Economics

Treasury Secretary Says Stimulus Plan Is Hopelessly Inadequate

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Between 1991 and last fall, the Japanese government spent $6.3 trillion on myriad construction projects in an attempt to revive the country's sluggish economy. According to a front-page story in last Thursday's New York Times, Japan "accumulated the largest public debt in the developed world—totaling 180 percent of its $5.5 trillion economy—while failing to generate a convincing recovery." Many economists, the Times notes, view this "stimulus" spending as a "colossal waste" that "did little more than sink Japan deeply into debt, leaving an enormous tax burden for future generations….Among ordinary Japanese, the spending is widely disparaged for having turned the nation into a public-works-based welfare state and making regional economies dependent on Tokyo for jobs."

But Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner draws a different lesson. As the Times paraphrases his position, "Japan's experience suggests that infrastructure spending, while a blunt instrument, can help revive a developed economy." The problem, according to Geithner and other advocates of stimulus spending, is that Japan spent too little money too slowly; wasted a lot of it on useless projects (including more than a few bridges to nowhere); and did not spend enough on education and social services. "One lesson Mr. Geithner has said he took away from that experience," the Times reports, "is that spending must come in quick, massive doses, and be continued until recovery takes firm root."

Leaving aside the (rather important) question of whether Geithner is right, the implications for the "recovery" package making its way through Congress right now are pretty clear: There is no way it can possibly work. The amount of money involved, not quite $1 trillion, is huge, but it pales in comparison to what the Japanese spent, and much of it will trickle out over several years, rather than "in quick, massive doses." Furthermore, given public skepticism of the current package, Congress is quite unlikely to authorize another $1 trillion, then another, and then another, if necessary, "until recovery takes firm root."

It's awfully convenient for stimulus supporters that every time a government has tried to spend an economy out of a recession, the failure was due not to the fundamental unsoundness of this approach but to poor timing, inadequate funding, and/or bad investment decisions. But even if they're right, there's little reason to believe these factors will not doom the current plan as well.

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  1. I think I like where this is going… soon I’ll be able to take a government funded high speed rail line from my government owned house to a government sponsored music festival and pay for it all with my unemployment check…

    I LOVE AMERICA!

    Or maybe I should sell my house while it’s still worth something and buy guns and some fertile land in the hils… decisions, decisions…

  2. These fuckers.

    So they’re already setting up the groundwork to ask for more money when this bullshit stimulus fails to “revive the economy.”

    I think Reinmoose coined the phrase of the day:

    I’m tired of this horseshit.

  3. I am getting the overwhelming feeling that I am being ruled by lunatics. Does that mean I’m the crazy one?

  4. “One lesson Mr. Geithner has said he took away from that experience,” the Times reports, “is that spending must come in quick, massive doses, and be continued until recovery takes firm root.”

    Boy, is that ever a recipe for disaster.

    Stimulus not working yet? Spend more money! Faster!
    Still not working? Spend More!!! Faster!! Still not working? SPEND MORE! FASTER!!!

  5. “You’re just not hitting it hard enough!”

  6. What is so seriously wrong with these people? I mean, do they really think the devil is in the minute details and not in the theory itself?
    If you want to give a billion dollars to Amtrak, go and give a fucking billion dollars to Amtrak – but don’t include it in a “stimulus’ bill. Heck, don’t even argue the relative merrits of it. But holy shit, don’t make it sound like it’s necessary to get us out of a deep recession, or even the best way to spend one billion dollars toward that end.

    Everyone who’s lived anywhere ever knows that it takes 20 years to develop a single light rail or bridge project on an existing corridor… If they’re going to spend money on a project, I at least want to see the results of the project, not a massive subsidy to a group of people who conduct environmental analysis for projects.
    Yeah, I know – everything getting money this time is “shovel ready”
    Like hell it is.

