Friday, February 6, 2009

The Obligatory Stimulus Quote Post, Part IV

Associated Press:

President Barack Obama decried as "inexcusable and irresponsible" the delay of his economic recovery legislation in Congress with an estimated 3.6 million Americans losing their jobs since the recession began.
Jacob Sullum:
Indeed, pausing to ask whether offering Medicaid to millionaires, giving $1 billion to perpetually penurious Amtrak, devoting $44 billion to "clean energy," or boosting the budget of the National Endowment for the Arts is a good idea would be reckless at a time like this. "When it comes to rebuilding our economy," Obama warned just before the House approved the pseudo-stimulus bill, "we don't have a moment to spare." Acting responsibly, in other words, would be irresponsible.
New York Times:
Japan’s rural areas have been paved over and filled in with roads, dams and other big infrastructure projects, the legacy of trillions of dollars spent to lift the economy from a severe downturn caused by the bursting of a real estate bubble in the late 1980s. During those nearly two decades, Japan accumulated the largest public debt in the developed world — totaling 180 percent of its $5.5 trillion economy — while failing to generate a convincing recovery.
Bob Shrum:
In fact, as I’ve pointed out before, from 1933 through 1937, unemployment declined year on year in what was then the largest period of uninterrupted growth in American history; the Dow-Jones Industrial average rose nearly 400 percent. The New Deal only faltered afterwards, in 1938, as the President prematurely moved toward a balanced budget with less stimulative spending—precisely the course the Romneys, Kyls and Republican ideologues now demand.
New York Times:
Among ordinary Japanese, the spending is widely disparaged for having turned the nation into a public-works-based welfare state and making regional economies dependent on Tokyo for jobs. Much of the blame has fallen on the Liberal Democratic Party, which has long used government spending to grease rural vote-buying machines that help keep the party in power.
President Barack Obama:
A failure to act, and act now, will turn crisis into a catastrophe.
Charles Krauthammer:
Catastrophe, mind you. So much for the president who in his inaugural address two weeks earlier declared "we have chosen hope over fear." Until, that is, you need fear to pass a bill.
Glenn Reynolds:
INTERESTED IN CONTACTING YOUR SENATORS ABOUT THE STIMULUS? The main number is (202) 224-3121. And here’s a page of contact information with direct numbers, etc.
[A]s we noted here, public support for the pork bill has dropped by a net seventeen points in just two weeks. That can fairly be described as "free-fall."
Glenn Reynolds:
PEOPLE CALLING THEIR SENATORS ABOUT THE STIMULUS are emailing that they’re getting “all circuits busy” signals. You can always call their local offices if you can’t get through to the Capitol.
Rasmussen Reports:
Support for the economic recovery plan working its way through Congress has fallen again this week. For the first time, a plurality of voters nationwide oppose the $800-billion-plus plan.
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC):
People are running scared in the Senate because this bill is stinking up the place.
Washington Post:
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.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY):
[To give the proposed economic stimulus plan some perspective,] if you started the day Jesus Christ was born and spent $1 million every day since then, you still wouldn’t have spent $1 trillion.
Virginia Postrel:
[T]he cost to taxpayers isn't the biggest problem with the bill's protectionism. A trade war threatens to exacerbate the single largest danger in the worldwide downturn: that a serious contraction in China will lead to domestic unrest and that that the Chinese government will engage in military aggression to focus frustration outward.
Andrew Taylor:
Obama said the criticisms he has heard "echo the very same failed economic theories that led us into this crisis in the first place, the notion that tax cuts alone will solve all our problems... I reject those theories, and so did the American people when they went to the polls in November and voted resoundingly for change."
Rasmussen Reports:
A stimulus plan that includes only tax cuts is now more popular than the economic recovery plan being considered in Congress.
Jerry Pournelle:
The tax cut provision of the "stimulus bill" seem aimed at solidifying party control: most of it is transfer payments to people who don't now pay taxes. In the US 40% don't pay federal taxes. If any large number of those are given money as transfer payments they will learn to rely on them. At which point they will be motivated to vote. And community organizers will see that they do vote. Now understand: many of those who get negative income taxes do necessary work and they aren't very well paid. The question becomes, is that a federal problem, and should it be dealt with by transfer payments? Because once this is instituted, it's going to be pretty permanent. Those affected by it will be mobilized to defend it, and it will mean more to them than it does to those opposed. So it goes.
Bob Shrum:
They won’t admit it, but like the de facto leader of their party, Rush Limbaugh, Republicans want the President to “fail.” Their arguments—if one can dignify them as such—are by turns petty, dishonest or ignorant, ahistorical and ugly.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi:
Every month that we do not have an economic recovery package, 500 million Americans lose their jobs. I don't think we can go fast enough to stop that.
According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, the resident population of the United States, projected to 02/04/09 at 23:00 GMT (EST+5) is 305,749,528.
Nancy Pelosi: Dumber than soap.
Glenn Reynolds:
I don’t know that this really makes Nancy Pelosi “dumber than soap.” But if Sarah Palin had said this, it would be taken as proof that she was unsuited for national politics.
Moe Lane:
No, really, Glenn: Dumber than soap.
When Obama finally spoke, he called Pelosi “a rock” and “the great speaker of the House.” And he said that House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey and other House chairmen had acted with “discipline” in passing their version of the stimulus bill.
Michael O'Brien:
"So what?" [House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-Wisc.)] asked in response to a question on NPR's "Morning Edition" about the perceived lack of direction from Congress as to how money in the stimulus should be spent.
Michael Hirsh:
When you are dealing with a stimulus of this size, there are going to be wasteful expenditures and boondoggles. There's no way anyone can spend $800 to $900 billion quickly without waste and boondoggles. It comes with the Keynesian territory. This is an emergency; the normal rules do not apply.
Washington Times:
A top House Republican is demanding an investigation into whether the more than $2 billion for national parks in the House stimulus package is proper in light of the fact that the chief lobbyist for the National Parks Conservation Association is the son of House Appropriations Committee Chairman David R. Obey.
Air Force One makes its maiden flight with the new president tomorrow afternoon, when Obama takes a one-day "out and back excursion" to the House Democratic Caucus retreat at the Kingsmill Resort and Spa in Williamsburg, Va.
Greg Pollowitz:
He's taking a 747 from Andrews Air Force Base to Williamsburg? It's 157 miles. And with the country in recession, couldn't the Dems have met in D.C. rather than the luxurious Kingsmill Resort?
Washington Times:
"Well, I'd — you know, I'd — Williamsburg is — has a lofty place in our country's history," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said, when asked if there was any special significance to the president's choice. "I don't know that there's any great symbolism in this one in particular," he added at Wednesday's briefing off the West Wing.

