McClatchy quotes investment analyst Ed Yardeni as saying that “nothing would have been better” than the stimulus package currently being rushed through Congress.” He continued, “It’s unfocused. That is my problem. It is a lot of money for a lot of nickel-and- dime programs. I would have rather had a lot of money for (promoting purchase of) housing and autos…. Most of this plan is really, I think, aimed at stabilizing the situation and helping people get through the recession, rather than getting us out of the recession. They are actually providing less short-term stimulus by cutting back, from what I understand, some of the tax credits.”
The part about stabilization is key to understanding the politics of this bill, and it relates to what I wrote about earlier this week. No matter how bad the economy is when the 2010 elections come, Democrats are going to argue that it would have been much worse had we not passed this $789 billion bill. It’s something that’s entirely non-falsifiable, since we don’t get to know what would have happened without the legislation. That’s why Obama keeps warning of double digit unemployment, 5 million job losses, an irreversible economic death sprial, etc. He wants to be able to say that he saved us from a return to the 1930s. I think the key element in all of this, is will Obama’s policies be inflationary? In a recent off the record meeting, a Republican lawmaker told me that while Bush will be blamed for the recession, if inflation comes — a very real possibility given the expansionary fiscal and monetary policies — then that will become Obama’s baby. And inflation wll put him in a very tight spot, because as we know from the early 1980s, the way to kill off inflation is by slowing down the economy.