S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Stimulus is the word

[1/26/09] From Behind the Links -- a digest of news items from my favorite sources, for the record.

Stimulus -- Today we see the work on getting the Obama administration's stimulus proposals passed by Congress, hopefully by the middle of next month. From today (1/26/09) comes: "Who will be first to define stimulus?" And this: "An $825 billion high-speed high-wire act."

And from CQ Politics (1/23/09): "Leaders vow to speed action on Stimulus after meeting with Obama." And this"Tax portion of Senate's Stimulus proposal unveiled." To quote:

The Senate Finance Committee chairman on Friday unveiled a $275 billion tax-cut plan that largely tracks the priorities of President Obama and House Democratic leaders, attached to $180 billion in proposed spending for health, unemployment benefits and other programs.

Stimulating surprises -- First from The Huffington Post (1/23/09): "The controversial CBO report on Stimulus turns out not to exist#." For days Republicans and the media had been using false information to try to knock down the President's plan. Also, you perhaps did not know that "Your TARP money is being used to prop up the price of oil#." Finally from Think Progress (12/22/08) comes the biggest surprise of all: "Limbaughs Crazy Conspiracy Theory: Democrats Started The Economic Crisis To Help Elect Obama#."

Pessimism about stimulating the economy -- From Alternet: "Obama's Economic Plan Is Not Going to Save Us#" (1/22/09) To quote:

Dire events are going to push Obama toward economic solutions far more fundamental than those he had intended. . . The nation's fast-darkening circumstances define the essential dilemma of Barack Obama's presidency. His instinct is to govern by consensus, in the moderate middle ground of politics. Yet dire events are pushing the new president toward solutions more fundamental than those he had intended. The longer he resists taking more forceful action, the more likely it is that he will be overwhelmed by the gathering adversities.

Three large obstacles are blocking Obama's path. The first is one of scale: his nearly $800 billion recovery package sounds huge, but it is perhaps two or three times too small to produce a turnaround. The second is that the financial system--still dysfunctional despite the bailouts--requires much more than fiscal stimulus and bailout: the government must nationalize and supervise the banks to ensure that they carry out the lending and investing needed for recovery. This means liquidating some famous nameplates--led by Citigroup--that are spiraling toward insolvency. The third is that the crisis is global: the US economy cannot return to normal unless the unbalanced world trading system is simultaneously reformed. Globalization has vastly undermined US productive strength, as trade deficits have led the nation into deepening debtor dependence.

Realistically speaking about what will follow the stimulus -- The Democratic Strategist guest columnist, Will Marshall, used the term, "Obama's Fiscal Realism," rather that speaking of pessimism. President Obama promised in a Washington Post interview, to reform Medicare and Social Security. Obama presented these ideas early so that we would not be surprised later when the time comes to rein in spending. To quote:

As Obama told the Post, social security is, relatively speaking, the easy fix. . . fixing Medicare is a more complicated matter. In addition to the worsening “dependency ratio” as the baby boomers flood into retirement, the costs of medical services themselves are growing much faster than the economy. Unless the Obama Administration can find ways to reduce the rate of health care cost growth, even as it expands coverage to the uninsured, the United States is headed toward a fiscal trainwreck.

Little known technology issues -- The Democrats in Congress are looking at fixing problems by adding specific items to the stimulus package: From CQ Politics (of 1/23/09) comes this positive headline: "Rockefeller's Rewrite of Digital TV Bill May Satisfy Republicans." This little known fact was revealed by cnet news (1/15/09): "Democrats sneak Net neutrality rules into 'stimulus' bill.*"

Hat Tip Key: Regular contributors of links to leads are "betmo*" and Jon#.

(Cross-posted at The Reaction.)

My “creativity and dreaming” post today is at Making Good Mondays.

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