PATRIOT 2: This Time It's Stimulating


Steve Horwitz on the "stimulus" bill:

One of the (correct) complaints about the proposed stimulus plan is that it's full of all kinds of programs that would appear to have nothing to do with any accepted economic theory about what sorts of spending could even possibly lead to recovery. The best example of this is the funds for family planning policy that are [make that were -jw] in the bill….

This isn't just your run-of-the-mill pork. What we are seeing happen right now is that Congress sees this crisis as an opportunity to enact a whole variety of programs that they've wanted to pass for years, especially (but not only) the Democrats who no longer fear a veto, and now finally have the chance. Just as the Patriot Act was a bunch of laws waiting for a political "crisis," so is much of the stimulus package a bunch of programs waiting for an economic "crisis." The current crisis is just a convenient excuse….

This is why people like [Paul] Krugman and [Brad] DeLong have to accuse their opponents of acting in bad faith: there is precious little economic evidence for the benefits of large fiscal policy initiatives. What these are really about is enacting programs and policies that people like them have wanted for years on their own supposed merits, independent of any "stimulus." The crisis is just the reason to carpe diem. So rather than a debate over the merits of particular programs, we get the language of crisis and fear thrown at us so that we'll swallow them all, whole hog, with little debate.

Read the whole thing. And watch this space: My column tomorrow will cover some similar parallels between the current crisis-mongering and the crisis-mongering of Bush's first term.