Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Big Picture: The "Liberal" Media and The Stimulus

By The Big Picture

I'm annoyed at the work from the media right now: Mika Brezinski of Morning Joe, saying "Historically, dumping money hasn't helped the economy grow." What is she talking about? Historically, investing in education is absolutely the BEST way to ensure growth. Senator Barbara Boxer, her guest, cut her down pretty well by saying that investing in education is the opposite of 'dumping', and that history shows that government investment is the key to economic recovery, but it's all part of the smug "conventional wisdom" about spending that is so off-target. The New York Times is in on the act with two front-page articles on the stimulus which I guess I should be heartened by, but instead deeply irk me because they obsess about how much it's costing, and don't focus at all on how this will improve most Americans' lives in signficant ways. Tons of ideologically-based quotes from Republicans and none from people who will be positively affected by strengthening the social safety net and investing in health care and education.

I can't understand why spending on the recovery is now a matter of grave concern when: a)people's lives and restoring a strong economy for the future are far more important than a short-term deficit, b) it's completely accepted by everyone that this spending will actually pay for itself by helping the economy recover thereby leading to higher tax revenue, whereas the cost of inaction will lead to a worse economy and lower tax revenue, and c) no one seemed to care when we spent far more money on tax cuts to millionaires and on an unnecessary and extraordinarily costly war?!

Forget for a minute the effect on real people, and let's play on the GOP and media's preferred turf of sudden obsession with government spending. There are different ways money can leave the federal treasury. Here's the Democrats' idea for how to spend that money:
1) social spending that will improve the economy and invest in America for long-term benefit, leading to a stronger economy and higher revenues, more than paying for itself
2) unemployment relief, food stamps, and tax cuts for the working and middle class, almost 100% of which will immediately be pumped into the economy.
Republicans and the media question that, but they don't question money leaving the federal treasury for:
1) failing to act to help the economy recover, leading to worse lives for everyone, and much lower tax revenues, meaning it's the equivalent of spending! Except that it's all a loss, and everyone suffers.
2) Huge tax cuts to the people who are least likely to spend it.
3) Unnecessary wars where the money goes down a rat hole and gets very little bang for its buck, and of course necessitates huge additional expenditures in war contracting, in health care for wounded veterans, and in increasing our homeland security because the war leaves us in far greater danger.

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