Mr. Obama will head to Kingsmill Resort and Spa in the historical Virginia city to start a three-day planning session. The resort boasts multiple championship golf courses, a full-service spa and six restaurants, noted the Hill newspaper, which broke the story about the Democratic retreats.
Patterico's Pontifications:
Say it with me: shared sacrifice!
Washington Times:
Democrats will ride together to the resort on a chartered Amtrak train at a cost to taxpayers of about $70,000, the Hill reported. Taxpayers will also foot the bill for security helicopters to fly above the train. The caucus will spend thousands: In 2003, for example, they spent $11,200 on food and $6,900 on entertainment, the paper said.

The trip comes after several Democratic lawmakers criticized American International Group Inc. executives for spending nearly $500,000 at a company retreat in California just days after the federal government bailed the company out with $85 billion in taxpayer funds. In addition, Wells Fargo & Co., which received $25 billion in taxpayer bailout money and recently announced a $2.3 billion loss for the last quarter of 2008, canceled its planned 12-night junket to expensive hotels in Las Vegas for events that included a luxurious four-day employee sales conference.

[White House Press Secretary Robert] Gibbs said the Vegas trip "didn't happen because of the diligent work of many in the reporting of these and the outcry that ensued." But no one in the briefing room Wednesday asked about the expensive Democratic retreat.
Jacob Sullum:
Last October, while campaigning in Toledo, Barack Obama called for "a new ethic of responsibility." The nation's economic troubles, he said, occurred partly because "everyone was living beyond their means," including politicians who "spent money they didn't have."
Charles Krauthammer:
After Obama's miraculous 2008 presidential campaign, it was clear that at some point the magical mystery tour would have to end. The nation would rub its eyes and begin to emerge from its reverie. The hallucinatory Obama would give way to the mere mortal. The great ethical transformations promised would be seen as a fairy tale that all presidents tell -- and that this president told better than anyone.

I thought the awakening would take six months. It took two and a half weeks.
Bob Shrum:
But spending won’t work, according to the conservative oppositionists. Look at the New Deal, they say, it failed! This Republican fiction assumes that in 1936 Americans suffered from mass delusion as they reelected FDR in a huge landslide. Apparently voters hadn’t noticed his conspicuous failure in office.
Daily Mirror Headline After the 2004 Re-election of George W. Bush:
How could 59,054,087 people be so DUMB?
Washington Post:
[O]n a 52 to 45 vote, the chamber stripped $246 million in tax breaks for Hollywood production companies, a measure offered by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), the Senate's self-appointed watchdog on federal spending. Coburn, who almost always loses his quixotic efforts to cut funding, appeared jubilant -- if somewhat surprised -- by his unexpected victory.
Obama, speaking to about 200 House Democrats at their annual retreat at the Kingsmill Resort and Spa, dismissed Republican attacks against the massive spending in the stimulus.

