Friday, July 16, 2010

David Obey explains why the economy is still shitty

Rep. David R. Obey (D-WI), the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, discusses the economy and how our stupid government works in an interview lovingly titled I Leave More Discontented Than I Started.
The problem for Obama, he wasn’t as lucky as Roosevelt, because when Obama took over we were still in the middle of a free fall. So his Treasury people came in and his other economic people came in and said "Hey, we need a package of $1.4 trillion." We started sending suggestions down to OMB waiting for a call back. After two and a half weeks, we started getting feedback.

We put together a package that by then the target had been trimmed to $1.2 trillion. And then [White House Chief of Staff] Rahm Emanuel said to me, "Geez, do you really think we can afford to come in with a package that big, isn’t it going to scare people?" I said, "Rahm, you will need that shock value so that people understand just how serious this problem is."

They wanted to hold it to less than $1 trillion. Then [Pennsylvania Senator Arlen] Specter and the two crown princesses from Maine [Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins] took it down to less than $800 billion. Spread over two and a half years, that’s a hell of a lot of money, but spread over two and a half years in an economy this large, it doesn’t have a lot of fiscal power.
Lesson two today in how government works: various smart people and experts come in and lay out The Smart Plan to tell you exactly what needs to be done to fix a problem, political hacks oppose The Smart Plan on the intellectual basis of "that sounds big", elected hacks take their hatchets to The Smart Plan on the intellectual basis of "that sounds big" and the added benefit of "looking like they're doing something to justify their existence to the press and voters", and then said New, Less Smart, Less Effective Plan passes to much circle jerking and back patting..... and fails to fully address all the problems. Everyone acts surprised, yet still refuses to do anything further. Wash, rinse, repeat.

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