Thursday, February 5, 2009

Michael Hirsh's Hair Caught Fire

A guy named Michael Hirsch has a column in the latest Newsweek that seems to be hectoring the Republican party for Barack Obama’s failure to have not passed an economic stimulus package his first week in office, It says, “The reason Obama is getting so few votes is that he is no longer setting the terms of the debate over how to save the economy. Instead the Republican Party—the one we thought lost the election—is doing that.” Maybe this is new kind of satire or something because I’m having a hard time taking it serious. The man is saying Obama had the most votes in the presidential election so congress has to vote ‘yes’ to anything he proposes. Has Hirsh read the Constitution? Has Hirsh ever paid any attention to what happens in congress? I am hearing more and more of this foolishness out of Washington: there is an emergency so we need to pass a bill, some bill, any bill that claims to fix the emergency. It might not get fixed but friends of the guy with his hair on fire end up with a lot of tax payer money. And then after a while I begin to think that maybe the sky isn’t falling as fast as the screamers say. Sometimes I wonder if it is not just normal economic cycles and people who want money for their friends, don’t have a good case to make for it and get their friends in the media to greatly mischaracterize the economic situation to their benefit.
Some more from Hirsh:
“Obama's desire to begin a "post-partisan" era may have backfired. In his eagerness to accommodate Republicans and listen to their ideas over the past week, he has allowed the GOP to turn the haggling over the stimulus package into a decidedly stale, Republican-style debate over pork, waste and overspending. This makes very little economic sense when you are in a major recession that only gets worse day by day. Yes, there are still some very legitimate issues with a bill that's supposed to be "temporary" and "targeted"—among them, large increases in permanent entitlement spending, and a paucity of tax cuts that will prompt immediate spending. Even so, Obama has allowed Congress to grow embroiled in nitpicking over efficiency when the central debate should be about whether the package is big enough. When you are dealing with a stimulus of this size, there are going to be wasteful expenditures and boondoggles. There's no way anyone can spend $800 to $900 billion quickly without waste and boondoggles. It comes with the Keynesian territory. This is an emergency; the normal rules do not apply
“But the public isn't hearing about that all-important distinction right now. And by the time Obama signs a bill—if he can get one approved—many Americans may have concluded that the GOP is right and that the Democrats have embarked on another spending spree, as if this were just another wearying Washington debate.”
Hirsh’s main enemy seems to be a deliberative body acting under the rule of law. If this was SO important why wait for the Tueday issue of Newsweek. If there is such an incredible and dire emergency Newsweek should have sent out a Friday edition. But it is not so great an emergency that Hirsh should disrupt his regular schedule. But he feels reasoned discussion in government should take a holiday. There is something in me that says that fixing everything can’t always happen with screaming people running around in circles with their hair on fire. And the constitution placed the power of the purse in the House of Representatives and the voters have put more than a few Republicans in the House. There are also Republicans in the Senate. And they might, much to Michael Hirsh’s distress, have some input into the legislative process. Deal with it Hirsh.
Here’s an good reason to shut the Republicans up: “Proof that that Team Obama and his party are losing the debate can be found in a new poll out Wednesday. The Rasmussen Reports survey found that, even though Obama still has a very high approval rating, only 37 percent of Americans now favor the stimulus legislation, compared to 45 percent two weeks ago.” For God’s sake shut up the opposition before anyone hears what they have to say.
Look at the harm the Republicans have done already by merely asking questions: “The decisive issue here is leadership. The lack of it is what is plaguing the Obama administration. Every war needs a successful general, and this administration doesn't have one yet. Geithner is still wounded by his soul-scourging confirmation vote (he was the first tax controversy of course, barely escaping on a 60-34 vote; had his vote come after the Daschle news, it's likely that Geithner would be the one leaving town today).On Wednesday the taciturn new Treasury secretary delivered all-too-brief remarks at a meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, saying he was working to "help lay the foundation for long-term recovery, [develop] a comprehensive plan to help get credit flowing again and address the housing crisis." Sounds great, but Geithner is apparently going to wait until next week to announce a lot of this, and that seems a long way off.” Where I came from it was not considered such a bad thing for law breaking to have negative consequences. And did Geithner even have to pay the penalties and interest that is the lot of normal people? Makes me wonder why we never hear from Rahm Emanuel any more. Is he in hiding waiting for the next shoe to drop?
Some more from Hirsh: “And White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel appears shell-shocked by Taxgate and other defeats. An administration that two weeks ago set out to change the world, having claimed the first Democratic majority victory in a presidential race since Jimmy Carter, now looks like it's engaged in a Pickett's Charge—without the benefit of being led by Pickett. Meanwhile, the Senate Dems took off part of Wednesday for a "retreat."
“This is all too leisurely. Speed is of the essence now. No one understands this better than Geithner, whose formative experience as a young Treasury official in Tokyo came in watching Japanese authorities dither and muddle about for a decade after their own giant bubble of an economy collapsed in 1989”
Either we do this bill that might work today or we will take ten years to do something while the economy collapses? These are the two alternatives Hirsh sees. Even noneconomist, nonpolitical scientist little me can see other scenarios. How about we discuss this, have some give and take and bring it in in two or three weeks? Maybe the senate Dems’ day off in the midst of Hirsh’s emergency tells us exactly how grave and immediate they actually feel the threat to be. (But I have to admit I always wonder if they even care. And they know they’ll get paid since they take theirs right off the top.) In the mean time maybe Michael Hirsh can pour a pitcher of water on his burning hair.

Hat Tip/Ace of Spades

No comments: