Graham helps me make my mind up about stimulus (It’s bad.)

irst you might want to watch the above video, but if you can't be bothered, at least read what Lindsey Graham had to say to Democrats yesterday:

You can blame George Bush all you want to, but he didn't write this bill, y'all did. This is your bill. It needs to be America's bill. And we may get three or four Republicans to vote with you, but let me tell you what the country is going to inherit if we pass this bill in terms of substance and process. We're going to lose the ability as members of Congress to go to the public and say, Give us some money, let us borrow more of your money to fix housing, because this bill stinks.

The process that's led to this bill stinks. There is no negotiating going on here! Nobody is negotiating! We're making this up as we go! The polling numbers are scaring the hell out of everybody, and they're in a panic. They're running from one corner of the Capitol to the other to try to cobble votes together to lower the cost of the bill to say we solved the problem. This is not the way you spend a trillion dollars!

Here's the thing about this that makes up my mind on the bill he was commenting on: As he said in the interview that followed that clip at the start of the above video, Lindsey Graham believes we need a stimulus. He's not one of these GOP ideologues who opposes all spending and supports all tax cuts. And he, a very smart guy who speaks authoritatively from the sensible center — you know he'll work with the Democrats when they make sense, and stand with the rest of the GOP against them when they don't — indicts the legislation most persuasively.

Before, I was just worried about the legislation. Now, I believe that passing nothing (for now; before long something needs to pass) is better than passing the bill the House and Senate Democrats have been pushing.

54 thoughts on “Graham helps me make my mind up about stimulus (It’s bad.)

  1. jessup

    If he’s in the sensible center, why was he jumping up and down on the floor of the senate with the rest of the ideologues and not in the group of 18 that’s trying to fix this problem?

  2. Doug Ross

    You needed Lindsey to ‘splain to you that spending nearly a trillion dollars when we are already deep in debt is not a good idea?
    But what about Krugman? When he tells you we should spend even more, will you flip flop again?
    There is no easy solution to the situation that has been made worse by the government. As long as the politicians can take money from X and give it to Y, we will see these problems.
    Maybe you should read Steve Forbes ideas on possible solutions. They are centered around: a stable dollar, a vastly simplified tax code, and tax cuts.
    Start with the tax cut today. Eliminate FICA taxes. Instant boost to the economy. Then spend time coming up with a real plan to create jobs instead of a hastily crafted pile of pork.
    A vote for the stimulus bill is a vote for disaster.

  3. Doug Ross

    From NRO Online:
    From The Hill:
    How money is spent should be far from the biggest concern about the stimulus package, its chief author, House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D – Wisc.) said Friday. “So what?” Obey asked in response to a question on NPR’s “Morning Edition” about the perceived lack of direction from Congress as to how money in the stimulus should be spent. “This is an emergency. We’ve got to simply find a way to get this done as fast as possible and as well as possible, and that’s what we’re doing.”
    This is the level of stupidity running the show.

  4. Rich

    None other than Paul Krugman, the Nobel-prizewinning economist, would disagree with you. He sees the Republicans as wanting to take us back to the failed policies of the past.
    True, this bill could reach a trillion dollars and it probably will be passed over Republican objections.
    As Krugman points out, deficit spending is what is needed to prime the pump. Much of the so-called pork will go to education, infrastructure, health care–you name it! People will go back to work and state governments will get a breather.
    The government right now has only the lever of spending to keep the economic juices flowing. The private sector is paralyzed by seized-up credit and the system only functions well to the extent that goods and services are exchanged while debt continually is serviced.
    I think that the Republicans are afraid that all the social spending involved in this bill might actually work. If the American people start to see and believe that government IS the solution and not the problem, it will probably grow government and further its influence in our lives.
    We might become more like France–and that would be all to the good!
    Vive la Republique!

  5. Lee Muller

    Because the 16 Senators who are trying to reach a compromise are out of the mainstream – they started with a target of cutting the spending from $900 billion to $800 billion.
    That’s no good. That is back to the size of the bloated House bill.
    Right now, there is less than $320 billion of what Barack Obama and the Democrats originally defined as “stimulus”: roads, bridges, seaports, electrical grid, unemployment benefits, job training and tax cuts.
    The other $580 billion is leftover special interest spending that has been defeated in the last 12 years, and a wish-list from the bankrupt cities.

  6. marconi

    Forget it Rich,
    Bradley doesn’t like Paulie, or anything he represents. To him, Paul is one of those oogedy boogedy liberals who simply was endowed with the Nobel because of his great cat and his swell beard.

  7. Birch Barlow

    I attribute Senator Graham’s stance on the stimulus to the email I sent to his office yesterday warning him not to vote for this bill.
    Be afraid Amurikah… I hold considerable power.

  8. Lee Muller

    I just watched Paul Krugman on MSNBC and read his partisan attack on critics and compromisers of this spending bill in the NY Times.
    Krugman has no experience in business or banking, and his academic focus is on math models of foreign trade. He admits to not having even an academic acquaintance with fiscal policy in the US.
    So Krugman depends false history of the New Deal and every other recession and boom. He talks as if he actually believes the fabrications he is stating about the Reagan tax cuts not fixing the Carter stagflation.
    Krugman’s role is to make Obama and Pelosi look stingy, by saying we need twice as much spending. He said he only saw “maybe a billion dollars” in this bill that was unnecessary. That’s because his lust for government spending is not based on the economic conditions. Krugman has been calling for all this government spending for 20 years, in boom times and recession.
    Unemployment is 7.6% – it was higher under Clinton and there was no such panic.
    92% of Americans had some form of health insurance coverage in 2008.
    Yes, we have a financial crisis which has harmed home building, then automobile sales and other manufacturing. You don’t solve it with go-kart parks in Arizona, doubling the budget of the National Parks Service, or bailing out cities mismanaged by Democrat mayors.
    We need to be dealing with the banking crisis first. That means cleaning up FNMA and FMAC. Democrats don’t want to go there, because they created this fraud.

  9. pk

    Ol’ Lindsay, in his quest for leadership, now sez that the President has simply engaged in a month of thumb twiddling sessions JUST when the stimulus package is getting started.
    Hasn’t done a THING since the inauguration, Lindsay sez…
    Hasn’t wanted to do a THING since the auguration, Lindsay sez…
    Is AWOL Lindsay sez…
    Those meetings with centrist Senators and a mistakenly obliging tone were just vaudeville, Lindsay sez…
    So how is doing TV interviews about how Mr. Obama does TV interviews leadership?
    THAT seems more like vaudeville to me.

  10. Birch Barlow

    Start with the tax cut today. Eliminate FICA taxes. Instant boost to the economy. Then spend time coming up with a real plan to create jobs instead of a hastily crafted pile of pork.
    I disagree with this. I think it would be better to pass a law that called for a proportionate level of spending cuts to all new tax cuts and a proportionate level of tax increases to all new spending increases. Once Washington learns that there should be a direct relationship between spending and taxing, then the American people can decide if the spending is worth it coming out of their wallets.

  11. Lee Muller

    Since half the 104,000,000 tax return filers pay no net taxes, they don’t care about tax rates.
    The rates on those who actually do pay taxes will have to double in order to pay off this Democrat debt. Remember, they are proposing another $1.2 trillion in their Omnibus Spending, plus $500 billion more for TARP and $200 billion for the UAW.
    What Doug Ross and I are saying is that this extra spending dwarfs all the tax revenues, so why not just forgo the spending and suspend tax collections for a year or two? It has the same effect on the deficit.

  12. p.m.

    Yes, pk, from common sense, Obama is AWOL.
    He’s beginning to make campaign speeches from his presidential pulpit. He’s beginning to seem like a bully from his bully pulpit.
    He doesn’t understand that he wasn’t elected king.
    Etta James says his ears are too big, Beyonce had no right to sing her song, and Obama’s “not my president.”
    The coalition of have-not know-nothings is imploding as it grabs for the government’s purse.
    Rich is right. We’re becoming France. But it won’t be for the better.
    Worse than Nero’s fiddling, this stimulus bill throws fuel onto the fire.