"What do you think a stimulus is?" Obama asked incredulously. "It’s spending — that's the whole point! Seriously.”
Cato Institute Full-Page Newspaper Ad Signed by More Than 200 Economists:
Notwithstanding reports that all economists are now Keynesians and that we all support a big increase in the burden of government, we the undersigned do not believe that more government spending is a way to improve economic performance. More government spending by Hoover and Roosevelt did not pull the United States economy out of the Great Depression in the 1930s. More government spending did not solve Japan’s “lost decade” in the 1990s. As such, it is a triumph of hope over experience to believe that more government spending will help the U.S. today. To improve the economy, policymakers should focus on reforms that remove impediments to work, saving, investment and production. Lower tax rates and a reduction in the burden of government are the best ways of using fiscal policy to boost growth.
Washington Post:
In a 71 to 26 vote, the Senate approved a new incentive for car buyers, at an estimated cost of $11 billion over 10 years. According to Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), the amendment's sponsor, buyers could deduct the cost of sales tax for new cars purchased between last Nov. 12 and Dec. 31, 2009. Individuals with incomes of up to $125,000 would qualify.
President Barack Obama:
In recent days, there have been misguided criticisms of this plan that echo the failed theories that helped lead us into this crisis -- the notion that tax cuts alone will solve all our problems; that we can meet our enormous tests with half-steps and piecemeal measures; that we can ignore fundamental challenges such as energy independence and the high cost of health care and still expect our economy and our country to thrive.
Matt Welch:
But who had the theory that the federal government should be the elephant in the room of the mortgage business, pressure commercial banks to write mortgages for risky borrowers, even while applying less oversight to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac than on actors in private sector? It certainly wasn't the free marketeers. Who thought credit default swaps and mortgage-backed securities should be left to expand like crazy without providing for a clearinghouse to at least measure their number and worth? It wasn't the house libertarian on the SEC. Who thought elevating Alan Greenspan to deity status while he maestroed the long era of loose credit was the capital thing to do? I know this will come as a surprise for those who think an Ayn Rand habit gets people a lifetime get-out-of-jail-free card on Planet Libertarian, but Greenspan's bubble-blowing policies were plenty controversial in these quarters before the dukey hit the fan.
Bob Shrum:
Just pass the infrastructure investment, [Utah Senator Robert Bennett] suggests, and postpone the rest until later (or never). He gives the impression that he never met a road he didn’t want to build, or a needy child he didn’t want to leave without nutrition or health care.
Representative Jim Cooper (D-TN):
I got in terrible trouble with our leadership because they don’t care what’s in the bill, they just want it passed and they want it to be unanimous. They don’t mind the partisan fighting cause that’s what they are used to. In fact, they’re really good at it. And they’re a little bit worried about what a post-partisan future might look like. If members actually had to read the bills and figure out whether they are any good or not. We’re just told how to vote. We’re treated like mushrooms most of the time.
Bob Shrum:
Right now, Republicans are out of ideas, offering little more than resentment and right wing talking points. Maybe [David] Frum can come up with a substantive agenda for them. Or maybe Republicans are just brain dead. In that case, the voters will surely put more of them out of their misery in 2010 and 2012.
International Herald Tribune:
Prime Minister Fran├žois Fillon on Monday rejected demands that the French government seek to stimulate consumer spending, rather than follow his plan to stimulate corporate and infrastructure investment, to lift France out of its economic slump.

"It would be irresponsible to chose another policy, which would increase our country's indebtedness without having more infrastructure and increased competitiveness in the end," Fillon said in a speech in Lyon.
Chris Matthews:
You know, when you buy a bag of candies, a bag of M&Ms, you know that everything in there is M&Ms. As an example, this stimulus package, nobody knows what‘s in there. There‘s a little of this, a little of that, little of this thing. We‘re finding out little things about Hollywood. We‘re finding out something about condoms.

Why didn‘t they put together a package with clear labels on say four or five categories of spending and tax cuts that everybody could sell, building bridges, broadband, education? Something where they could defend each portion of it. They didn‘t do that, did they?
President Barack Obama:
Let's not make the perfect the enemy of the essential.
Washington Post:
And the chamber ended the night by unanimously accepting an additional $6.5 billion for research at the National Institutes of Health, pushing the cost of the Senate legislation -- for now -- to more than $900 billion.
Los Angeles Times:
After a long day of behind-the-scenes negotiations, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) dropped plans to hold a final vote on the bill as the bipartisan group of centrists worked into the night to trim as much as $100 billion, an attempt to bring moderate Republicans on board without driving Democrats away.
Patterico's Pontifications:
$100 billion off a $937 billion package. If that sounds good to you, then you’re probably the type of person who is impressed when the car dealer says he’s willing to knock $500 off the sticker price.
Hugh Hewitt:
President Obama has been given an opportunity to spend a trillion dollars, and if he does and the economy stays flat or in even negative growth because he chose a partisan path at the opening of his allegedly bipartisan adminstration, that story line will never get rewritten.
Sources: Senators reach deal on stimulus; will vote Friday.