Department of "Huh?"
Paul Krugman's take on the Geithner Plan

Washington Post Crashed-and-Burned Watch ("Bipartisan" Edition)

With the exception of the wingnuts in the neo-Hooverite caucus, both Republican and Democratic economic advisors were telling their legislative principles by late fall that a fiscal boost would be a good thing--Republican economists saying that they would prefer tax cuts targetted toward people with a high propensity to spend out of income, Democratic economists saying that they would prefer direct spending on shovel-ready projects. Barack Obama proposes a bipartisan compromise: do some tax cuts and some spending, with a 35-65 split because, after all, the Democrats won the election.

The Obama bipartisan proposal receives 0 Republican votes in the House, and 0 Republican votes in the Senate. An extremely small group of posturing senators makes the plan materially worse--reducing its likely efficacy as an employment boost by roughly 600,000 or so--and it looks as though the final passage bill will get roughly 240 Democrats and 0 Republicans in the House, and 58 Democrats and 3 Republicans in the Senate.

And what does Fred Hiatt make of the situation? This:

Bipartisanship Helped, but the Stimulus Bill Still Needs Support: Bipartisanship produced Friday's stimulus deal -- but Washington hasn't yet changed: THE $780 BILLION stimulus package deal reached by a bipartisan group of senators and the White House Friday was the culmination of a frenzied week that reflected two strains of politics. One embraced President Obama's attempt to rise above the partisan squabbles that too often have paralyzed Washington. Another made it clear that the old ways will die hard.

The gang of 20 or so moderate Democrats and Republicans, led by Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), heeded the president's call for bipartisanship and hunkered down to produce the bill announced Friday night. Though the details of the package still need to be examined, the senators' effort was an admirable one -- one that aimed at providing the quick and large injection of funds into the economy experts say is necessary, while modifying or removing parts of the bill that were too long-range or complex for an emergency bill, or which blatantly served special interests.

The effort wasn't helped by those senators, including the leadership on both sides of the aisle, who wallowed in customary blame-gamesmanship.... House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) jumped in, deriding the quest for bipartisanship as a "process argument" and claiming that potential cuts in the Senate bill "will do violence to the future."

For his part, Mr. Obama has dabbled in both arenas. Coffee, drinks and huddles with Republicans on Capitol Hill and at the White House over the past two weeks gave way this week to more partisan warnings to Republicans not to "turn back to the same tried and failed approaches that were rejected in the last election"...

Not a hint of recognition on Mr. Hiatt's part that:

  • Obama's original proposal was itself as bipartisan as anyone could wish.
  • It wasn't a group of 20 senators but rather of 10. And it never included more than 3 Republicans.
  • The senators' effort was not admirable.
  • The senators' amendments did not aim at providing a quick and large injection of funds while removing parts of the bill that were too long-range or complex or served special interests.
  • Nancy Pelosi was 100% correct when she pointed out that a "bipartisan" bill is a bill that pays attention to both parties' policy objectives--rather than a bill that Republicans vote for.

Can we please shut the Post down right now? Does anybody think this does anyone any good to read at all?