I am not sure if Barack Obama is arrogant or naive enough to believe that he can somehow craft a bipartisan agreement to save the American economy from the worst of what’s coming, but he’s learning a painful lesson right now if Paul Krugman is right. It appears that in order to buy enough Republican votes, votes from the party that was largely responsible for creating the mess in the first place, Obama has had to convert huge chunks of the stimulus package into tax cuts, cuts which many, including Krugman, have argued will not provide immediate stimulous benefits, and may in fact lead to further problems down the road as the governments’ resources dwindle.
As Krugman points out, expenditures at low levels, where they will have the greatest effect, have either been reduced (such as proposed additional funds directly to states), or eliminated altogether. This flies in the face of a Moody’s report last year that determined that the greatest immediate stimulus effects come from increases to food stamp and unemployment insurance programs; far greater than the effects of tax breaks.
The Democrats need to be told who won the election. The Republicans have nothing to lose if Obama’s stimulus package doesn’t work and everything to gain in 2012. It is a farce that Obama should sacrifice the chances of producing real progress at the altar of bipartisanship. This would work if one believed that the Republicans actually wanted what’s best for the country, but anyone alive the last eight years should know better than that. Like Rush Limbaugh, the Republicans want Barack Obama to fail, and they will do anything they can to see that he does. They don’t give a rat’s ass about good governance – the only thing they care about is winning elections. If Obama provides a stimulus package that works, they will indeed lose the next time around, and maybe the next, and maybe the next. Their only hope is to make sure that it doesn’t work, and if they can promote their failed agenda while doing it, while at the same time make it look like it was the Democrats’ ideas that failed, all the better.
Obama either has to punk the Republicans or be punked by them – there is no middle ground.