Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 4, 2009

A STRUGGLING STIMULUS.... President Obama probably thought this would be easier. He won a sweeping victory in November, and entered office with a huge approval rating. His party enjoys big majorities in both the House and Senate. In the midst of a global economic crisis, the president presented an ambitious stimulus package, which enjoyed support from economists, the business community, state officials, and the public. For a while, the most common criticism of the proposal was that it wasn't big enough, and wasn't prepared to spend enough money.

That was before the White House lost control of the debate.

Watching the reaction from Republicans and most news outlets, I keep thinking of an analogy. There's a nine-alarm fire, and Obama's the fire chief. He wants to send the cavalry, hoping to save lives and contain the fire from spreading out of control, while simultaneously taking fire-prevention steps for the future. Soon, Republicans start wondering if 2% of the tools on the fire-engines are entirely necessary for fighting the fire. Democrats think nine trucks is an excessive number, and maybe if Obama sent seven, it'll make Republicans happier. (Said Sen. Ben Nelson, "I don't know, hundreds of gallons of water sounds like an awful lot.")

Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Lou Dobbs, and Joe Scarborough try to convince the community that Obama is making a big mistake trying to put out a fire with water, which is just socialism in disguise.

Conservatives want to know why Obama won't just give people a tax cut, so the public can buy fire-extinguishers, axes, and Dalmatians of their own. The Washington Post runs four op-eds from Amity Shlaes, arguing that Fire Chief Roosevelt overreacted during the last nine-alarm fire, and it would have gone out on its own if he'd just left it alone.

And while the fire keeps burning, the Senate wants to figure out how to address the fire in a way that costs less and satisfies the concerns of "centrists."

Senate Democratic leaders conceded yesterday that they do not have the votes to pass the stimulus bill as currently written and said that to gain bipartisan support, they will seek to cut provisions that would not provide an immediate boost to the economy. [...]

Moderate Republicans are trying to trim the bill by as much as $200 billion, although Democrats working with those GOP senators have not agreed to a specific figure.

It's unclear whether the Senate lacks the votes to pass the stimulus plan, or whether the Senate lacks the votes to overcome a Republican filibuster of the plan. I think it's the latter.

Steve Benen 11:05 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (73)

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Comments

I simply can't understand why the Obama admin is allowing the republicans to control the message. Sure, the MSM and it's corporate handlers have an interest in keeping the status quo, but Obama has the bully pulpit.

Where are the press conferences? Where are the surrogates pounding the pavement? Where is a presidential address? Where are the democrats, and why aren't they refuting the GOP lies and obfuscations?

I don't get it.

Posted by: citizen_pain on February 4, 2009 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

If this is such an important matter then the President and his party should not have proposed such a rotten turkey of a bill, should they?

You're saying that because it is an emergency and the issue is serious, everyone should just roll over and accept whatever idiotic crap they try to shove into it?

Well no. Thank heavens that systems in Washington are still working sufficiently well to defend us from this.

Posted by: a on February 4, 2009 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

Dems are getting rolled (willingly?) and so is Obama. This stimulus won't work, everyone knows it, now it'll be a compromised bill that amounts to a giant tax cut for the wealthy and for corporations, it's yet another bailout for the wealthy, make no mistake about it. The scary thing is that Republicans think that by reviving Reaganite type policies it will save the economy as if it weren't those policies that got us here.

During the rolling blackouts Ken Lay cried that they were because of too much regulation all the while it was deregulation that allowed Enron to game the sytem and shut down the power plants. What is going on know is exactly the same thing. We got shock doctrined again. This time they took advantage of the transition and Obama's need to push through a bill without having the public relations roll out set and ready to go.

ps. America sucks. Republican ideologues and their corporate media enablers and DINO enablers rule no matter what the will of the people.

Posted by: grinning cat on February 4, 2009 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

If the spineless morons who comprise the Senate Democratic "leadership" had five working brain cells between them, they'd say "bring it on!" Let the Republicans filibuster the stimulus. Let them really filibuster the stimulus. In other words, bring out the cots, have the staff bring sandwiches, set up authorized bathroom breaks, and DO IT.

This will attract the tenthwits of the "major media" to cover, and the American people will watch the Republicans turn themselves into mincemeat, while news reports continue of another half-million jobs lost while the filibuster goes on.

If Obama then uses Organizing for America to set up popular demonstrations against these bozos outside their home state offices, and turns up the heat to "high," even the dumbest ones will "get it."

