The Spectacle Blog

Such a Shame that the Stimulus Was Wasted on the Unwashed Masses

By on 9.15.10 | 1:23PM

To complement Ben Smith's lament that the public doesn't appreciate all that TARP has done for them, here is James Surowiecki arguing in the New Yorker that the only problem with the stimulus was that it was too well-designed:

Bizarre as it may seem, a less well-designed stimulus might have been more popular, and that would have made it easier for Obama to sell the electorate on his new stimulus proposals.

The logic: 

Paradoxically, the very things that made the stimulus more effective economically may have made it less popular politically. For instance, because research has shown that lump-sum tax refunds get hoarded rather than spent, the government decided not to give individuals their tax cuts all at once, instead refunding a little on each paycheck.... many voters never noticed that they were getting a tax cut. Similarly, a key part of the stimulus was the billions of dollars that went to state governments.... politically it didn't get much notice, because it was the dog that didn't bark-saving jobs just isn't as conspicuous as creating them.

So to recap: the stimulus was such an unqualified, smashing success that it was actually too successful to be comprehended by the ignorant provincials whose lives it saved, who are now, tragically, preventing their betters from bestowing them with more wonderful stimulus. 

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