  7. something i think is funny is that it’s rigged so that they spend until the “recovery takes root”. how are we supposed to know when that happens? krugman blames the depression within a depression of 1937 on the fact that government tried to balance the budget and stopped spending. that was seven years after hoover started spending and five years after fdr upped the ante and spent more. at what point was the private economy supposed to take over from the public and how was the public supposed to know so they could stop spending? maybe the reason the economy collapsed again in 1937 was because the growth we saw up to that point wasn’t really growth. maybe it was just propped up by the government. so if keynesian economists believe the economy could collapse again because of a retreat of government spending, they’ll never cut back. it kind of goes against summers’ “temporary” requirement, doesn’t it? it’s rigged so it can’t be temporary.

  8. What ever happened to bad economic times meaning that people tighten their belts. Things like, eating leftovers instead of tossing them the next day, putting a sweater on instead of expecting your house to be at 72* all winter, giving up the cellphone & cable-TV service till times get better…you know, simple things that involve USING YOUR WITS TO SURVIVE!!

  9. something i think is funny is that it’s rigged so that they spend until the “recovery takes root”.

    Of course. Think of where we were a number of months ago before the mortgage crisis really blew up, and most people’s considerations of government spending. Think where we are now. Light years. And they keep going farther every week.

    “Why can’t I stop the spending?”

    “Because I cut the brakes! Wildcard, bitches! YEE HAW!!!”

  10. This is a thought I just had, that I’m sure many of you have had already, but is it possible that our government has just decided it would be easier to spend spend spend, go bankrupt, and start all over than it would be to work towards balancing a budget and avoiding crisis.

    I can understand deficit spending during a recession, but once it has passed can you really expect any republicans or democrats to have a balanced budget? Republicans will continue to cut taxes without cutting any gov’t and democrats will raise taxes almost as fast as spending.

  11. a massive subsidy to a group of people who conduct environmental analysis for projects.

    Can you say, “constituency”, Energized?

  12. But NAL – those things would cause people to lose JOBS! And JOBS are the only measure of wellbeing that we use in this country! What are you a commie or something?

  13. This is pretty much a standard CYA maneuver in my opinion. If it works, its genius. But when it doesn’t work, we told you so.

    The biggest omission the NY Times article and the MSM have made with the comparison to the Japanese stimulus experience has been the source of the debts. Japan’s government for the most part borrowed the vast majority of their stimulus loot from themselves, from their own savings.

    With the USA “stimulus,” we will be borrowing from foreigners, including, ironically, those same Japanese savers. That really changes the dynamic there, and is something we willfully ignore in these comparisons.

  14. Everyone who’s lived anywhere ever knows that it takes 20 years to develop a single light rail or bridge project on an existing corridor…

    The RailRunner now going from Belen to Albuquerque to Santa Fe only took a couple of years to complete. It included both existing tracks from Belen to Albuqueruqe and new tracks to Santa Fe.

  15. Stimulus! Apply directly to the forehead!

  16. New Zealand it is!

  17. I don’t really trust the people involved, but this explanation makes a lot of sense when you think about it.

    See my coverage of the stimulus plan for lots more:

    * CBO said – w/o the plan – we’d have a “slow recovery” in 2010
    * Where are we going to get all those raw materials from?
    * A “hidden” cost of an additional $523 billion?

    I guess actually going out an embarrassing politicians on video is starting to look good right about now.

    What’s that you say? Reason would rather have a massive trillion dollar scam than go out and make politicians angry at them? Oh.

  18. Why can’t LoneBonehead be OCD about something more interesting? Like furries or cosplay?

  19. Leaving aside the (rather important) question of whether Geithner is right

    I don’t see how you can set aside this question. If you believe Geithner is right then it would lead you to be incensed at the types of cuts the Republicans have obtained (as reported in various outlets). If you believe he’s wrong you would be incensed that the Republicans didn’t succeed in excising even more.

    Operationally speaking, your entire outlook on the stimulus negotiations depends on whether or not you believe Geithner is right.

