David Brooks on the Fiscal Stimulus Bill: a sprawling, undisciplined smorgasbord

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Throughout 2008, Larry Summers, the Harvard economist, built the case for a big but surgical stimulus package. Summers warned that a “poorly provided fiscal stimulus can have worse side effects than the disease that is to be cured.” So his proposal had three clear guidelines.

First, the stimulus should be timely. The money should go out “almost immediately.” Second, it should be targeted. It should help low- and middle-income people. Third, it should be temporary. Stimulus measures should not raise the deficits “beyond a short horizon of a year or at most two.”

Summers was proposing bold action, but his concept came with safeguards: focus on the task at hand, prevent the usual Washington splurge and limit long-term fiscal damage.

Now Barack Obama is president, and Summers has become a top economic adviser. Yet the stimulus approach that has emerged on Capitol Hill abandoned the Summers parameters.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009Politics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama

6 Comments
Posted January 30, 2009 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Jeffersonian wrote:

Brooks is in a fantasy world.  The lack of discipline and outrageous profligacy are features, not bugs, of this revolting bill.  They pay off left-liberal constituencies, fund leftist projects and further Stalinize significant portions of the economy.  What’s a good collectivist to dislike?

Even Brooks himself shows he’s jettisoned principle and is just haggling over price with his aspirations for pre-K school programs at the federal level.  There’s no Constitutional authorization for Congress to meddle in this area, much less any practical reason for the federal government to do so.  God save us from “conservatives” like this pompous fool.

January 30, 7:09 pm | [comment link]
2. perpetuaofcarthage wrote:

Hi Jeffersonian,
I don’t understand your comment. Brooks is saying that the Head Start expansion doesn’t belong in the bill:

As readers may know, the policy I am most passionate about is pre-K education. Yet I fervently hope that the Head Start expansion is dropped from this bill. A slapdash and shambolic expansion could discredit the whole idea.

January 30, 7:56 pm | [comment link]
3. Sick & Tired of Nuance wrote:

Michael Steele, the most moderate of the five candidates running for Republican Party national chairman, just won the post despite not even being a member of the Republican National Committee.  That he is considered more “moderate” than Former Republican Party national chairman Mike Duncan is remarkable.

I believe that this signals a further turn to the left by the Republican Party leadership.  I also believe that it is the end of the Party.  The leadership does not understand that they needed to pull right to consolidate the base.  I know that I am no longer a Republican.  What’s the point of becoming “Democrat-lite”.  It may be less filling, but it’s awful tasting swill that leaves a bad taste in my mouth and makes me ill.

“We’re going to say to friend and foe alike: ‘We want you to be a part of us, we want you to with be with us.’ And for those who wish to obstruct, get ready to get knocked over,” said Steele.

Well, I won’t get in your way.  Goodbye and goodluck with that liberal thing.

January 30, 8:04 pm | [comment link]
4. Jeffersonian wrote:

Read again, 1928:

Fifth, new government expenditures on complex matters are being designed on a hasty, reckless timetable. As readers may know, the policy I am most passionate about is pre-K education. Yet I fervently hope that the Head Start expansion is dropped from this bill. A slapdash and shambolic expansion could discredit the whole idea.

As I said, Brooks is worried the bill will discredit federal pre-K programs, not that the federales are meddling in areas they have absolutely no business in.  He wants his big-government, it’s just that he wants it on his terms.  A principled conservative stand would be to demand Congress butt out, not that it trample the Constitution the way David Brooks prefers.

January 30, 11:27 pm | [comment link]
5. BlueOntario wrote:

The Republican Party once had room for both Charles Sumner and Simon Cameron, Robert Taft and Thomas Dewey, Barry Goldwater and Nelson Rockefeller - yes, at the same time.  While maybe in the past century the Democrats capitalized on the apparent split-personality in national elections, those were periods of great political thought and debate within the Republican Party that I believe displayed a deep passion for good governance from both camps (Cameron’s greed and Rockefeller’s spending, aside).

January 30, 11:34 pm | [comment link]
6. evan miller wrote:

The Republican Party just missed its opportunity to return to its conservative roots.  Instead, it chose argueably the least conservative of the candidates for Chairman of the RNC.  I guess they figured that since Mr. Obama won the presidency and he’s black, black politicians are now “in” and they’d better get one as their front man.  Deep thinking there.  The last thing the Republican party needs is to be more “moderate.”  Where’s Alan Keyes when you need him!

February 2, 1:31 pm | [comment link]
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