  13. Doug Ross

    Here’s a fantastic (and short) piece by Rich Karlgaard, publisher of Forbes.
    Forbe Publisher on The Economy
    Some key points:
    – He says the problem is not a failure of
    capitalism but a failure of morality
    – “In this rotten economy many will accept Krugman’s premise that supply-side capitalism is rotten to its core, a cult filled with cranks and charlatans. But supply-side capitalism is really just a simple and benign idea: Only suppliers can supply us with goods and services; the demand side can’t will a product or service into existence, no matter how hard it tries. Society therefore advances economically when it reduces tax and regulatory barriers to the creation of goods and services.”
    His solutions:
    1) Throw the offenders in jail. Everyone from the people who took loans they knew they couldn’t repay all the way up the chain. Punish bad behavior, don’t bail it out.
    2) “Radically simplify the tax code. Pick a number–I say 15%–and have that apply as a rate for every federal tax: income, payroll, corporate, cap gains, dividends, inheritance. In other words, remove the temptation to manipulate and cheat.”
    All good common sense stuff.
    FYI, Steve Forbes was the first presidential candidate I supported as an adult. He is rock solid, smart, and pragmatic. But that doesn’t win elections. It’s who you know and who you… well you know…

  14. p.m.

    Krauthammer’s column in The State today is a masterpiece.
    With $150 million for honeybee insurance, the honeymoon is over.

  15. marconi

    Looks like PK is surrounded by some of the finest minds of the fourthteenth century on this blog.
    When a staid, rock ribbed, button-down conservative like Jeff Immelt (ceo of GE – a real manufacturing company and not a mere magazine) says that the U.S. economy is in its worst shape since the deep recession of 1974 and 1975, and if it deteriorates further can be compared to the Great Depression, any talk about NO stimulus AT ALL is an exercise in stupidity.
    But hey, just because this guy runs a company with a AAA credit rating, with ample cashflow when companies are crashing and burning at will, what does he know?

  16. Brad Warthen

    Actually, p.m., when I came in this morning I saw that Krauthammer had sent out a new version of his column later. Only one word had changed. He had changed the word “honeybee” to “livestock.”
    No explanation was given for the change. So is that still your favorite part?

  17. p.m.

    OK, Brad, I’ll take the bait.
    With $150 million for livestock insurance, Obama’s Live Aid show is over.
    Two and one-half weeks in, the rock star has become a sidekick to Pelosi and Reid.
    Sort of like being the opening act for Grand Funk.

  18. Lee Muller

    Jeff Immelt is asking for a bailout of GE Financial.
    Obama got a handful of other executives from defense contractors like GE to come lobby for his “spending bill” (his words).
    Meanwhile, over 400 economists and hundreds of CEOs took out full-page ads saying the bill will retard economic recovery.

  19. p.m.

    Think the Black Death needed a stimulus package, marconi?
    We numbskulls of the 14th century — Petrarch, Chaucer, William of Occam (remember the razon?), Marco Polo — beg to differ.
    I hear GE’s stock is in freefall. And since GE owns NBC, isn’t Immelt’s presence on Obama’s economic team a conflict of interest in the midst of the promised new day of political morality?

  20. p.m.

    Dang it, that’s razor, not razon.
    Occam’s Razor, sometimes known as the “law of economy.”
    Of multiple competing but equal hypotheses, select the one that introduces the fewest assumptions.

  21. Birch Barlow

    When a staid, rock ribbed, button-down conservative like Jeff Immelt (ceo of GE – a real manufacturing company and not a mere magazine) says that the U.S. economy is in its worst shape since the deep recession of 1974 and 1975, and if it deteriorates further can be compared to the Great Depression, any talk about NO stimulus AT ALL is an exercise in stupidity.
    Ah, the classic Appeal to Authority — brilliant use of a logical fallacy marconi. Well done. Unfortunately for your argument, there are economists on both sides of the stimulus issue.

  22. Vern

    Rochefoucault once wrote that “unless prompted by vanity, we say little.”
    Looks like these posters are very vain indeed.

