Bipartisanship for bipartisanship’s sake makes for poor economic policy

Is anyone else sick of the bipartisanship overkill? Sure, bipartisanship is a nice idea. But the economy is falling apart–fast. The stimulus bill needs to actually stimulate; a half-assed job is not good enough. Including non-stimulating or less-stimulating items (i.e. a lot of tax cuts) . Wrong policy for the sake of bipartisanship is not going to fix our economy. And it puts the Republicans in the position to be able to blame the Democrats and Obama when/if it doesn’t work like it ought to–enabling them to claim that there is too much spending, when in reality, there are too much tax cuts and not enough spending.

You know what else I’m sick of? Is the Republicans saying (complaining and whining, really) that the bill isn’t bipartisan and that it doesn’t have enough of what they want (is this an attempt of tyranny of the minority?). Bullshit. There is a better than 60/40 spit between spending and tax cuts. Just because the bill is not being supported in a bipartisan fashion doesn’t mean the bill isn’t itself inclusive of both Democratic and Republican economic approaches. The Republicans are digging in their heels and claiming a lack of bipartisanship. No, it’s not really bipartisan–is anyone claiming it actually is?–because the Republicans refuse to vote for it despite efforts by the Democrats and the White House to include Republican one-solution-fits-all of tax cuts. As Rachel Maddow noted in her show yesterday, the compromise by the bipartisan group of Senate moderates has approximately the same ratio of spending: tax cuts and there are Senate Democrats: Republicans. It seems as though the Republicans will only call this bill bipartisan when tax cuts dominate and spending is minimal; in other words, when it becomes absolutely partisan in their favor. Seriously, they are whining that it’s not being done the way their ideology demands, despite the slew of economic experts who disagree, but why should they get their way when they’re wrong and they lost.

So the Republicans are complaining that their ideology does not dominate the bill, and are making a big deal out of the fact that the bill is not bipartisan (because Republicans won’t vote for it). This is despite the slew of concessions to them that will do little for economic stimulus–and despite the fact that regardless of Republican support, the bill itself is technically ideologically bipartisan. But who cares? Seriously. McCain’s arrogant “I’ve done bipartisanship, and this isn’t it” is frankly, beside the point. Do we want bipartisanship, or do we want a bill that will work? Why is bipartisanship the standard of whether or not this is a good bill anyway? Bipartisanship in the midst of an economic crisis is at the very least overrated when one side is just plain wrong; at the very most, it’s dangerous to our economic survival. This soap-box statement by Maddow on Friday’s show does a great job of calling bullshit on Republican’s ideology which would flunk them out of Econ 101 (it’s well worth the 8 minutes):
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more about “Rachel Maddow video: Rejecting The Kn…“, posted with vodpod

I don’t understand the value of including so much tax cuts to appease the Republicans when it will have so little economic impact, simply for the sake of a bipartisan bill that isn’t being supported in a bipartisan fashion anyway. And I’m really really frustrated at the perpetuation of economic falsehoods by the Republicans and the media covering them. Maddow says it brilliantly: we need to start “privileging correct information over incorrect information […] if you are wrong from here on out, you should lose the argument, and you should lose your political potency.” I have to wonder: as the economy is crumbling, why, of why, are Americans continuing to embrace anti-intellectualism? The Republican heel-dragging, falsehood spreading is pure politics: our economic policy is suffering at the expense of political policy. The Republicans are playing politics with our country’s immanent future and I’ve seriously had it.

I grabbed this chart from Moody’s


Note the difference in economic impact for tax cuts vs. infrastructure spending and increases in welfare spending. Giving money to low income folk is almost guaranteed to be spent; giving money to upper class folk, and even middle folk is likely to be saved to used to pay down debt. And that’s nice and good, but it won’t provide the stimulus we need, which requires spending, and it effectively done by giving it to those who will spend it (i.e. poor and working class) and by giving people incomes so they have the security to spend. Why isn’t this front page news, juxtaposed next to Republican’s looney economic-speak?

No, the media sure isn’t helping; they have bought into the Republican spin that spending and stimulus are opposites. Seriously, between the Republican’s screwy economics and the mainstream media regurgitating their ideology, the folks talking to the American people about the merits of the stimulus are economics idiots. From Media Matters:

Economist Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, explains: “Spending that is not stimulus is like cash that is not money. Spending is stimulus, spending is stimulus. Any spending will generate jobs. It is that simple. … Any reporter who does not understand this fact has no business reporting on the economy.” (emphasis mine)

Kudos to Steven Pearlstein, who in Friday’s Washington post said:

Spending is stimulus, no matter what it’s for and who does it. The best spending is that which creates jobs and economic activity now, has big payoffs later and disappears from future budgets.

Bipartisanship in this ideological war is not a good thing. As reported by the Daily Kos:

Krugman added, “This is the kind of situation where you try to build a bridge across an economic chasm and if you build half a bridge it doesn’t work.”

This can’t half-work. Somehow, some way facts and correctness needs to triumph over ideology. The media needs to do its job and not be a mouthpiece for the Republican spin machine. Considering the anti-intellectualism and anti-elitism that pervaded the election, I cynically wonder if “privileging correct information over incorrect information” is too much to ask.

(Cross-posted to The Reaction)

Published in: on February 7, 2009 at 4:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

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