Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Giant Speaks

"Conservative giant" Rush Limbaugh gives his idea for a bipartisan stimulus plan:
Limbaugh, who has sharply rebuked the president's more than $800 billion stimulus plan and admonished congressional Republicans for not doing more to stop it, says Obama should make a "genuine compromise" with Republicans wary the bill doesn't include enough taxes and calls for too much government spending.

Instead, Limbaugh proposes that 54 percent — about the percentage of the vote Obama won in the presidential election — of the stimulus bill go to the infrastructure spending the Democrats are proposing while the remaining 46 percent go to the tax cuts pushed by Republicans.

“In this new era of responsibility, let's use elements of both the Keynesians and the supply-siders to responsibly determine which theory best stimulates our economy — and if elements of both work, so much the better,” Limbaugh told listeners Monday. “…The American people are made up of Republicans, Democrats, independents, moderates, whatever they want to call themselves, but our economy doesn't know the difference. Our economy should not be focused on whether or not one party gets reelected. This is about jobs now.”

Look, I can be a sucker for bipartisanship and cooperation. But this has to be taking it to a new level of stupidity such that even I'm not moved (to be fair, this might be Limbaugh's first effort at pretending to want a compromise, so....). The popular vote percentages that Obama and McCain received are not even remotely connected to the optimal mixture of tax cuts and infrastructure spending that should go into a stimulus package. It's at such a high reading on the stunt-o-meter it's breaking the machine.

And of course, the idea that some tax cuts might be a useful part of the stimulus is not indifferent to what types of tax relief are likely to be most optimal -- Republicans seem, to a person, solely in favor of cuts to the wealthy that will likely have the least positive impact on the economy. I'm not opposed to cutting taxes per se, but the cuts have to be targeted so as to put cash in the wallets of working class Americans -- and that ain't the estate tax or the capital gains tax.


PG said...

Actually, for a short-term stimulus, I'm willing to go with 54% of the money for infrastructure spending, 46% for "tax" measures targeted toward the people who will do the most to provide a short term jolt to the economy: poor people. The federal government should send a check to the bottom 30%, including people who don't currently have jobs and/ or recently emerged from bankruptcy (thus hopefully having discharged their debts, so they won't use the money to pay down credit cards), and watch them spend it on groceries, school clothes, long-deferred health expenditures, etc. This also will avoid the protectionist impulse that's giving economists Smoot-Hartley flashbacks. Give the bottom 30% half a billion dollars, and it's mostly going to Wal-Mart and then to China.

David Schraub said...

Like you, I don't have any intrinsic objection to tax cuts so long as they're directed at the poor and working class (i.e., the type of tax cuts Republicans don't want). But if 54/46 is the proper ratio of infrastructure:tax cut, that's just a massive coincidence.

PG said...

I think a lot of money toward "infrastructure" has created too many opportunities for spending that is not clearly linked to the stimulus. (Yes, probably including the contraceptive money for extending Medicaid to women at 200% of the poverty line; a good idea, but not clearly linked to boosting demand for good and services.) Unemployment benefits and food stamps would have the useful double effect of both stimulating the overall economy (you REALLY can't use food stamps to pay down debt), and keeping people from serious deprivation.

Jack said...

I honestly think there is no fact of the matter about what percentage of the stimulus package should be tax cuts. Or if there is, no one has any fucking clue what it should be. Its not like Obama or the Democrats have crafted some perfectly balance stimulus bill. Theres some input from economists and then it's wild guesses, political motives and bullshit. Thats not even a criticism. Just the way it works. So yeah 54-46 is totally arbitrary, but any percentage will be.

Unknown said...

On the "conservative giant" front, is that a fat joke?

I guess Bush should have only gotten 51% of the troops and resources he wanted for "teh Surge" a couple years back, then.

PG said...

On the "conservative giant" front, is that a fat joke?

It isn't on David's part, AFAIK, but now I wonder if it was a passive-aggressive one on Rep. Gingrey's.