  23. slugger

    We seem to have many bloggers today with one mind. The stimulus package is nothing more than robbing the rich to give to the poor. The poor do not pay taxes anyway.
    To open our mind to the fact that those that will turn our country into a socialist haven, have not only put their foot into the door but have possession of the news media. I never remember a president being on TV night and day expounding his very brilliant remedy to save our jobs and keep the country from going into a depression that could last “many years”.
    The more he talks the more we learn that he does not have a clue about how to be a president except to appear presidential.
    He tries to surround himself with cabinet members with familiar names and faces and thinking that will save his presidency from being exposed as a no-nothing empty suit that talks a good game.
    Wake up fellow Americans. Your country is being destroyed before your very eyes. If you do not believe me, just turn on your TV because President Obama will be their with his “plan” to turn our country into a third world country owned by foreign interest.

  24. p.m.

    Hey, Vern, that means Carly Simon could be singin’ You’re So Vain to Obama and Bill Clinton, know what I mean?
    And, yes, KP, I speak Ernestly.

  25. p.m.

    Hey, Vern, that means Carly Simon could be singin’ You’re So Vain to Obama and Bill Clinton, know what I mean?
    And, yes, KP, I speak Ernestly.

  26. Lynn

    Krauthammer’s column was edited for accuracy, after the initial release. There was never a provision for honeybees in the bill, in either house. He was simply passing on nonsense that hadn’t been fact checked.
    A large part of the problem has been inclusion by the Democrats of substantial tax cuts in the original bill. That was done, at least in part, so Republicans could sign off, not because it is likely to work. However, that preemptive approach gave people like Graham no opportunity to posture for the cameras, so we have this “the Democrats aren’t negotiating!” cry from them. (This is the same party that, when in power, killed legislation that many of them actually wanted if it took Democratic votes to pass, simply to deny Democrats any claim to having achieved anything. And they complain about failure to negotiate. They may call that responsible governance, but I don’t.)
    The House bill has a small percentage of things that should be removed. The inclusion of family planning in this bill, for example, was just begging for trouble, however worthy in itself. However, keeping state employees off the unemployment rolls and other provisions are extremely important.
    In short, Graham convinced me of nothing. The Democratic Party should have waited until the Republicans could chime in with self-aggrandizing rhetoric to get their 30 % of the bill as tax cuts, and claim credit for them, and the Democratic Party should have edited out the small percentage of things that are genuinely non-stimulus. These were mistakes. But, the Republicans are further endangering an already badly battered economy to feed their own egos, ideology, and partisan objectives. This is worse than a mistake. That is appalling irresponsibility.

  27. Brad Warthen

    At the risk of launching us on a pointless digression, allow me to say as an aside that you can’t just say, “The poor do not pay taxes anyway.”
    If you want to say that people who make below a certain level pay the income tax, you’d have a point. But you would not if you were talking about the payroll tax. And if you were talking state and local taxes, you’d be WAY off base. And unfortunately, people say that about state and local taxes in South Carolina all the time, and it’s a lie.
    Since rental property is taxed at a far higher rate than owner-occupied, and as we know, businesses pass on their costs to their customers, people who rent pay property taxes at a much higher rate than do middle-class folks living in their own homes. And the sales tax that our state now depends far too much upon is levied upon rich and poor. Before the grocery tax exemption, it could be demonstrated that the poor paid a larger portion of their income on sales taxes than did the well-off. I’m not sure whether that’s still the case. But I’m absolutely sure that the poor are paying taxes.

  28. Lee Muller

    Gee, Brad, when are the oh-so-concerned-about-The-Poor editors going to start a campaign to repeal property taxes, as oppressive to the poor?
    Sales taxes on consumption are the only fair tax. Of course people who spend most of their income pay a larger percentage of their income in sales tax. And those who save money are not taxed. That’s the behavior we should applaud, and encourage.
    All this huge deficit spending will debase the currency, lowering the purchasing power of the dollar. That will be reflected as price inflation.
    Currency devaluation is a tax.
    At least the base of the Democratic Party will be paying some kind of tax on every future can of malt liquor and bag of reefer.

  29. Lee Muller

    Since the feds only collect $1.2 trillion in taxes, and this pork spending bill is going to cost $1.2 trillion with interest, it would be simpler and better to just suspend tax collections for a year, and let the Productive Class bring us out of this recession in a few months.

  30. Brad Warthen

    When Lee says, “At least the base of the Democratic Party will be paying some kind of tax on every future can of malt liquor and bag of reefer…”
    … I guess we should be grateful that at least he didn’t mention watermelon or fried chicken.