Ah yes, that's what would happen if we actually had bipeds with backbones in public office. But Mark Twain is still right. As he said in 1872: "Consider a politician, then consider an idiot. Ah, but I repeat myself."

Posted by: TCinLA on February 4, 2009 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

"President Obama probably thought this would be easier."

If this is true, he is as naive as I feared, and we are totally totally fucked.

And what was said above.

Posted by: Obama Loves the Steelers on February 4, 2009 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

Jesus Christ, the way the left blogsphere is reacting, you'd think that this was going to be the last spending bill ever.

The bill is already 3x its original proposed size, has to get through conference, and then it has to get past Republicans in the Senate and Blue Dogs in the House on an up or down vote.

It isn't Obama, near as I can tell, who underestimated the task, it's the naive, triumphalist blogsphere.

Just like the contraception spending that had to go, we'll get it later.
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on February 4, 2009 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

Republicans aren't working to get a better bill -- they want no bill. If the economy is still in the tank in '10, all the better for their political fortunes.

Posted by: jonas on February 4, 2009 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

Those of you who are spoiling for a fight don't seem to have noticed that the CBO, Obama, etc. see a need for long-term stimulus. What that means is that

1. they're going to need political capital in the future
2. future bills will be negotiated under a continuing economic cloud

So, if you shoot your wad on this bill, you will politically own the recession and you will lose on subsequent bills.
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on February 4, 2009 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

The American people will overcome the filibuster if Obama just makes the thugs actually do it. Imho, he has to be smart enough to know that, so either he is too obsessed with bipartisanship or, shudder, his own party wont even vote for it. If the latter is true, I suspect very few on either side wants the American people to know it. Civil unrest is possible if nothing is done and the decline continues. Politically, something is better than nothing.

Posted by: Michael7843853 on February 4, 2009 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

The messaging from the WH and Dems is really abysmal.

It's a vital issue. All I see on TV are republicans lying about it or talking about how big the stimulus is.

For each one of those Repubs, there should be a Dem saying the economy is a disaster and will get way worse with no stimulus. Bush's and Hoover's policies got us here and won't get us out.

For something really important the communications strategy I see is non-existent.

And as you say they lost control of the debate. Getting it back will take more than an abysmal jobs report or two.

Posted by: riffle on February 4, 2009 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

The bill IS a big turkey.

It's chock full of absolutely random spending. Yes, almost all of it will be stimulative, but that's like saying every practice swing a batter takes increases his strength. If the batter is swinging wildly, it's not going to help his performance in the long run.

I hope the delay in the bill will result in a better, more focused stimulus that's much more about INVESTMENT in physical and electronic infrastructure, energy efficiency, and health care improvements. Those things will provide an immediate boost as well as help us be a stronger, more stable, more competitive country in the future.

Posted by: polthereal on February 4, 2009 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

I agree. Make them actually fillibuster! I'm really sick of every time the repubs threaten this, the dems just cave! Make them do it so that we can have footage of the repubs putting their country first.

Posted by: charlie on February 4, 2009 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

It's unclear whether the Senate lacks the votes to pass the stimulus plan, or whether the Senate lacks the votes to overcome a Republican filibuster of the plan.

Actually, the Democrats in the Senate, in the House and in the White House lack the spine to stand up to the Republicans. They lack the courage to challenge the lies that the Republicans are spreading and that the corporate-controlled media are repeating. They lack the integrity to stand up and support the progressive values they say believe in. And they lack the drive to do anything outside of politics, so they don't dare stand up and say, "This is what I believe is right, and if you don't like it you can vote me out of office!"

Posted by: SteveT on February 4, 2009 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

He wants to send the cavalry

Well there's the problem. Screw the cavalry, he needs to send in the fire deprartment;>

Posted by: martin on February 4, 2009 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

The American people will overcome the filibuster if Obama just makes the thugs actually do it.

To do that, he has to go into that confrontation looking like the aggrieved pary, the guy who held his hand out and got bitten.
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on February 4, 2009 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

They lost control of the debate when Obama said 'Bi-Partisan'

What made him think Mitch McConJob would do anything but dleay, obstruct and divert ?

Obams has to TAKE CONTROL
Tell Harry Reid what he wants
Tell Harry Reid what he doesn't want in the bill
If there was pork in the bill, then strip it out

But Get It Done !!
Get it passed !!

Don't give control to the Republicans

Sheesh !!

