Anybody could spend all day, every day trying to decode the stimulus plan making its way through congress. It’s widely accepted that the country is in dire straights and could be facing double digit unemployment in the next 6-12 months. We know urgency is critical.
But I voted for change. I voted for the rhetoric that President Obama used in every debate: Kill poor performing government programs and use a scalpel to cut the cancer out of the federal budget. I voted for an intellectual heavyweight who could decode the ways of Washington and use the power of the bully pulpit to get Americans to accept the dire consequences of our predicament.
This Stiumlus plan calls for large sums of money to be invested with state unemployment agencies (their coffers are dry) and extending cobra benefits. It calls for money to flow to state education funds so that education programs that might be cut can continue. There are various infrastructure investments around the country as the bill gets marked up to help various Congressmen and Senators. This isn’t stimulus. It’s an emergency spending bill to prop up an economy teetering on the abyss. Congress is taking out a trillion dollar credit card to buy more stuff and China is Visa. Only this time Visa is not entirely sure they want to give us all of this credit.
What is it about this plan that radiates change? One week into the administration, they are presenting legislation that does not call for shared sacrifice. We’re cutting taxes and not raising them. Shouldn’t we raise taxes on people with jobs and use the proceeds to retrain people who need jobs.
This is the Washington I grew up in — insular, myopic as inside-the-beltway as it comes. I want to believe in Obama’s Team of Rivals, but what if these Clintonite members of the establishment can’t bring fresh ideas and rely on the horse-trading power hungry culture that drove me out of my hometown forever.
If we are going to spend $1 trillion on stimulus and another $1 trillion on saving the financial industry then we must have new innovative strategic vision in four key areas:
4. Financial Industry Regulation
These were the campaign promises. I did not vote for the Democratic Party (I’m a lifelong registered democrat), rather I supported Barack Obama the progressive intellectual. Supporting programs simply to keep us afloat until next year with no real overarching retooling of our governmental strategy is, and I hate to say it, better than Bush, but worse than Clinton.
I’m patient, but the sums we are investing are staggering. We’re two weeks a way from the stimulus bill. $350 bn in TARP 1 that has accomplished nothing is so outrageous it defies imagination.
I always thought that the country’s dire economic condition could create the rare political environment to push through uncommonly innovative investments in energy and education reform. I pray (and I don’t typically do so) that the devil is in the details of the stimulus plan and that the NYT and Politico have not uncovered the progressive agenda.
At the moment, Congresshas a bill that reminds me of LBJ’s great society with a little Reagan tax policy thrown in for good measure. That’s not FDR’s new deal. That’s just the Washington that makes me want to live somewhere else.