    I recognize that leaving aside the question allows you your final paragraph — “either way, this probably won’t work” — but it is a lazy rhetorical ploy.

  20. Yep, there’s going to be another stimulus bill after this one. You’re not going to like that one, either.

    And you’re not going to be able to stop it.

    It’s awfully convenient for stimulus supporters that every time a government has tried to spend an economy out of a recession, the failure was due not to the fundamental unsoundness of this approach but to poor timing, inadequate funding, and/or bad investment decisions.

    It’s awfully convenient for stimulus opponents that every time the government has stimulated us out of a recession (did you know there was no period when GDP declined for two consecutive quarters under FDR?), the recovery had nothing to do with the stimulus, and was totally going to happen anyway, precisely when it did.

    But neither of those are anywhere close to what the agnostics get. You want convenient? How about the fact that neither conclusion can be definitively proven, nor definitively refuted?

  21. Clinton took off the panties, Bush greased up the cock and Obama’s going to shove it straight in the ass.
    This country is fucked.

  22. What’s that you say? Reason would rather have a massive trillion dollar scam than go out and make politicians angry at them? Oh.

    You are obviously in touch with a reality no one else can see, please share more of your profound insights.

  23. The RailRunner now going from Belen to Albuquerque to Santa Fe only took a couple of years to complete.

    Boolah boolah!

    I assume they’re planning to run a spur to Taos, for the turistas. How much does it lose per passenger mile?

  24. Joe, what about the debt?

    Is the plan really to have hyperinflation to monetize the debt?

  25. “…spending must come in quick, massive doses, and be continued until recovery takes firm root.”

    When I read this, I imagine a small tomato plant wilting a little bit, and Geithner running in with a firehose…

  26. The definition of success will be roughly when poverty has been eliminated. We can’t stop spending until the country is a perfect utopia where everyone has a job and a car, and unlimited health care. Cutting spending is just like stealing from poor people, don’t you know?


  27. Is the plan really to have hyperinflation to monetize the debt?

    In the long run, we’re all dead. Just don’t worry about it.

  28. When I read this, I imagine a small tomato plant wilting a little bit, and Geithner running in with a firehose…

    This is how I managed to kill my rose bush a couple of years ago.

    Roses don’t take kindly to overwatering or overfertilizing. They’re hardy plants but you can kill them with excessive care.

  29. Neu Mejican,

    They started getting serious in 2003; Phase I was finished in the summer of 2006; Phase II was complete in 2008. So roughly five years in all. And of course this doesn’t deal with all the discussion that went into the project prior to 2003.

  30. did not spend enough on education and social services.

    Just by coincidence, Geithner is pushing for even more subsidies for two of the Dems most important constituencies – teacher’s unions, and government employees.

    Just by coincidence.

    The flaw with infrastructure spending isn’t that it is too slow, its that it doesn’t really target hard-core Dem constituencies, you see.

    This is definitely a stimulus bill. The mistake is in thinking it is supposed to stimulate the economy. Its really supposed to stimulate the Dem base. And as they refine it further, it probably will.

  31. ISN’T IT OBVIOUS?!?!?!? The solution to both problems: a Bridge To Japan!!!

    We can meet halfway, and right before we join the last link, we can pour into the Pacific whatever pathetic remnants of our combined GDP remain. And Geithner Sensei.

    Sploosh!

  32. * Where are we going to get all those raw materials from?

    I’m hoping from the companies I’ve just invested in. Construction materials and commodities are in the tank right now; there are some real bargains to be had.

  33. Epi –
    don’t give SugarFree the idea to start posting links to cosplay again. I could barely handle it last time.

    And in all seriousness – it takes a lot more abstraction to claim that by *not* passing a massive stimulus as quickly as possible that we’re hurting people, as opposed to punishing the savers, renters, and those who choose to pay off the debts they’ve already incurred instead of spending on new ones through methods that you absolutely KNOW will cause inflation. I nearly flipped a couple of weeks ago when I saw a talking head refer to moral hazzard as thinking about “how can we not fund X important thing?”