Posted by: MSierra, SF on February 4, 2009 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

Uhh, Steve, you wrote this post in an "errors were made" style without noting WHO lost control of the stimulus proposals. Per Econobuzz commenting on Hilzoy's last post (the one where Hilz kisses Obama's ass), Obama put together an amorphous pile of dung.

Between half-assed vetting, he didn't have time to do more and better?

Otherwise, the analogy is weak.

Some people from a variety of political points of view question:
A. Is this actually a "nine-alarm" fire?
B. if it is, are the right tools being used?

Frankly, I think question No. 1 should be whether Republicans and Democrats alike aren't too 20th-century in their economic thoughts, still, and not taking enough of a page from behavioral economics to look at the psychology of the situation.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on February 4, 2009 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

To that dickless wimp DINO Harry Reid:

MAKE THEM ACTUALLY FILIBUSTER.

You fucking loser.

Posted by: getaclue on February 4, 2009 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

I'm fed up. When is the left going to learn from Republicans that we need to coordinate our talking points for the short-attention span networks? If I hear the right say, "It's not a stimulus plan; it's a spending plan." one more time... Where is our orchestrated reply to that orchestrated nonsense?

On a related note, it's not enough to complain infrequently in the blogs about the our lack of representation on the airwaves. Why doesn't every politician/pundit from the left complain about out comparative lack of representation in the news and on the radio EVERY time they appear UNTIL we get equal time? We can't correct the facts and sell our ideas if they're on television three times more than we are and they're on the radio 100 times more than we are. This is becoming ridiculous...yet we're not doing anything about it.

Progressive pundits/politicos everywhere. Coordinate your talking points AND get mad!!!

Posted by: CJ on February 4, 2009 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

I would really like to go smack somebody.

Hard.


Posted by: fourlegsgood on February 4, 2009 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

The Dems should press on with the 'best' bill. If repubs want to obstruct and drag the country down on behalf of their constituents, every Dem should find a camera and pound this relentlessly.
Of course, any repub that wants to roll up his sleeves and work for the common good, should be welcomed. Other than that, they should be shoved aside as quickly and as forcefully as possible.
Remember their mindset: They only understand an ass kicking. Give them one.

Posted by: JoeW on February 4, 2009 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

I have a question: how come nobody fought to trim ANYTHING from the bank bailout? Everyone was appalled by the amount and the blank check to Paulson, but nobody asked the relevant questions, ie. how much is going to be spent on what? Oh, but wait. That was for the corporations who support our congresscritters in the style to which they've become accustomed. The stimulus is for us poor suckers who keep paying the bills and who keep getting screwed anyway. Never mind...

Posted by: dalloway on February 4, 2009 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

Wow to hear the crap being posted here you'd think everyone wanted Bush back.

Pelosi started the ball rolling by allowing such obvious gotchas into the House version. Obama probably should've moved faster to tell the Senate that it needed to be modified quickly. Now they've got folks like Conrad and Nelson hobnobbing with the Republicans and making it the rest of the Democrats look bad.

However, I'd much, much, much, MUCH rather be here than where we were 3 weeks ago.

Posted by: Quinn on February 4, 2009 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK


"MAKE THEM ACTUALLY FILIBUSTER"

Seconded

Posted by: Lab Partner on February 4, 2009 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

Instead of the Dem face of this bill being Obama with 60% approval ratings, it is Pelosi et al with high teens approval ratings. That makes it about an even fight with the republicans.

Posted by: red state mike on February 4, 2009 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

I hope I am not being paranoid and I am old enough to have lived through business cycles as an adult before, but this situation feels different and certainly the financial collapse is different from anything since the Great Depression. There are various tipping points in the economy and if we reach them the time and money to claw our way back will dramatically increase and yes civil unrest will occur--it is happening in China now and it happened here in the 30's. It is not entirely clear that the stimulus will do the trick, but it is the best shot we have to stop the bleeding. The idea that any US Senator would actually obstruct the bill seems treasonous to me and the idea that something less than a trillion dollars is too much to spend to save our country should be laughable in view of the bill for Iraq. I think the Democrats in the Senate should replace Harry Reid yesterday. There has been enough nonsense on this deal already--it is not like Obama is seeking to put people to work painting fire hydrants.

Posted by: Terry on February 4, 2009 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

Exactly, red state mike. Couldn't agree more.

