Bush outlines $140bn stimulus package

He didn’t really. He did, apparently, make this statement:

The administration said his plan would create or safeguard half a million jobs at risk from the economic downturn.

Which is an interesting warning: like anything else they’ve attemtped, the government is outling irrefutable, untestable criteria for success. This is the counter-factual problem: we’ll never see what will happen without this stimulus package, so the government is always free to claim that it would have been 500,000 lost-jobs worse, without it.

Just like the last stimulus package which, by all appearances, did practically bugger all except leave the Fed stranded with macroeconomic management for 5 years.

Mind you, he also said that a fiscal stimulus would “provide a shot in the arm to keep a fundamentally strong economy healthy” – so he’s either lying, outright, while assuming that you’re a Goddamn idiot, or he’s crazy. Or he’s been hanging out with Paulson way too much in his intellectually incurious, non-querying way. Which will come to the same thing.

I am pleased by the apparent attempts to consult the people to write and pass the laws (my word, must that have been an interesting experience for them all) – Fiscal policy is usually hindered in timely effectiveness by its own baggage, getting passed as a piece of legislation (Congress does not, no, actually grow up and act like adults when properly important Bills are floating around).

This is good:

Democrats are also pushing for an increase in transfer payments to the poor through food stamps and/or unemployment benefits – which clashes with Mr Bush’s assertion that tax relief should be “broad-based”.

(a) no, it doesn’t – any more than a business tax cut does; (b) Poorer people have the greatest Marginal Propensity to Consume. You want to boost GDP, you give the money to the people that will spend it. That means middle-income and down, first.

Less pleased with this one:

Some Republicans in Congress remain sceptical about the case for a stimulus package, and would rather stick to pressing for the Bush taxs to be made permanent.

Those people are just idiot ideologues, who – I wish with all my heart – were never even within sight of Government. Those tax cuts are (a) crap at boosting economic activity (but great at rewarding non-labour income, which only wealthier people have in significant amounts), and (b) not due to expire until 2010 – meaning that making them permanent does even more fuck-all for the macroeconomy in this recession than it did in the previous one in which they began.

The distinction between the myriad of conservatism (Christian, Fiscal and ‘political’, for a start, but Environmental – i.e. Sierra Club types, also) can wait for another day. But the myth of GOP Fiscal responsibility (or nous of any kind at all) must surely be dead by now.

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