  34. In the long run, we’re all dead. Just don’t worry about it.

    “Crap; I guess I left my wallet in the car. You get the tab, and I’ll make it up to you next time.”

  35. In the long run, we’re all dead.

    In the short run, we will all be dead broke.

  36. R C Dean: Bingo.

    And I chuckle at the idea that increased spending on social services leads to economic health. Yes, that’s why all the most economically vibrant neighborhoods in the country are the ones where there’s the most spending on social services.

  37. Construction materials and commodities are in the tank right now; there are some real bargains to be had.

    Dude, commodities speculation is so last year.

  38. joe,

    …(did you know there was no period when GDP declined for two consecutive quarters under FDR?)…

    And of course correlation does not equal causation. Or so the agnostic would say.

    Still, I’m really not quite sure why one should be apologetic for being a freshwater or saltwater type. In other words, what is exactly your point?

  39. I want them to spend a quadrillion dollars. That way, either they are correct and we get more stimulated than Vincent Gallo thinking about his own talent while looking in the mirror, or it proves that stimulus is bullshit no matter how much money you throw at it.

    And if it’s the latter, wasting a quadrillion dollars will probably be greeted warmly as a cause for imprisonment…or worse. For everyone in Washington.

  40. Seward | February 9, 2009, 12:14pm | #
    Neu Mejican,

    They started getting serious in 2003; Phase I was finished in the summer of 2006; Phase II was complete in 2008. So roughly five years in all. And of course this doesn’t deal with all the discussion that went into the project prior to 2003.

    Yeah, my “couple” should have been “few,” but the Rail Runner is an example of a what “shovel ready” project might look like. If a project is in the place Rail Runner was in 2003/4, the money wouldn’t take 20 years to get spent. It would go directly to construction of the project.

    The concept of a shovel ready project is not a fantasy.

    Whether this bill does anything to find and fund them is another question.

  41. …(did you know there was no period when GDP declined for two consecutive quarters under FDR?)…

    You might not want to pick THE DEPRESSION for the ‘good’ economic stats that ‘prove’ you right.

  42. She just don’t have the appetite
    For gas somehow,
    And Dad, I got four carburetors
    Hooked up on it now.
    I tried to hook another
    To see if I’d do a little good,
    But ain’t no place to put it
    ‘Less I perforate the hood.

  43. Joe, what about the debt?

    We’re going to need to pay it off during the good times. Let’s all try to remember how bad we feel about that debt right not, and get all silly about “Reagan proved that deficits don’t matter” the next time the government runs a surplus.

    Seward,

    And of course correlation does not equal causation. Of course. Although a lack of correlation goes a pretty long way to refuting an assertion of causation. *Glares long at hard at Amy Shlaes*

    In other words, what is exactly your point?? Merely that the “it’s awfully convenient” argument cuts both ways.

  44. Your government has no credibility, except among the true believers.

    Say buh bye to it.

  45. “We’re going to need to pay it off during the good times. ”

    What if the “good times” don’t come? Everyone is saying this could last for years.

  46. “and get all silly about “Reagan proved that deficits don’t matter” the next time the government runs a surplus.”

    I don’t think we ever need to worry about the government running a surplus ever again if $2 trillion in spending (TARP + “stimulus”) is just the beginning, as you say.

  47. The concept of a shovel ready project is not a fantasy.

    Perhaps, but the concept of a shovel-ready project actually stimulating the economy, however…

  48. You might not want to pick THE DEPRESSION for the ‘good’ economic stats that ‘prove’ you right. Oh, I think I will

    http://www.ourfuture.org/blog-entry/2009020603/fdr-failed-myth

    Those trend lines seem pretty convincing to me.

  49. What if the “good times” don’t come? Everyone is saying this could last for years.

    Then the good times come in ten years.

  50. “Then the good times come in ten years.”

    In the meantime, we have USSR-style national bankruptcy from the debt.

    This whole thing is a risky scheme.

  51. I don’t think we ever need to worry about the government running a surplus ever again if $2 trillion in spending (TARP + “stimulus”) is just the beginning, as you say.

    TARP = $0.7 trillion. Stimulus (no scare quotes, thanks) = $0.8 trillion.

    Total $1.5 trillion.

    I don’t think 2 trillion is “just the beginning.” I think it’s just about where it’s going to end up.

  52. P Brooks,

    Boolah boolah!

    I assume they’re planning to run a spur to Taos, for the turistas. How much does it lose per passenger mile?

    It runs at a modest deficit, iirc…but I haven’t seen it broken down by rider-miles. Ridership is exceeding projections so far (between 5 and 10 thousand riders a day).

    No plans for it to go to TAOS, that would make no economic sense at all. Very expensive to build, and not enough volume.

  53. In the meantime, we have USSR-style national bankruptcy from the debt.

    Oh, ok. Just as long as you’re not “scaremongering.”

    People around here HATE scaremongering.

  54. Since stimulus can be neither proven nor disproven, how about we not do it and avoid the debt.

    Maybe we get a short term fix? Maybe not. Lets not fuck up the mid and long term.

  55. …the next time the government runs a surplus.

    Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!11!!1!!!!!

    Yeah, that will even happen…

  56. It’s awfully convenient for stimulus supporters that every time a government has tried to spend an economy out of a recession, the failure was due not to the fundamental unsoundness of this approach but to poor timing, inadequate funding, and/or bad investment decisions.

    If the Japanese had only put the right people in charge the recession would have only lasted a year. Fortunatelt, we have those folks working in the Obama administration so there is nothing to worry about.

    … and did not spend enough on education and social services.

    As we’ve all observed the huge uptick in K-12 education results since the feds started throwing hundreds of billions at the problem since 1980.

  57. This thing has stupid written all over it.

  58. I don’t think 2 trillion is “just the beginning.” I think it’s just about where it’s going to end up.

    Tarp2 discusses are suggesting $3T more. That puts us at $4.5T. Hopefully T2 cant pass, but if it does too, hard to stop at less that $2T. 🙂

  59. What is “awfully convienent” is that liberal Democrat’s ideas about “stimulus” plans is no different than their ideas have always been:

    use government to steal wealth from the people who earned it and to whom it legitimately belongs to give it to some other people who didn’t earn it and have no legitimate claim on it.

    Because of course, they are the party of the sponge, leech and parasite class and their objective is to expand that class as much as they possibly can.

  60. Yeah, that will even happen…

    shudder.

    Lets reanimate Andy Jackson and stick him back in the White House.

    shudder.

  61. P Brooks,

    It seems projections for the Rail Runner are for less than 10 million per year in deficit.

    This, of course, doesn’t factor in the reduced cost to 1-25 expansion/maintenance.

    Calculating costs/benefits of any transportation system needs to take a systems view. Whether the state spends money on roads or rail, transportation infra-structure is typically seen as a boon to economic development in an area.

    No?

  62. “People around here HATE scaremongering.”

    I’ve never made any accusations of scaremongering.

    Anyway this may work, it may not. But if it doesn’t, we’re in big trouble. It’s a risky spending scheme.

  63. Eh, sorry for channeling Al Gore there.

  64. The RailRunner now going from Belen to Albuquerque to Santa Fe only took a couple of years to complete. It included both existing tracks from Belen to Albuqueruqe and new tracks to Santa Fe.

    And turns a profit? Or just another yuppie boondoggle? Link requested.

  65. Yo, fuck Timothy Geithner. Fuck him until he ruptures.

  66. J Sub D,

    I think all you need is available in the above comments, plus google. Their is a RR website.

