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Friday, February 08, 2008

Reid Caves Part 10 more than I can stand

Congress passes a stimulus bill without extended unemployment insurance and expanded food stamps. Economic theory says that for a one shot stimulus, money should be sent to people who are liquidity constrained (would like to borrow and can't) who will spend it quickly now when aggregate demand is insufficient and not gradually so also in the future when consumption will crowd out investment. Right wing ideology says that giving money to poor people is bad. Right wing ideology mostly won.

This is because only 59 senators voted for a more generous bill. Reid didn't want the senate to fail to pass a bill quickly. Thus he spared the Republicans the need to filibuster an economic stimulus bill. Brilliant. Best of all, he spared John McCain the need to vote and either vote against cloture and therefore anger people who would have benefited from the more generous bill and everyone who doesn't want a filubuster of a bill which must be passed quickly to make sense.

Oh and a filibuster on the stimulus would have prevented the Senate from moving on to gut FISA and pre-emptivly pardon telecom companies for breaking the law.

When the lefty blogosphere began attacking Senate majority leader Reid for being a wimp, I was inclined to defend him recalling his brilliant efforts as minority leader. Clearly part of what is going on is that herding cats is hard.

But another part is that Reid has accepted the idea that it is his responsibility to make sure that the Senate gets things done (and not so important that the things the Senate does are better for the country than doing nothing). Republicans and the media now act as if successful obstruction by the Republican minority is a failure of the Senate as a whole and thus of Reid. Now that he has made it clear that he will do anything to get bills passed, the minority is effectively the majority in the Senate.

Of course, if Reid wimped out because the senate only added 6 billion for people in need to the House of Representatives' bill, the English language has no word for what Pelosi did with a larger majority in the House in which filibusters are impossible.

update: This is what I mean

"By voting down the rebates, Senate Republicans leave Democrats with a choice: Accept the aid package without $44 billion in extra benefits, or risk being blamed for holding it up."

Click the link (via TPM). It is mostly a clear explanation of McCain's dodging responsibility for blocking cash for those who need it and would spend it now when spending is good for the economy not in the future when consumption will crowd out investment.

It concludes

"McCain's campaign plane landed at Dulles International Airport in Virginia Wednesday in time to cast a vote on the tax rebates, but he apparently decided to miss it at the last minute.

He said he had "a couple of meetings scheduled," but his campaign would not say what they were."

more articles like that please.

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