Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Even Obama's stumbles seem lucky

It occurred to me as I was talking to Robert Rector from the Heritage Foundation about the fact that Obama's "stimulus" bill essentially eliminates the Clinton-era welfare reform that not only reduced the number on welfare but actually reduced poverty levels, that Barack Obama may actually have been fortunate to have had some procedural and personnel stumbles. Here's why.

The MSM covered Bill Richardson, Geithner's, Daschle's and others' tax problems, and then Judd Gregg, treating them as setbacks for Obama and in some cases as evidence that he was unlikely to be the transformative leader able to transcend politics and leap tall buildings in a single bound. That gave them the ability to say, in essence, "see, we're critical, we're not in the tank, we're able to report on his shortcomings." At least they convince themselves that they're tough and hardheaded. One consequence, however, is an almost complete lack of analytical interest in the "stimulus" bill and the fact that it isn't stimulative at all. Giving people who didn't pay taxes another immediate "credit" might have actually been stimulative in the classic Keynesian sense and would have routed it through low-income people, but they didn't do it, instead expanding government and stretching out the spending. To call this a "stimulus" bill is to perpetrate a falsehood. Most of the media repeat the untruth several times a day.

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