  67. It seems projections for the Rail Runner are for less than 10 million per year in deficit.

    This, of course, doesn’t factor in the reduced cost to 1-25 expansion/maintenance.

    Or the reduded gas taxes paid.

  68. J Sub, when is light rail (outside of the Northeast cities) ever NOT a yuppie boondoggle?

  69. Neu, I should have read down before asking. Like most AMTRAK routes, it’s a yuppie boondoggle.

  70. joe,

    The name is Amity Shales.

    Although a lack of correlation goes a pretty long way to refuting an assertion of causation.

    Unless the economy was never going to recover from the 1929-1932 downturn any claims about what FDR’s policies did or did not do have to take into account the natural recovery that was underway by the time FDR was in office. Furthermore, the economic performance of the time also has to take into account the screw-ups which the administration of FDR undertook; wage and price controls being one of many.

    Merely that the “it’s awfully convenient” argument cuts both ways.

    Basically the only country and the only time period that I see batted around as an exemplar of what counter-cylical policies can do is the U.S. during the 1930s. Now why is that? Because for time periods where we have better economic data – and if the governments of the world did anything during the Great Depression it was to create methods and means by which to accumalate and trace such data (see, I wrote something positive about FDR’s administration) – we have yet to see any clear cut examples where such policies lead to worthwhile results.

    That could mean a couple of things. It could mean that the U.S. experience during the 1930s was an odd outlier which will rarely if ever repeat itself. Or it could mean that much of what is trumpeted about that experience is so much hagiography. It could also mean some other things too.

  71. If you create artificial markets for goods and services or overpay for them in the spirit of “stimulus,” does anyone here (including our resident moderates/democrats) think we’ll ever be able to go back to a real market rate for those goods or services?

  72. And J Sub D,

    Government projects are typically not “for profit” ventures.

    Hardly seems like that should be the criteria for this kind of project.

    The costs/benefits outcome should be reasonable, of course, but profits don’t seem to be the final arbiter of a government project’s worthiness.

    And I don’t think that most people would consider that profit should be that arbiter.

  73. It’s like Wimpy asking for a trillion hamburgers because he will be able to pay you back even more 10 years from now.

  74. less than 10 million per year in deficit.

    Is that operating costs, or does it include infrastructure and other overhead? Would you invest your own money in a company which proudly proclaimed, “And look- we only lose ten million bucks per year; aren’t we special?” Or would you just force other people to “invest” in it?

    Who rides this train, and why? I do not *recall* any noteworthy flow of commuters between Santa Fe and Albuquerque.

  75. joe,

    Actually, the Fed has thrown around a trillion to a trillion and a half by itself if I recall correctly (it hasn’t been all that well reported as far as I can tell); so we are in the 2.5 to 3 trillion dollar range.

  76. it’s a yuppie boondoggle.

    It would be incorrect to characterize the riders from Belen and Los Lunas as yuppies…and then there are the riders from the Pueblos. You really don’t know wtf you are talking about on this one.

    A working public transportation project will serve people across economic boundaries, with those at the lower end benefiting the most. And, so far, the Rail Runner seems to fit that model.

  77. It’s like Wimpy asking for a trillion hamburgers because he will be able to pay you back even more 10 years from now.

    I was thinking it was more Bluto ramming a can of spinach into Popeye’s ass and claiming that since spinach stimulates Popeye, ramming a huge can of it up his ass will work great.

  78. P Brooks,

    Last time I heard a figure there were 70,000 commuters a day between SF and ABQ. And almost as many between Belen/Los Lunas and ABQ.

    The 10 million would include all costs, iirc.

    As for the profit thing, see my response to JsubD.

  79. “You’re just not hitting it hard enough!”

    You think Geitner is projecting his relational problems upon the nation?

  80. Neu Mejican,

    The costs/benefits outcome should be reasonable…

    They should be more than reasonable I would say. The benefits should obviously outweigh the costs, otherwise it is simply a waste of resources. One can call that “profit” or use some other signifier.