Posted by: Quinn on February 4, 2009 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

Benen: I keep thinking of an analogy. There's a nine-alarm fire, and Obama's the fire chief. He wants to send the cavalry, hoping to save lives and contain the fire from spreading out of control, while simultaneously taking fire-prevention steps for the future

Not quite the right analogy. More to the point, I think is this: "there's a nine-alarm fire, and Obama's the fire chief, hoping" that the approach to fighting the fire is bipartisan and includes all of the recent arsonists in the city.

Posted by: Econobuzz on February 4, 2009 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

Democrats never learn. I've been proud to call myself a Democrat until about the last two weeks. This is the biggest economic crisis we've had in my more than six decades, and the Democrats won't get serious about it. If they can't stand up for a real economic stimulus and won't answer Republican complaints, the hell with them.

Posted by: David in NY on February 4, 2009 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

Look things are bad enough that Obama ought to "to put people to work painting fire hydrants," if that's the only job available. Hundreds of thousands of people have been put out of their jobs in the last couple of months. Painting hydrants, like everything else in the stimulus package, would be used to employ people, who would then be able to buy things, which would lead to higher employment. Cripes, this is serious, guys! Quit nickel and diming this bill and get it passed now!

Posted by: David in NY on February 4, 2009 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

Great post, CB.

I think Obama is aware that Republicans are controlling the message. That's why he has a ton of interviews coming out right now.

Don't get all pessimistic just yet. Let's see if he can turn the tide.

Posted by: Franklin on February 4, 2009 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

Harry Reid seems like the weak link. He's in over his head and has to go.

The scary thing is that Republicans think that by reviving Reaganite type policies it will save the economy as if it weren't those policies that got us here.

In a TV interview that I saw this morning, Obama said that he is willing to discuss and amend pretty much anything in the bill, but that he would not consider going back to the policies that brought us to this point in the first place. To me, that was a long-awaited message that the Republicans might prevail on the window dressing, but the substance of the bill will contain Obama's policies going forward.

And, as mentioned above, if the Republicans really want to filibuster the bill, let them. Let's see how it plays out for them.

Posted by: Jack Lindahl on February 4, 2009 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

I think the Democrats need to axe the 2% or 3% of the bill that Republicans keep blathering about makes it impossible for them to pass the bill. If they are willing to let that tiny amount stop them from passing the bill (I know...it's not the real reason), then Dems can just as easily say "Fine, we'll deal with that later, and it's only a small portion of the total amount. It's all gone. All of those items you listed. The vote's tomorrow...see you there, guys." Republicans drew a line in the sand, and it's an easy line to accept because it's ultimately irrelevant. Republicans really want more tax cuts, but they've made some of the more extravagent items of the bill the beacon for their derision. Remove that beacon, and all that's left is a bunch of Republicans pissing and moaning over not enough tax cuts....which becomes a whole different story in the media.

Posted by: Quinn on February 4, 2009 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

If they can't stand up for a real economic stimulus and won't answer Republican complaints, the hell with them.

Looks like it's working, Republicans.
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on February 4, 2009 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

Wow to hear the crap being posted here you'd think everyone wanted Bush back.

PTBS: post-traumatic bush syndrome - meds may be required.

Posted by: The Whining Chorus on February 4, 2009 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

We'll probably end up with another compromised bipartisan bill, like TARP, that will be largely ineffectual and expensive at the same time. By emphasizing bipartisanship, Obama may end up being another Carter, which we cannot afford. He is supposed to be a master strategist, playing rope-a-dope with Republicans, but until he actually pulls it off I will be skeptical.

Posted by: qwerty on February 4, 2009 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

how about this "There's a nine alarm fire and Obama. Summers, Rahm et al. are using the same fire fighting techniques espoused by Friedman and Reaganites except they figure if they use kerosene instead of gasoline it might put the fire out."

btw/ the local "Metro" paper, a free giveaway on the commuter rails had a full page spread on freed Gitmo prisoners now fighting in Yemen and the Sudan and declaring war on America. It looks like a coordinated rollout to me.

Posted by: grinning cat on February 4, 2009 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

Now that the conservatives are playing fiscal conservatives, could someone find out if they are trying to locate the 12 billion that the repubs put on a pallet of (shrink wrapped 100 dollar bills) and flew to Iraq? That would pay for a little bit of stimulus.

