The Center Doesn't Hold - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
The Center Doesn’t Hold

Ross Douthat is making sense about the centrists. There is an economic theory behind massive public spending in the face of a recession of this magnitude, even if I think the evidence overwhelmingly suggests this theory is wrong. There is an economic theory behind the idea that this amounts to pouring gasoline on an open fire, the view I incline toward. But what’s the theory behind the idea we need an $800 billion stimulus package rather than a $900 billion one? It can’t be that we don’t have the money for $900 billion, because we don’t have the money for $800 billion either. The only reason can be the mindless centrism Douthat identifies: “Take what the party in power wants, subtract as much money as you can without infuriating them, vote yes, and declare victory.”

Here’s the trouble (besides the fact it will lead to the enactment of this mess): “But thanks to the centrists, we’re getting the cheapskate version of the gargantuan version: They’ve done absolutely nothing to widen the terms of debate about what should go into the bill, and they’ve shaved off just enough money to reduce its effectiveness if Paul Krugman is right – but not nearly enough to make it fiscally prudent if the stimulus skeptics are right. This means that if the damn thing doesn’t work, we won’t even know whom to blame. But it wouldn’t be crazy to start by blaming the centrists.” I’d change the “if” in his penultimate sentence to “when,” but it seems about right to me.

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