Monday, February 9, 2009

laughing at the stimuli

The so-called stimulus bill may not do much for the economy, but it's certainly stimulating a lot of laughter, as its supporters are reduced to arguing essentially that it would be irresponsible not to waste boatloads of taxpayer money. We do not exaggerate.

Consider this article by Michael Hirsh of Newsweek: 'Obama's desire to begin a "post-partisan" era may have backfired. In his eagerness to accommodate Republicans and listen to their ideas over the past week, he has allowed the GOP to turn the haggling over the stimulus package into a decidedly stale, Republican-style debate over pork, waste and overspending. This makes very little economic sense when you are in a major recession that only gets worse day by day. Yes, there are still some very legitimate issues with a bill that's supposed to be "temporary" and "targeted" -- among them, large increases in permanent entitlement spending, and a paucity of tax cuts that will prompt immediate spending. Even so, Obama has allowed Congress to grow embroiled in nitpicking over efficiency when the central debate should be about whether the package is big enough. When you are dealing with a stimulus of this size, there are going to be wasteful expenditures and boondoggles. There's no way anyone can spend $800 to $900 billion quickly without waste and boondoggles. It comes with the Keynesian territory. This is an emergency; the normal rules do not apply.'

Who is this Michael Hirsh, who has elevated unrestrained spending of the people's money to a high principle? Here's his bio: 'Michael Hirsh covers international affairs for Newsweek, reporting on a range of topics from Homeland Security to postwar Iraq. He co-authored the November 3, 2003 cover story, "Bush's $87 Billion Mess," about the Iraq reconstruction plan. The issue was one of three that won the 2004 National Magazine Award for General Excellence.' The bill for 'Bush's mess' is less than the margin of error in reckoning the cost of the 'emergency' legislation about which Hirsh now chides lawmakers for 'nitpicking over efficiency.' --Wall Street Journal columnist James Taranto

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