Sunday, February 01, 2009

A Waste of Talent

The Obama administration is chock full of good economists. Larry Summers, Christina Romer, Peter Orzag, and many more. But yet the stimulus bill seems to be largely written by the House Democrats and, as I have noted, is perhaps more porkulus than stimulus. Money is going to favored groups/causes, money is not being disbursed rapidly, and protectionist clauses seem to be multiplying.

Now before Dirty Davey writes in to tell me that, in the US, it's Congress that makes the laws, let me say that of course it's Congress writes legislation. But Obama has the honeymoon and the sky high approval ratings while Congress as an institution is still held in fairly low repute by the public.

So I see this (so far at least) as an Obama abdication on the first big thing coming out of Washington since his election, and a sobering portent of what government by Pelosi might look like.

People, what do you think? Does Obama have no real influence on his party in Congress? Or is this the bill he wants? Do you think Summers or Romer (or both) are happy with this bill?


Norman said...

If I had to guess, and I do, I'd say Obama is giving congressional dems what they want as a way of building up favor for later. In order for him to be willing to push back, he would have to believe he'll win support for whatever he does get through from the republicans, and at this point that seems unlikely. It feels a lot like a finitely repeated prisoner's dilemma: if everyone's going to fink in the end, then we can't do any better at the beginning but to fink.

Anonymous said...

O has been prez for a few weeks, however the chairs of every committee/subcomm/ caucus, etc. has been there a loooong time. They are not going to be interested in writing someone else's stimulus bill, especially someone that they don't owe big time (my guess is that they feel like O owes them).

So the comm/sub/caucus potentates will put in what they want and say they can't support a bill without it. I think the real story here is that usually the maj party goes to the min party ranking member to ask what they would like in order to get they buy in. However, the Rs are so marginalized that the Ds didn't even talk to them, ever. This is a huge story that was missed when the Rs went marching off after not voting for it with they new found fiscal backbone.

My guess is that Senate will put what they want in it next week, then send it back to the House. Then O will take the parts of the bill he likes and implement those asap, and send the parts he doesn't to some under, assistant, junior secretary for bag holding to take care of - where they will disappear.

Don't worry though, budget season is just warming up, and O will get another crack at this.

Anonymous said...

Didn't Obama promise to use the mystical powers of The Presidential Line-Item Veto to cut pork?

Theo of Norway