Saturday, September 1, 2012

Every 2008 presidential candidate proposed a stimulus plan--Mitt Romney's was the biggest proposal from either party!!

Was rereading Michael Grunwald's #mustread piece in Foreign Policy Think Again: Obama's New Deal and I was struck by two things early in the article:

 The economy shrank at a Depression-level rate in the fourth quarter of 2008, and job losses peaked in January 2009. After the stimulus bill passed in February, however, output had its second-biggest quarterly improvement in 25 years, and employment had its biggest quarterly improvement in 30 years. The recession officially ended that June. A Washington Postreview of Recovery Act studies found six that showed a positive economic effect versus one useful study (by prominent Republican economist John B. Taylor) that concluded the stimulus failed -- and critics noted that Taylor's data just as easily support the conclusion that the stimulus was too small.

Keynesian stimulus has since become a political football, but before Obama took office, just about everyone agreed that when the economy slumps, government can boost growth and create jobs by injecting money into the economy, whether by taxing less or spending more. In early 2008, every Republican and Democratic presidential candidate proposed a stimulus plan -- in fact, Romney's was the largest. And Republicans still use Keynesian pump-priming arguments to push tax cuts, military spending, and other stimulus they happen to support. Of course, the most powerful argument for aggressive stimulus has been the experience of European countries like Britain and Spain that have turned back toward austerity and stumbled back into recession.

First, I hadn't caught it before, but he points out that Mitt Romney's stimulus proposal in 2008 was the largest of any Presidential candidate running in 2008!  My assumption is that it was top heavy with tax cuts so there probably wasn't as much bang for the buck as one would want out of a stimulus; but still its so amazing to watch "Post-Truth campaign 2012" as Mitt Romney runs away from pretty much everything he's ever believed in.

Second, the positive impact of the stimulus on the economy is extremely clear to mainstream economists of all political persuasions, who are these Republicans that actually think the stimulus hurt our economy?  Who think that the Obama stimulus was some kind of radical socialist scheme? I mean seriously, we are talking pretty low caliber on the intellectual totem pole to mistake an Eisenhower center-right pragmatist for a radical left wing redistributionist!  I know one should not have high expectations of voters--most don't pay much attention to politics and policy; and I also know that people don't vote on policy (they don't even vote via the use of reasoning) but still I can't help but wonder who are these Republicans and how in the world do they get their information about the world?  

We truly live at a time of cultural crisis when a massive swath of the electorate is not only buying into blatant lies but is passionately disregarding basic facts with pride.

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