Posted by: js on February 4, 2009 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

how did obama lose control of the conversation?

he ceded it to the republicans when he did not come straight out and point to THEIR failed policies that brought us to this point.

when you allow small children to dominate the conversation, you are not going to get intelligent, knowledgeable conversation.

as they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

you would have thought that with all that church-going obama would have learned that one.

Posted by: karen marie on February 4, 2009 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

Why not go through budget reconciliation? If the Republicans don't feel like governing, fuck them. Bush was never shy about passing his agenda through such rules.

They're preventing a legitimately elected Democratic Senator from taking office with spurious legal challenges. As far as I'm concerned, that's a stolen vote in every roll call as long as the vacancy exists. We should make it clear that as long as they want to play that game, we're going to use reconciliation as often as possible.

As an aside, not to be callous, but why hasn't Ted Kennedy resigned? Every vote matters, folks.

Posted by: Omar on February 4, 2009 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

If only it was the right carping about tax cuts. Among many others, Tom Edsall, Political Editor of the Huffington Post, ran a story yesterday that contained this quote: '"I just don't understand," said one key Obama transition aide who worked on the economic program, "how a group of A-level people could produce such a B-minus, C-plus product," referring to top economic advisers Larry Summers, Jason Furman, and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner."'

David Sirota weighs in today, also in the Post, on the Obama government's concerted attempt to keep Progressive economists out of power, in favor of Wall St. insiders and Chicago School Friedmaniacs:

"Amid a stable of eminently qualified and well-respected progressives like James Galbraith, Joseph Stiglitz, Robert Reich, Paul Krugman and Larry Mishel, Obama has chosen Rubin sycophants like Larry Summers and Tim Geithner to run the economy -- the same Larry Summers who pushed the repeal of the Glass-Steagal Act, the same Geithner who masterminded the kleptocratic bank bailout, the same duo whose claim to fame is their personal connections to Rubin, a disgraced Citigroup executive at the center of the current meltdown. And the list of Rubin sycophants keeps getting longer, from Peter Orszag to Jason Furman."

Add this to columns this week from Robert Reich, Paul Krugman and Frank Rich, and the criticism from some of the most responsible members of the Left is growing. We need to keep the Republicans out of power, but not, more and more people are saying, at the cost of saving the country. This is too important to get wrong.

Posted by: ericfree on February 4, 2009 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

you know we have sunk to new depths of stupid when two months after mccain gets his ass handed to him in a presidential election -- in large part because of his incompetence with respect to the economy -- CBS is running clips of him opining on how to fix the economy.

great job president obama has done in giving mccain and the republicans legitimacy they lost through their own failed policies and thinking.

Posted by: karen marie on February 4, 2009 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

Steve Benen wrote: "Watching the reaction from Republicans and most news outlets, I keep thinking of an analogy. "

Let me offer another analogy.

It's as though the corporate-owned mass media and the corporate-owned Republican Party -- i.e. the propaganda arm and the political arm of America's Ultra-Rich Ruling Class, Inc. -- are working in close cooperation to undermine and thwart a popular, populist, liberal Democratic president and the Democratic majority in Congress and prevent them from governing in the public interest rather than in the corporate interest, and to ensure that the Federal government continues to serve the ruthless, rapacious class warfare of the corporate oligarchy against everyone else.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on February 4, 2009 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

a said: "Thank heavens that systems in Washington are still working sufficiently well to defend us from this."

My response to a is: TARP TARP TARP

Or to put it another way: As you kneel to the god of wealth & greed of rethugnicanism; while you are down there you can kiss my ass - you rethug troll.

I agree with fourlegsgood - I would like to go smack someone. It would be a hard choice among the rethugs, the blue dog DINOs, and the gonad-free dumbocrap leadership.

Do all of these people want to see our country go completely down the drain economically? Open your fucking eyes & you will most of this country in a deep recession with millions of unemployed soon to be joined by more millions of unemployed.

We know, from 30 years of rethugnican economics, that the rethugs do not give a shit about working people. Are we now learning that Obama & the dumbs don't care enough to be willing to fight the rethugs?

What our economy needs is jobs, jobs, jobs, & more jobs!

Posted by: VeryAngryOldVet on February 4, 2009 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

Beautiful!