  81. I wonder if they’re still talking about building the Maglev between Pittsburgh and… well, Greensburg, Pa.

    I imagine that one’s been shovel-ready for years…

  82. The local paper suggesting burying the power lines in Kentucky as a “shovel-ready” project.

  83. Let’s just build monorails everywhere. As joe and NM have shown, it doesn’t need to be profitable, it just needs to be infrastructure. Which, as we all know, is stimulative and will pay back its value in 10 years.

  84. Seward,

    One can call that “profit” or use some other signifier.

    The concept of “profit” or whatever, however, like I said above has to involve the whole transportation system, not just the particular project.

    So the question would have to be:

    “Does NM’s transportation spending provide a big enough benefit for its cost?”

    NOT

    “Does the Rail Runner pull a profit?” or “Does the cost of a ticket cover the cost of operating the train?”

  85. How do you quantify its “benefit” then?

  86. Neu, congresscritters have been proclaiming for fuckin’ decades that AMTRAK will be self sufficient or cut off. The cutoff never happens, but the lie is consistently told.

    They’ve had the wrong idea about rail all along? It’s supposaed to lose money?

  87. BDB,

    Quantifying benefits is, indeed, one of the major challenges for any community. Quality of life is a difficult aspect of the calculation. Figuring out how much the time saved by commuters is worth is also difficult. How much value do you get out of the work that is done on the train that couldn’t be done while driving? Also hard to calculate.

    This is why we have a political process…the community gets to decide if the costs/benefits are worth it. It is a messy process, but it is the best we’ve got.

  88. What about the debt?

    No worries. We’ll just have to pay it back it the good times.

  89. They’ve had the wrong idea about rail all along? It’s supposaed to lose money?

    Their mistake is considering it in isolation from the rest of the transportation system.

    Do we lose more money on rail than roads in the US? I don’t know for sure, but I kinda doubt it.

  90. J Sub D –
    Like convention centers?

    I think that the benefits are being qualified in the current stimulus as basically “not having people rioting in the streets and forming groups to overthrow their governments”

  91. “Do we lose more money on rail than roads in the US? ”

    Roads are paid for by gas taxes, which are very close to a user fee. Raise the fare rate of using light rail to what the average motorist pays in gas taxes per trip and I’d be more willing to support it.

  92. Of course if you raised the fare that high, fewer people would ride it.

  93. I recall a very interesting survey done in the Bay area, relating to BART.

    A large number of resondents said they voted for BART in the hope that “other people” would use it, thereby freeing up the roads for an easier commute.

    You know- “If those damned poor people would just get out of my way…” Not that that would *necessarily* make it a yuppie boondoggle.

  94. Inflation is a remedy like homeopathy. No matter how many times it fails, there will always be true believers pushing it.

    -jcr

  95. “J sub D | February 9, 2009, 1:07pm | #
    Neu, congresscritters have been proclaiming for fuckin’ decades that AMTRAK will be self sufficient or cut off. ”

    It IS profitable in the northeast. Which is the only place it should exist.

  96. BDB,

    In theory governments do a lot of things to mimic the information clearing, etc. benefits of the price mechanism; and that’s how they determine what is and is not a “benefit.” Of course, it is a lot harder for them to aggregate, etc. the subjective value considerations of citizens than it is for the market to aggregate, etc. the subjective value considerations of buyers and sellers.

    Then of course there is public theory to contend with, which paints a somewhat less disinterested picture of how government works.

  97. BDB,

    Er, public choice theory.

  98. And I don’t think that most people would consider that profit should be that arbiter.

    Of course not, I pay taxes out of goodness of my heart, i don’t care if it actually is worth me working to pay my taxes. Someone is benefiting from it, and we will be forced to continue to pay for that benefit which they receive unearned.

    I wish all taxes went to buy fireworks, so then everyone could see their money go up in smoke together. For the common good!

