Friday, February 13, 2009

Public Works: Bridging the Chasm

Paul Krugman has a Nobel prize in economics and I have bupkis. And I trust his assessment on a lot of issues. Still, in today’s column in the NYTimes, he states that the CBO’s judgment is that “over the next three years there will be a $2.9 trillion gap between what the economy could produce and what it will actually produce”. I have no idea what growth numbers they are thinking of, but Krugman goes on to say “$800 billion, while it sounds like a lot of money, isn’t nearly enough to bridge that chasm”. I have to wonder if he wants bridge the chasm or fill it in with money. If we borrow $2.9 trillion, we would have all that money, but how would we ever pay it off (how will we ever pay off $800 billion, for that matter).

Meanwhile, Krugamn also complains that since Obama wanted a bipartisan stimulus bill and compromised with the Republicans, he didn’t get everything he wanted. Um, I’m pretty sure if I look up the definition of compromise, it will say something about giving up some things you want to get support from rivals (in this instance, anyway). I’m pretty sure the Republicans didn’t get everything they wanted, or even much of anything they wanted. Except that if, as Krugman predicts, the stimulus bill is not much of a success, then the Republicans can say it’s not their fault, that they helped get the bill through the closely divided Senate. But, the Republicans can say they were right all along, the stimulus, as the Democrats wanted it, was the wrong idea.

So we have learned the Republicans might be intending to continue to play the game they started a couple of years ago, with some modification. We will have to see if the Republicans can block a vote for cloture on a less important bill, which would mean that Specter and the Senators from Maine would have to vote with their Republican comrades. If that happens, it will be a long two years of blocked votes. Regardless, look for whatever RNC money there is to come into Pennsylvania, and look for a strong conservative to run against Specter in the primary.

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