Posted by: Andy Olsen on February 4, 2009 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

i'm continually astonished by the naivete demonstrated in some of these comments, classic examples of the perfect being the enemy of the good.

for all of you who think "let 'em filibuster" is a solution, would you please do some homework? some research? you might discover that filibusters WORK. if you don't care what anyone outside of your constituency thinks, you can filibuster until the cows come home.

the operative assumption here - the gop will get embarassed by a filibuster - is completely wrong, and flies in the face of our collective knowledge of the gop, which is that it is an authoritarian group of thugs who are beyond embarassment.

as for the notion that this is a "turkey," honest to god, folks, what exactly is it that you expect? we need massive G, we're being offered massive G, and in the years to come, there will be further opportunities to expand, refine, and improve (for example, health care reform, which will be a giant stimulus if we can enact it).

back at steve's old place, i drew the ire of a large number of readers because i pointed out that obama was a centrist: people insisted on believing otherwise. well, he is a centrist, but he's our best shot at getting through this: assuming he's an ass because the gop is good at obstruction and doesn't care about the shape of the economy is ridiculous.

Posted by: howard on February 4, 2009 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans are using this bill as an assault on entitlements. THat is what the tax cuts are all about. In two months time if not sooner the media narrative will be wall to wall "We can't afford entitlement spending no that we are bailing out mainstreet blah blah blah."

Look at what's really going on. The kleptocrat media are the one's responsible for this mess. The blame lies with the 4th estate who have enabled the gutting of American values while they fed at the trough.

Real reform begins by smashing the kleptocrat/military industrial propoganda machine.

Posted by: grinning cat on February 4, 2009 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

I hope I am not being paranoid and I am old enough to have lived through business cycles as an adult before, but this situation feels different and certainly the financial collapse is different from anything since the Great Depression.
Posted by: Terry

I agree. The country is illiquid, since what liquidity we had was based on ever increasing asset values (homes) and not real cash (savings). With the burst in home prices goes our liquidity. I think we're in this one long and deep. Hope I'm wrong. Not sure how printing lots more money helps, but I hope Krugman is right.

Posted by: red state mike on February 4, 2009 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

If the analogy is correct you've left out some of the details. Rush Limbaugh passes out cigars to the firefighters and lets the air out of the fire engine tires while they aren't looking, Hannity pushes potatoes up the exhaust pipe while Glenn Beck greases the steering wheel with vaseline.

Meanwhile the embers of the distant bonfire called Iraq and Afghanistan continue to consume billions of dollars each month.

Posted by: Capt Kirk on February 4, 2009 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

Let The Republicans Filibuster.

Christ. How stupid is Reid?

Let the Republican jackasses spend 5 days on the Senate floor arguing that we should do nothing but cut taxes for the rich to help the economy.

Does Reid really think the Republicans would be convincing with that argument?

Posted by: ferg on February 4, 2009 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Lou Dobbs, and Joe Scarborough...

...are the problem. Calling a Senator who's not from my state does nothing, but calling the national broadcast dictatorships that allow these "problems" access into America's homes can have a much more profound effect---just as boycotting the businesses who help shove these "problems" into America's faces will have a deeper impact.

Oh---your local gas station owner likes to listen to Limbaugh? Take your business across the street, and let him know why he just lost the business.

Your favorite greasy spoon has the 'tube turned to FOX all the time? Cut back on dining out, and put the money you save into a food bank or local animal shelter.

The grocer's has Scar on the overhead every morning? Spend an extra $.50 in gas to patronize another grocery store.

Congress doesn't empower these "problems"; their collective fan-base does, and the fan-base just might think twice if they've got a choice between Dobbs---and your dollars....

Posted by: Steve W. on February 4, 2009 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

Yep, team Obama and the Dems in Congress totally crapped the bed on communications and message here--which isn't particularly notable at all because Democrats blow it every time on every major issue.
As for Democrats getting tough in the Senate--what planet are you living on? As long a Harry the Flaccid is running the show, forget it. He'll let the Repubs re-write the legislation before he ever forces them to really fillibuster.

Posted by: Allan Snyder on February 4, 2009 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

NEW FLASH: The democratic leadership offices in Congress have officially been declared a gonad free zone!

Posted by: SadOldVet on February 4, 2009 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

When are you people going to learn that THE REPUBLICANS OWN THE MEDIA!!!!!!!!!!!

Again THE REPUBLICANS OWN THE MEDIA!!!!!!!!!!!

And you wonder why the democrats can't control the message.

Posted by: James G on February 4, 2009 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

It's a great analogy, Steve. I'm disgusted with the Washington Post recently. The NYT is so much better.

It's starting to feel a lot like bratty kids bullying with no regard for the fact that the country is on fire (or drowning--pick your metaphor).

