That’s the title of this article written by Jonathan Martin and Carol Lee. My response to President Obama would’ve been brief and succinct: Whether you won the election is irrelevant to setting good economic policy. This stimulus package is terrible economic policy.
President Obama listened to Republican gripes about his stimulus package during a meeting with congressional leaders Friday morning, but he also left no doubt about who’s in charge of these negotiations. “I won,” Obama noted matter-of-factly, according to sources familiar with the conversation.
The exchange arose as top House and Senate Republicans expressed concern to the president about the amount of spending in the package. They also raised red flags about a refundable tax credit that returns money to those who donâ€™t pay income taxes, the sources said.
Simply put, the stimulus package will have little impact in the short term. According to the CBO’s study, significantly less than half of the stimulus package will be spent before the 2010 midterm election. Here’s a short list of items that money is being appropriated for:
- $650 million for digital TV coupons.
- $6 billion for colleges/universities, many which have billion dollar endowments.
- $166 billion in direct aid to states, many of which have failed to budget wisely.
- $50 million in funding for the National Endowment of the Arts.
- $44 million for repairs to U.S. Department of Agriculture headquarters.
- $200 million for the National Mall, including grass planting.
I said then what I’ll say now: What stimulative effect is planting grass at the National Mall going to have? What stimulative effect will $650,000,000 worth of digital TV coupons going to have?
Though nobody is paying attention, the Obama administration is admitting that it doesn’t know what effect spending $850,000,000,000 will have in terms of creating jobs:
â€œCan you tell me Mr. Barthold, how many jobs will be created as a result of this legislation?â€ Camp asked. Barthold replied, â€œIn short, Mr. Camp, I canâ€™t.â€ Camp then pressed Barthold to clarify his position, â€œSo we donâ€™t have an estimate of the number of jobs this would create either private sector or public? We donâ€™t have any estimate of the economic effect that this legislation would have on our economy, whether it would create any growth in our economy at all? We donâ€™t have that data before the committee today?â€ Barthold then nodded his head and shrugged.
The best that the Obama administration can do is admit that they’ll spend unprecedented amounts of money. Unfortunately, they’d also have to admit that there isn’t a guarantee that spending that much money will help the economy. Why should people have any confidence that the Obama adminstration knows what it’s doing in terms of righting the nation’s economic ship?
The good news in this for the Obama administration is that they’ll pass this legislation without difficulty. The bad news for the Obama administration is that they’ll own the high inflation, weak job growth and unprecedented annual budget deficits that will happen as a direct result of this stimulus package.
â€œWe expressed our concerns about some of the spending thatâ€™s being proposed in the House bill,â€ House Minority Leader John Boehner said after meeting with Obama. â€œHow can you spend hundreds of millions of dollars on contraceptives?â€ Boehner asked. â€œHow does that stimulate the economy?â€
The Obama administration better get used to hearing the drumbeat of criticism for his irresponsible spending habits and for his not having a clearly defined plan on how he’d fix the economy.
Love him or hate him, Bill Clinton wrote a book titled Putting People First: How We Can All Change America outlining his economic plan. In that book, he talked about fiscal policy, middle class tax cuts, re-inventing government and reforming welfare. It was his blueprint.
Based on Thomas Bathold’s testimony in front of the House Ways and Means Committee, Barack Obama’s blueprint seems to be “I’m going to spend lots of money. Let’s hope it works.”
Forgive me if that doesn’t give me confidence in the Obama administration’s economic plan.
Cross-posted at California Conservative