Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The "Message"

At what point do you start disregarding facts entirely and start arguing about made up stuff? The farcical national conversation about the Stimulus could be "Exhibit A."

For what it is worth, the Stimulus was a disaster - a political disaster, especially for Democrats and Keynesians. Facing a looming economic catastrophe as our nation's people collectively maxed out their personal debt financed by banks who were maxing out theirs, the government had to spend money it didn't have to avoid getting us into a depression. That money combined with the vaporization of several trillion dollars in Monopoly-money wealth our nation didn't actually have to create some pretty gnarly budget deficits and government debt.

But, instead of hammering home each stimulus need individually (we need $200 billion for infrastructure - who doesn't like planes, trains, and automobiles?; we need $100 billion for schools - who doesn't think children should read?; we need $2 billion for alternative energy sources - who doesn't want cheap, renewable energy? etc.) the brainiacs in charge decided to completely ignore political reality, lump everything together and not talk about it.

Opponents were suddenly free to parade the words "omnibus" and "stimulus" around while waving the total price tag aloft, declaring we were getting this money from "our children." They found endless anecdotes and examples of "pork." Some were real, some were made up, and some were actually valuable government programs that monitor things like floods. It didn't matter what it was, there was so much in the bill it forced most Americans to rely on the lazy media to tell them. We all know how that turns out.

Now, a media-savvy Democratic Congress could have owned the news cycles and won political victories for two straight years just passing parts of the whole. They probably could have got more money for the big stuff, too. All those folks who later argued "the stimulus didn't work because it wasn't big enough," political problems in their own right, simply didn't understand how to gain political support to justify those additional expenditures.

But, noooo, Nancy Pelosi had a chance to destroy the GOP opposition on a host of issues the majority of Americans already agreed with her about and decided instead to do it in a way that actually turned Americans against the program, the party, and drove them into the waiting arms of a "Tea Party" ready to capitalize off the cultural and economic panic being felt across the country. GOP governors across the land decried the bill while taking the cash, and never paid a political price for it. Why would they? They were counting millions while the "Stimulus Ins't Big Enough" crowd took to the Op-Ed pages of the New York Times and got busy telling Americans the stimulus didn't work and that they needed more money.

That moment of decision, when the Democrats decided they didn't need to convince the American voters to agree with them, was when they lost the national argument over how to do something about the economic collapse. That was the moment they decided they would never get another chance to use Keynesian theories to save this economy, and that they'd never get a political chance to recover until the GOP allowed them to have one. That was the moment they assumed blame for the "stimulus didn't work" narrative, and they are still paying for it today.

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