  31. Brad Warthen

    On a less offensive front…
    Vern quotes Rochefoucault, and talks about OTHER people being vain…
    We’uns here on the blog reckon Rochefoucault is some kinda furrin cheese.

  32. Lee Muller

    I like watermelon and fried chicken.
    A lot of hard-working people, Republican and Democrat, eat watermelon and fried chicken.
    The Democratic Party base is non-working people – illiterates idling away on street corners at the bottom, and hustlers like Robert Reich, Rahm Emmanuel and Hussein Obama at the top.

  33. Doug Ross

    Now here’s an amendment to the stimulus bill that would be worth voting for:
    “WASHINGTON, DC – Senator John Thune today introduced an across-the-board middle class tax rebate amendment (S. AMDT #538) to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Senator Thune’s amendment would strike the entire $936 billion Senate stimulus bill and replace it with a $936 billion across-the-board-middle-class tax rebate for 182 million Americans. The amendment would result in a tax rebate of $5,143 for single filers and $10,286 for married couples who file jointly. Eligibility is capped for all tax filers at 2007 adjusted gross income of $250,000.”
    10K to every working couple. Cars would be bought, homes would be bought, home repairs would be done, and for those with upside down mortgages, it would buy time to get things under control.
    Give the money to the people if you want to fix the economy. Give it to the government if you want to see it disappear.

  34. Doug Ross

    What does watermelon and fried chicken have to do with reefer, malt liquor?
    What connection were you trying to make?

  35. Lee Muller

    A lot of economists are noticing that many indicators have hit bottom and are on a rapid rise. What’s left of the free market is working its way out of this recession.
    Yesterday, the Congressional Budget Office issued a study saying this stimulus bill…
    1. is not needed because the economy is already in recovery,
    2. only creates 1,700,000 jobs at best,
    3. costs $700,000 per job created
    4. will retard the recovery,
    5. will stifle growth in the future due to the huge debt and interest costs.
    The CBO is staffed with liberal Democrats, not libertarians.

  36. p.m.

    Wow, talk about timing, now that our Olympic hero is losing endorsements because of a video taken by one of his good-hearted friends at USC, where they retire your number and all consideration of you, too.
    Do you remember, Brad, when Fuzzy Zoeller lost his Kmart endorsement because he said something similar to your watermelon-fried chicken comment with regard to what foods Tiger Woods might choose for his first Champions Dinner at the Masters?
    I have a copy of the last driver Kmart allowed Fuzzy to endorse before he stuck his foot in his mouth.

  37. Phillip

    Brad, you picked the wrong Amigo to go with on this one…nice to see Joe L leading on the correct side of an issue for a change…a reminder that aside from his misguided-and-kneejerk-pro-Israeli ideas on foreign policy, that Lieberman is the one Amigo who does actually care about working people and people who don’t have so much. Lindsay maybe wants cover and conservative cred to try to work on immigration, and certainly Mr. Not-Sure-How-Many-Houses-I-Have seems to be trying to make up for voting for the bailout last September, forgetting that he lost the election based on the economy.

  38. p.m.

    Lynn, David Brooks mentioned $150 million in bee insurance being in the bill in an interview with Charlie Rose that I saw tonight.
    It all seems to date back to a tongue-in-cheek interview Neil Cavuto did on Fox News Thursday with a beekeeper.
    Seems the beekeeper said “colony collapse disorder” is killing his bees.
    According to the beekeper: “I have got pollinators calling me up, begging me to bring bees to apple orchards, to melon patches. I think most Americans don’t realize the role that a honeybee plays in pollinating our fruit and vegetables. And we will lose our honeybees, we’re going to be eating rice and beans.
    It was a joke. Fooled Krauthammer, apparently.
    But I still like his column.
    By the way, when you say, “But, the Republicans are further endangering an already badly battered economy to feed their own egos, ideology, and partisan objectives,” what you say is precisely true of Obama and the Democrats, in their all-fired hurry to get an orgy of Democrat funding passed and signed into law in the guise of a stimulus package before anyone can take a good, in-depth look at the bill.
    It has been amusing to watch Obama pull up his campaign act in his desperation to summon up the power he imagined he would have as president, but his fellow Democrats have not ceded to him.
    Two-plus weeks of appointing lobbyists he said he would avoid, all while struggling to find Democrats who actually paid enough taxes in a timely manner to serve in his administration, have made it painfully clear that he’s too wet behind the ears to serve as anything but a front man, the candidate Pelosi and Reid and the Democrat hempheads needed to obtain the power they wanted.
    Now they’re about to spend $0.5 trillion of our money to pay for the votes Obama got.
    The level of hypocrisy in Washington has hit an all-time high.