And yes, the way this is being portrayed on cable--even today--is bordering on irresponsible.

There is still obsession over the mis-steps of the cabinet picks with attempts: "What exactly is Obama sorry for? He didn't say...blah, blah...whatever it is, it can't be good...".

They can't wait to milk it for all it's worth. It's a culture of fault finding and finger pointing and over-analyzing minutiae confused with and pretending to be true journalism.

Posted by: While the country drowns, Republicans continue to Bully the President and his ideals on February 4, 2009 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

A football analogy(always the most apropos):

On defense, for decades the dems have been afraid to play honest defense, even now when they have momentum, they concede the 15 yard pass relentlessly and pray for the turnover that seldom comes.

On offense, even when they are the home team(now), they eschew the bold creative moves that would energize their fans and intimidate their opponents in favor of bland, naive, conventional approaches(bipartisanship). They play not to lose.

Posted by: Michael7843853 on February 4, 2009 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

"Again THE REPUBLICANS OWN THE MEDIA!!!!!!!!!!!"

The Democrats won the election by a large majority despite the media. In this case, the media doesn't matter.

House Democrats have the votes to pass any stimulus they want.

Senate Democrats have the votes to pass any stimulus (50), if they're willing to force the Republicans to actually filibuster.

The only thing holding the stimulus back is Reid's cowardice, because he's afraid of an actual filibuster.

The media has no role in this.

Posted by: ferg on February 4, 2009 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

NEW FLASH: The democratic leadership offices in Congress have officially been declared a gonad free zone!

Reid has always been an impotent cross between Mr. Rogers and a newborn kitten, but I'm surprised I haven't seen or heard much from Pelosi since Repubs have been trashing her every day for over a week now.
I seriously wonder how many of these Dems ever get elected, they're so inept at dealing with the media.
I'm not too impressed with the Obama communications team either, supposedly a highly skilled group of young guns who follow every news story--you think they would have been one the phones with every cable news outlet demanding equal time since last week. Now, after a week, Obama schedules a bunch of interviews where the focus is more on Tom Daschle than the stimulus bill.
It's not like they couldn't have used multiple surrogates along with a couple hundred Dem congressmen. WTF? Can you guys do something right for once in your g-d lives?

Posted by: Allan Snyder on February 4, 2009 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

Let's face it. If the republicans manage to come out of this on top, and the democrats are once again painted as weak kneed sissies, our system of government is done. A small, obstructionist, minority party that represents barely a 3rd of the population, all centered in the south and mid-west, has dashed the hopes of the vast majority of Americans who put into power a very popular president with a mandate to fix the econmy in the way he explained he would during the campaign.

The American democratic experiment has ran it's course. Of, for, and by the people was trumped by the very aristocratic elites we fought for our independence.

Go buy some weapons while you still can, get a HAM radio and hunker down.

Posted by: citizen_pain on February 4, 2009 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

And you wonder why the democrats can't control the message.

Oh please, they don't even make an effort. The first comment from every Democrat that gets an interview should be to note the disproportionate number of Repubs that they've had on. You can't change people's perception of a "liberal media" when you don't constantly challenge the myth and point out facts to the contrary.
And it shouldn't take some bloggers doing some basic math before any of them point out that Republicans only oppose about 2% of the spending.
God, I can't wait until Al Franken is sworn in.

Posted by: Allan Snyder on February 4, 2009 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

A small, obstructionist, minority party that represents barely a 3rd of the population, all centered in the south and mid-west, has dashed the hopes of the vast majority of Americans who put into power a very popular president with a mandate to fix the econmy in the way he explained he would during the campaign.

That small minority will only have succeeded because the president insisted on trying to get the approval of that minority before doing what he was elected to do.

Posted by: Allan Snyder on February 4, 2009 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

I think you have it wrong. Your concluding line should have read: the senate lacks the balls to do what is right for the country.

Posted by: rbe1 on February 4, 2009 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

President Obama's drive for bipartisan support is truly alarming. Republicans love getting in the way of anything the looks like progress - it's really their brand identity. For the enitire length of Bush's 2 terms, the reactionary right cheered and supported taking the country back to 1929. Effing hell! Thank god he's a really smart and intuitive guy, and will undoubtedly come to realize that the wingers revel in the power of their no votes. There will never be 'bipartisan' support simply because a huge investment in putting people back to work and upgrading the country's infrastructure would really benefit Dems at the expense of the just vote no pols. Strategically, picking off a couple of Republicans who might lose their jobs in 2010 is probably the maximum gain.

