Tepid support

So, apparently Susan Collins and Ben Nelson have been working together to trim the stimulus package. Via TPM:

Sens. Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Susan Collins (R-ME) have come up with a list of about $100 billion* in programs they want slashed from the stimulus package, according to a working draft of a staff paper outlining the cuts. The linked document includes a list of $77.9B. But an aide to Sen. Nelson tells TPMDC that the latest negotiations come closer to the $100B mark.
I am of two minds about this. I am most certainly not an economist, and I really don't have a dog in the "tax cuts vs. increased spending" hunt. Frankly, they both make sense to me, depending on your perspective, and I can see the argument for both. I wish the GOP would vote for more spending rather than demand that their viewpoint win, but I at least understand their argument. If the cuts make a stimulus package more likely to pass, then I suppose I should see the forest for the trees.

When I first saw that "state stabilization money" had gotten cut, I was worried, since I really think a large sum should go to the states, which are facing their own budget crises and don't have the option of deficit spending. However, it appears that this is an educational item. While I support education funding on its merits, I can understand that it doesn't necessarily fit tidily under the heading of "stimulus."

In general, I support most of the programs that are facing cuts. But my major hope is for passage of the package as a whole, so I will put aside my misgivings and hope that this flies.

Update: For those of you that think the GOP is just doing its noble, "dissent is the highest form of patriotism" duty, I share the following link with you. (Via Washington Monthly.)


  1. I wish the GOP would vote for more spending rather than demand that their viewpoint win

    The GOP is powerless to stop the Democrats passing any bill they choose. Democrats control the House, they have a large majority in the Senate, and the President is a Democrat. As he observed last week, "I won." So let's not blame the GOP for the failure of the stimulus bill, let's blame the lack of Democrats' backbone and poor communication skills. Surely someone can put some lipstick on the stimulus pig.

  2. John, the bill is going to pass. (Unless the GOP chooses to filibuster, which I doubt.) Doesn't mean that my respect for the "loyal opposition" has grown much.

  3. The LO is like a defense attorney in that the LO's job is to make the party in power prove their case on merits and not reply on naked political power ("I won" comes to mind here). A defense attorney can be a nasty sort, but still perform a valuable role.

    Similarly, the LO doesn't require some lofty, noble, respectable motivation. LO can be motivated by a crass "I'm not getting *my* beak wet" mindset, but if LO slow the stampede by pointing out weakness, they are doing the a good part of job. It isn't even necessary to have a better alternative. Just pointing out problems is a legit and valuable part of political debate.

    For example, one might point out that Congress stampeded to pass an massive $700B bank bailout that was deemed rush rush hurry hurry gotta pass by the prior President. Well, just how well did that work out? I seem to recall that Congress is now a bit unhappy with how all that money went to work, or rather didn't go to work. So here we have a stampede to pass a massive $1T economy stimulus that is deemed rush rush hurry hurry gotta pass by the current President. Leaving aside the fact that rush seems ill-advised considering the pace at which the stimulus will ooze out, isn't it at least prudent to ask "if it didn't work so well two months ago, why will this time be different?" and expect a convincing answer? The major players are the same, other than Mr. Obama and Tim "Tax Cheat" Geithner. Why should this time be different?