  39. Lee Muller

    Brad wants lower-income people paying high taxes on cigarettes, beer, gasoline, sales taxes on their cars, or property taxes on their homes.
    So I don’t take him seriously when he tries to use “the poor” as an excuse for raising income taxes on “the rich”.

  40. slugger

    The below was taken from an article written by Tim Duy, Feb. 6, 2009.
    Is this really addressing the problem of pricing? Are we not in the same boat of “if we pay too little, the bank is undercapitalized, but if we pay too much, the taxpayer holds the bag and therefore we need to nationalize”? Obviously we are in the same boat, because the new plan may cause an “accounting problem.” Like insolvency. That is, in fact, a problem, no argument from me. Apparently, though, the Administration’s solution is a suspension of accounting rules. Translation – we are going to try to hide the problem.

  41. slugger

    Afterschool Snacks
    The National School Lunch Program
    The School Breakfast Program
    The Special Milk Program, which provides free milk to children that do not participate in other Federal child nutrition meal service programs.
    The Summer Food Service Program
    The Child and Adult Care Food Program
    “Team Nutrition”, a program to provide nutritional information to children.
    State Children’s Health Insurance Program, provides health-insurance to low income children who do not qualify for Medicaid and have no health insurance.
    The Food Distribution program distributes free food to people who need it.
    The Rural Housing Service helps rural residents by providing loans and grants for housing.
    These are just a few of the programs according to Brad that is paid for by the poor with their taxes. For a complete list go to your government programs on the Internet.
    There is a check going to those that make under a given amount of money. How much you get depends on the number of people living in a household. They get this check every year.
    I am not against the poor. I have been there and done that. I just refused to stay poor.

  42. Lee Muller

    A random check of children receiving free breakfasts and lunches in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in 2008 found 91% of them to not qualify for assistance. They were cheating the taxpayers.

  43. Lynn

    PM, I think many people, including many in Congress, are looking at this bill in depth. Most Republican objections center heavily on aspects like aid to states. Some are concerned about the unemployment fund requirements. I disagree with these people. These provisions prevent loss of existing jobs, with immediate benefits to the economy as a whole, as well as to individuals who are suffering. However, I respect the fact that the people who make these points are talking about the bill itself. Graham’s objections quoted by Brad, on the other hand, have little to do with the intrinsic worth of the bill. He is just throwing a hissy fit about supposedly not being consulted enough. That is why I’m puzzled that Brad concludes on the basis of Graham’s statements that “It’s Bad.”
    This bill isn’t being pushed through so fast that many others haven’t been able to read it and comment constructively. If Graham would sit at his desk and read instead of posturing, he might be able to join them in making useful comments. In the meantime, I find Republicans complaining about not being consulted a total hoot. Graham has cooperated with Democrats on a very few occasions, but has largely followed the party line — when they were in power, they didn’t care what anyone else thought, and they were anxious to let everyone know that. They’re getting much more outreach than they were ever willing to give. But that shouldn’t be the issue on this bill — the substance of the bill should be the issue. Graham should take off his makeup, put his feet up, and start reading. He has already wasted a lot of time.

  44. Lee Muller

    78% of Americans now oppose this spending bill.
    59% want tax cuts alone.
    22% want some spending.
    – CBS poll 2/5/2009
    5% of this bill goes to roads and bridges.
    17% would be spent in 2009
    37% would be spent in 2010
    46% would be spent in 2011 and 2012
    – Congressional Budget Office report 2/5/2009
    There is no urgency to pass a bill which does not even spend money immediately.
    No one has read this entire bill.
    The Senate version was not released until 11:00 pm Saturday night.

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