Posted by: bcinaz on February 4, 2009 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

Dumb analogy. The fire doesn't start "burning until after February 16th, which is the date Obama wants to be able to sign the bill.

You would think that after all the hand-wringing going on now about rushing out the initial TARP money, people would prefer to have a slightly more thoughtful infusion of cash go out this time.

Posted by: Craig on February 4, 2009 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

They need to call the repubs on their crap. Make them fillibuster, let the public see what petty, small-minded greedy people the party has now become.

And Obama needs to remind himself that 67% of the population in this country voted for him in a record turnout. We want Obama as our president and we want HIS ideas, not reslugican petty whinings.

Reslugs are just mad they aren't in power anymore and they are stomping their foot...I WANT MY WAY! The Democrats just need to let the slugs hold their breath, turn blue and pass out.

Posted by: Cleo on February 4, 2009 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

If the White House and the Democrats would have a bill that is a "Stimulus Bill" that would show almost immediate results to help the economy and separately address a bill for future spending, that will help the economy in the long run, maybe something will get done.

Posted by: hgetlan on February 4, 2009 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

David Plouffe just sent out an email asking people to organize economic meetings in their homes this weekend. Remember, Obama didn't win the election by doing things the traditional way. The media can do their thing, and he'll do his. He hasn't even been President for a month, and people are already assessing whether or not he'll be another Carter. Give him a little time. Let the Republicans (and Democrats, for that matter) flail. I'm not saying that things will work out miraculously, but let's at least assume that the media might not be the best gauge of what is actually going on.

Posted by: Cindy McCant on February 4, 2009 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

Obama and Reid should just let them filibuster away. Let the fat cats in the market eat another thousand point drop in the Dow. The Republican Party would rather do nothing than enact legislation to keep the world afloat. The moralistic bastards think it will be good to purge the weakness from the system like Andrew Mellon. Try it out for a month, and when their handlers start to scream, enough of the Senate will come around to pass something real and effective.

Bottom line: if Obama and Reid are not ready to play hardball we are all screwed for the next 4 years and Obama will not have to worry about a second term.

Posted by: Nat on February 4, 2009 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK
Bottom line: if Obama and Reid are not ready to play hardball we are all screwed for the next 4 years and Obama

Wrong. Hoover ineffectively dealt with a major downturn for less than 4 years, and even though the recession was over shortly after his successor took office, the country was screwed for more than a decade. And if Obama fails, its unlikely that there will be anyone half as ready to do the right thing as FDR was in 1933 running against Obama in 2012. So, the outlook is bleak for a lot longer than 4 years if the right thing isn't done now, I'd say probably closer to 20 years.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 4, 2009 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

Some days, I wish I kept a bottle of whiskey at my bedside for when I wake up and read stuff like this.

Posted by: scarshapedstar on February 4, 2009 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

Personally, I just sniff the vapors arising from the senseless hysteria. It's a cheap high, but money is tight.

Posted by: Stuck on February 4, 2009 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK
I'm fed up. When is the left going to learn from Republicans that we need to coordinate our talking points for the short-attention span networks? If I hear the right say, "It's not a stimulus plan; it's a spending plan." one more time... Where is our orchestrated reply to that orchestrated nonsense?

That's a great idea, CJ... it would need a snappy name, though. Maybe the Townhouse list?

Failing that, we should at least get someone in the White House to directly feed talking points to some friendly media guys.

It's just terrible how our message doesn't get out.

Posted by: bizzarro world on February 4, 2009 at 6:46 PM | PERMALINK

Look, people, there is a simple way to solve this:

If the GOP d**kwads don't like 2% of the stimulus package, JUST TAKE THOSE PARTS OUT.

Then, if they say they disagree with another 2%, THEN tell them to go F___ themselves.

Are we supposed to lose the 98% in order to keep the 2%?

Who is dumber here, Democrats or Republicans?

If taking out 2% wins votes (and I fully acknowledge that it may NOT win any votes, just like Obama's efforts to be bipartisan in the House), then why is no one considering bending on those parts of the package?

Hell, we may get a couple of votes if we give them ONE percent, half of the things they don't like.

Are we going to let them shoot all of us in the face, over TWO PERCENT?

.

Posted by: SteveGinIL on February 5, 2009 at 12:07 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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