Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Stimulus 2.0
Stephen Pearlstein likes some things about the President's new jobs bill approach.
As the president explained Tuesday in his speech at the Brookings Institution, there is nothing irreconcilable about paying down the deficit and investing in economic growth. The choice between them is a false one, but figuring out the right balance is as much art as science.

It is the unfortunate reality of any recession that the burden of right-sizing the economy and industries is borne disproportionately by those who lose their jobs, often through no fault of their own, while others suffer very little. Stimulus 2.0 recognizes that it is the government's role to compensate the losers by extending unemployment benefits to those who qualify -- and provide health insurance and food stamps even to those who don't qualify for jobless benefits.

The new proposal also restores tens of billions of dollars in infrastructure spending that was cut from the first stimulus bill to make room for across-the-board tax cuts that, as some of us predicted, didn't pack much of an economic punch. The president talked a good game Tuesday about making sure that the best projects with the highest payoff will get the money. To walk the walk, however, he'll need to supplement that with a clear veto threat at the first sign of the kind of political earmarking that he's accepted in the past.

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