Conservatives and the stimulus redux
Incoming president Barack Obama stated he wanted a massive economic stimulus package ready for him to sign the second he took office. I pretty much thought this was symbolic at best, naive at worst. Almost immediately the second the word stimulus was mentioned, some conservative bloggers went bonkers.
Here I was, gearing up this week for a united conservative front against the Obama boondoggle, and Mitch McConnell opens his mouth. Where’s my head-banging-against-the-wall graphic again? Oh, there it is:
You’ll have to visit Michelle Malkin’s site to see the cute graphic. She’s not attacking Obama’s stimulus package, she’s attacking Republicans, or perceived conservatives, for even mentioning the idea they may support a stimulus package. Of course, a hundred readers had to jump in and and trash Mitch McConnell for the mere thought of supporting the stimulus.
I’ve got problems with this.
Primarily, we don’t have a clue what the stimulus package is. Now, there are liberal stimulus ideas, and there are conservative ideas. But, the idea of pumping cash into the economy to get it going is not new. And, it’s been proven to work sometimes. The heart of Keynesian economics is twofold:
- a reduction in interest rates.
- Government investment in infrastructure – the injection of income results in more spending in the general economy, which in turn stimulates more production and investment involving still more income and spending and so forth. The initial stimulation starts a cascade of events, whose total increase in economic activity is a multiple of the original investment.
Now, the key here in my opinion is a conservative approach to the stimulus package would be sticking closely to what Keynes originally proposed, investing in infrastructure. The beauty of that is it creates jobs almost immediately. The caveat is it creates jobs in the sector most hurt by the economic downturn, construction. In addition, you’re not bogging down the system for the future. Once the infrastructure item is complete, you can either fund a new one, or, if the economy is back to where you want it to be, not fund another project.
The liberal approach would be to pour money into services. The problem with that is obvious I think. Once you hire someone in the governmnent system, they are there forever. The caveat argued of course you can always stop funding the service. But, we all know how often that happens. Bottom line is once an entitlement is created, it never goes away. It may change names, but it will be there for eternity.
So, there are two ways we can do this. Barack Obama has never been called a fiscal conservative. I’m going to assume he’s going to stay the course he’s pursued his entire political life. People like Michelle Malkin want us to simply cede that decision to Obama. People like myself, and apparently Mitch McConnell, want to have some say-so and hopefully get the Democrats to make the right decision. I’ll worry about elections later, a growing economy means a lot more to me right now.
Additionally, there are the political implications that go a lot broader than pandering to the conservative base.. The Republicans are in a position where they are going to have to oppose a lot of things. Some of that opposition will get ugly. Mitch knows Obama’s stimulus plan will not be ready by his inauguration. It’s just too big, too complicated, and too political. Toss in the Blago ugliness, the Bill Richardson flap, the Rahm Emanuel rumors, now the Burris and Franken Senate issues, and of course the Rick Warren debacle, and I think Mitch is aware that he doesn’t have to be the bad guy right now. Obama’s doing a fine job pinning himself in. If he tried right now, he’d be fighthing a tsunami of media support for Obama. If he waits a couple of months, that tsunami won’t be so big. And, if he’s thinking like me, in six months that tsunami may be heading in the other direction when the average Joe becomes aware Obama is not the savior they painted him as.