The new dean of the Washington press corps advances the cause of economic illiteracy
This column from Dan Balz — the New Broder — is absurd for any number of reasons, but I particularly want to draw attention to this bit, which distills Very Serious conventional wisdom:
Nor is it evident that [Obama] has dealt realistically with the impact the economic crisis may have on the next president. He has not backed away from ambitious plans for a second stimulus package, for dramatically expanding health care, for reducing dependence on foreign oil or for other spending plans that long have been part of his campaign agenda.
Changing circumstances have not changed his view of what can or should be done if he becomes president. It would be helpful to voters to know now, rather than after the election, whether he will take a zero-based look at everything and rearrange priorities.
More to the point, though, the premise is stupid. The economic crisis is not reason to "back away" from a stimulus package, it’s the reason to pass one. I’ll hand over the mic to Jonathan Chait:
… the question is economically illiterate. Virtually any economists would agree that, to the extent that domestic spending makes any sense, its rationale is stronger, not weaker, during a recession. Certainly many conservative economists would oppose Obama’s spending plans under any circumstances. No economist would favor them under normal conditions but oppose them due to the recession.
Balz flays Obama because he “has not backed away from ambitious plans for a second stimulus package.” Of course he hasn’t backed away from his stimulus plans because of the recession. He came up with it as a response to the recession. That’s what a stimulus package is. Bill Clinton scaled back his plans for a stimulus package in 1993 because the economy was getting better and no longer needed it.
Very Serious conventional wisdom must be destroyed or the next president will have his hands tied and we’ll continue swirling down the climate/energy toilet.