive at these "mandated" numbahs? they use MODELS. Gosh, just like the climate hoax: use a model to "explain" or "measure" something, come to a bogus conclusion but hey, not to worry, the liberals will buy it anyway because they NEED to.

Just too funny

Posted by: skipsailing28 | January 31, 2011 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Liam,

Hoover raised spending each year until fiscal 1933. His also raised tax rates.

Dems took control of the Senate in 2006.

U r a comedy of errors.

Jenn, you don't speak for "most economists," and the claim that stimulus saved x jobs is just an assumption some economists make. It doesn't account for "what is not seen."

The only objective facts are that the economy is much worse with the stimulus than we were it would be without it.

You will be trying to explain that for the next two years.

Posted by: quarterback1 | January 31, 2011 4:03 PM | Report abuse

I look forward to Liam-still ignoring me, but I won't hold my breath, given his "personality disorder".

Posted by: clawrence12 | January 31, 2011 6:02 PM | Report abuse

The republicans aren't going to cut education or research, invention or innovation. They're going to cut from the budget the impediments to the quality public education we used to be proud of in the US, all those big, bloated federal salaries and benefits paid to the fat cats in the dept of education. As to "research", Obama has directed all research money go to his big contributors, who then funnel that money overseas. We're not researching in the US as we used to. It's all being bled away. The rare occasions where research money is spent here, it's going to foreign nationals, like the fraud from India, who came here on a visa based on a fraudulent CV, Anil Potti claimed to have degrees in medicine, with a research background, as well as claiming to have been a Rhodes Scholar. He was brought to the US by Duke University, one of those examples of the lie of "the best and brightest", which in every case is the worst, uneducated and unskilled, garbage.

Then when left wing Duke University was being tipped off, after taking massive grants from the NHS and American Cancer Society to fund Potti's "research", from other medical researchers, Duke didn't report him, they didn't even investigate, they sought to cover the fraud up, they sat on their hands. http://dukefactchecker.blogspot.com/2011/01/potti-bombshell-administrators.html

The US is being looted by corrupt, unprincipled leftists, and their foreign compatriots. Our education system, our natural resources, our health care systems. The democrats and Obama are pushing entire industries out of the US, leaving our citizens and their children jobless, homeless and destitute.

I'm not falling for the attempts to frighten us by bought and paid for pundits like Sargent. He's in the tank, hasn't written one word that reflects the economic reality in our country. Not one word decrying the fact that while Obama and the dems are forcing us to borrow trillions from China, he then turns around and gives tens of billions of dollars in foreign aid to China, then funnels hundreds of billions of dollars to China to subsidize their economic advantage. 18 billion a year in foreign aid to wealthy India, and billions more to other wealthy nations. He's funneling hundreds of billions to the UN, and foreign banks and industries, leaving us increasingly more in debt.

We need to completely cut off all foreign aid. Our people are broke and suffering, it's not sustainable to spend in this manner. We have to cut somewhere, and the first place to cut is foreign expenditure, then the fattened up federal hog. Send those corrupt bastards in Washington pink slips, then cut the president and congresss salaries, eliminate their benefits. Put the control of our schools back at the local level. No more frivolous unfunded federal mandates. Let's give US research colleges and universities grants for research, but only to US citizen research scientists. The results of their work, can be bought by US companies, not foreign ones.

Posted by: jenn3 | January 31, 2011 6:42 PM | Report abuse

So the Dems are going to defend their policy of massive spending, and their proposals to conduct even more massive spending. Sounds like a great strategy to tug the emotional heartstrings of their Base and to hold on to the 20% of voters who identify themselves as Liberals.

But what about the Independents? Think they'll go for this strategy? After they abandonded the Dems in droves and gave the House to the Repubs in a landslide election?

This strategy just proves how ideological the Dems are. They CANNOT back away from their failed policies. The more their failures become apparent, the more they rationalize and run from reality.

Posted by: JohnR22 | February 1, 2011 10:02 AM | Report abuse

The ultimate problem in this country with discussing taxes and government spending is the fact that almost half the working popultion do not pay any federal income taxes. The bottom 40% actually get money back from the federal government in the form of various income credits etc. The top 10% of income earners pay over 70% of federal income taxes. So you can see why poll after poll has the strange disfunction of people saying they want less government but don't want to cut specific government programs. When you don't pay any taxes or almost no taxes, which is true of over half the population of this country and a large number of you get a net gain from the federal government in the tax structure then you of course are always going to be in favor of more federal government services, which you don't have to pay for anyway, and higher taxes on the other "rich" guy to fund those services. It's human nature.

Posted by: RobT1 | February 1, 2011 12:27 PM | Report abuse

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