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 don’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:

“Can you tell me Mr. Barthold, how many jobs will be created as a result of this legislation?” Camp asked. Barthold replied, “In short, Mr. Camp, I can’t.” Camp then pressed Barthold to clarify his position, “So we don’t have an estimate of the number of jobs this would create either private sector or public? We don’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 don’t have that data before the committee today?” 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.

“We expressed our concerns about some of the spending that’s being proposed in the House bill,” House Minority Leader John Boehner said after meeting with Obama. “How can you spend hundreds of millions of dollars on contraceptives?” Boehner asked. “How does that stimulate the economy?”

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.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

10 Responses to “Obama to GOP: ‘I won’”

  • J. Ewing says:

    I don’t mean to criticize, but I think we should avoid criticizing the Congress and Obama for “spending money” in this stimulus bill. We SHOULD be criticizing them for spending money that does not exist, except as mortgages on our children’s futures. It’s even more of a crime because our children will get no benefit from all of this debt– that is, they will get essentially nothing in return. Even worse, as you point out, neither will we. Government spending does NOTHING for an economy, and cannot, for every dollar it spends on what /it/ wants simply displaces a dollar spent by an individual on something they actually need.

  • Gary Gross says:

    With all due respect, Jerry, I’m not highlighting this stuff without purpose. The purpose behind my highlighting this is to highlight how much money is being pissed away without a plan.

    I suggested to a friend that they put a post together making the argument that we could pull out of this recession without spending billions of dollars.

    That post might happen later this week.

  • eric z says:

    J. Ewing and Gary — It was started with no plan and $700 billion for Wall Street and banks; plus putting the future generations in hock for deficit financing of a most improvidential war. Obama has to clean up the mess left on the White House lawn by Barney and the others in there with him before the Obama family moved in – so to speak. They were your people, not Obama’s.

    And BHO did not create the dire economy. Cheney, Bush and Paulson did that. More mop-up.

    Where to get the money? Tax accumulated wealth. Huey Long knew that would work and suggested it, and that’s probably why they shot him.

  • Gary Gross says:

    Eric, If you’re suggesting that Barney Frank helped put some of the mess on the White House lawn, I’ll buy that. He, along with Maxine Waters & Christopher Dodd, helped derail legislation that would’ve reformed Fannie/Freddie.

    That isn’t opinion. It’s part of the congressional record.

    I agree that President Bush helped create part of this mess. He’s hardly faultless.

    BHO, however, isn’t help clean up the current mess. He’s pissing away money in the so-called stimulus package on things like $200,000,000 for maintaining the National Mall, including planting grass. Think that’s gonna jumpstart the economy? If you do, you’d be part of an exclusive club.

    The stimulus bill is simply President Obama’s best opportunity to ram a huge chunk of his agenda through.

    Finally, there’s a strong probability that he’s gonna ask for another stimulus package later in the year. There’s a strong probability that BHO will add more to the national debt in his fist three years in office than GWB & Reagan. COMBINED!!!

  • walter hanson says:


    If you’re in a room you don’t set it on fire and make it worse. Even if every argument you make is right (I disagree with a large premise of your argument) than Barrack Obama has the obiligation not to make the mess any worse. He makes it far worse like setting off a fire by doing this mess.

    In 1981 we were going through a rough economic time. Ronald Reagan enacted a tax policy which will create long term economic growth and said we will have some tough times to clean up this mess, but then things will be good. In 1982 unemployment hit double digits. Than with the exception of a mild recession in 1990 caused by Saddam Hussein and a recession in 2001 created in part by the shock of 9-11 attacks we had basically 25 years of economic growth.

    So even though this economy has far stronger elements than 1981 your solution is to spend a trillion dollars plus when it doesn’t have to be sent.

    The biggest reform doesn’t cost a cent. Proper reforms in the mortage industry to end bad mortages being given and letting the companies ride out the crisis that is taking place now.

    Of course Obama wants to spend money in not cleaning that up.

    Walter hanson
    NMinneapolis, MN

  • JJ says:

    I think we need some kind of stimulus package, but I agree that we certainly don’t need any of the pork that is in some of the proposals. I hope the more conservative members of Obama’s economic team and the Republicans in Congress can help guide the discussions toward fixing what is actually broken, but without wasting taxpayer money.

    I recently saw articles on a few newspaper websites talking about how Obama was working with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to make sure that the stimulus package was smart and effective at fixing the economic problems, now and into the future. I take that as a very positive sign, since Democrats haven’t always worked closely with the business community. And with their fiscally conservative outlook, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce can help Obama and the Democrats “see the light” about what is actually needed and what would just be unnecessary costs passed to the taxpayers.

    The main points of their discussions have been making sure that the stimulus package includes tax relief, infrastructure funding, housing industry tax credits to assist homeowners, and reducing borrower & lending fees through the Small Business Administration. I agree with all four of those ideas because I think they would genuinely help the economy.

    I noticed that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is asking for input from the public to let them know which of those proposals they support the most. The Chamber can then use that data in their discussions with Obama and members of Congress. Make sure to vote in their poll here –

  • Gary Gross says:

    JJ, There aren’t any people even slightly conservative in Obama’s administration. PERIOD.

    Check back later. I’m putting a post together on more of the pork that’s getting stuffed into this Pork-O-Rama legislation.

    Don’t refer to this legislation as a stimulus package. It isn’t!!!

    If you have influence with the USCoC, tell them to withhold their support of this legislation because it pisses away money at unprecedented & unsustainable rates. What’s worse is that a majority of the things in this legislation is either PORK or is a payoff to longtime political allies…OR BOTH!!!

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