  99. BDB | February 9, 2009, 1:10pm | #
    “Do we lose more money on rail than roads in the US? ”

    Roads are paid for by gas taxes, which are very close to a user fee. Raise the fare rate of using light rail to what the average motorist pays in gas taxes per trip and I’d be more willing to support it.

    Drivers are among the primary beneficiaries of commuter rail lines.

    As for the gax tax to rate thing.

    Assume an average car with around 25 mpg…3 gallons, about $1.10 in state gas taxes. I think the fares are already higher than that.

  100. I think a lot of opposition to light rail and buses is that municipalities put the cart before the horse in too many cases.

    It should go like this: Light rail is needed in an area, it’s built, people use it for its superiority to the car, highway and other car-supporting funds are cut. Too often it’s: An area wants light rail because successful areas of the country have light rail (causation fallacy), area builds light rails despite no one wanting to use it, area then cuts car-supporting monies to drive people to use the light rail whether they want to or not. (Insert public buses as needed.)

    The minute a city or state starts to try and figure out how to coerce people out of their cars, public transit jumps the shark.

  101. “$1.10 in state gas taxes.”

    You forgot the federal gas tax.

  102. And are train systems more or less expensive to fund and maintain than roads?

  103. Fare from Albuquerque to Santa Fe: $5.00

  104. Survey question: “Should the government make life better?”

    Who would say no to that?

    Next, ask: “Should the government take fifty (or seventy, or ninety) cents of every dollar you earn, to make somebody else’s life better? Should the government impoverish you, and your children, and your children’s children, to make somebody’s life better?”

    Who would say no to that?

  105. I have much less of a problem with buses. They are less expensive and use currently existing infrastructure.

  106. In this train vein, they have actually begun work on the 2nd Ave. subway line (I wonder what color it will be?). Boston, your years of embarrassment over The Big Dig will soon be over as this project spirals so far out of control that you’ll look responsible in comparison.

    I predict this project will be the Tony Montana of big city infrastructure projects.

  107. Yep, there’s going to be another stimulus bill after this one. You’re not going to like that one, either.

    And you’re not going to be able to stop it.

    Maybe not, but that’s no reason to keep quiet while the emperor is strutting around buck naked.

    -jcr

  108. “In this train vein, they have actually begun work on the 2nd Ave. subway line ”

    I bet the never finish it.

  109. spending must come in quick, massive doses, and be continued until recovery takes firm root.

    That’s like telling someone he should keep singing until he convinces the sun to rise.

  110. BDB,

    Last time I checked, that 10 million in deficit would be covered entirely by NM. But I could be wrong on that. Seems the state tax would be the one to use.

    But feel free to compare the $5 for 75 mile trip and see if it would cover 75 miles worth of gas tax.

  111. I bet the never finish it.

    It will get finished. The question is: how long does it take. 20 years wouldn’t surprise me at all.

  112. But wasn’t this particular subway line started before and never finished IIRC?

  113. A comparisson to train fees to gas taxes is silly, since the train fee should also take into account cost of purchase and maintenence on the vehicles themselves. If you choose a reasonable time period to factor in the cost of a car and its maintenence vs. a train you’ll get a better picture, I think, of what the price comparisson should be like.

  114. BDB,

    If we include federal gas tax, the trip from Santa Fe to ABQ would need to be made in a vehicle getting 9 mpg or less to equal the fare on the Rail Runner.

  115. and insurance, car insurance.

  116. I think a better headline for this article would have been “Power-hungry bankster asks for more power.”

    -jcr

  117. But I’m with Sugarfree’s 1:18pm comment, unless it’s in the case of a very very new city. The concept of “transit oriented development” has been used to justify many a line.

  118. Average cost per mile for a car…around 56 cents a mile.

    Most transit systems calculate a rider-mile at around 30 cents.

  119. I’m with Reinmoose; trying to draw a meaningful conclusion from comparing a ticket price to a theoretical gas tax number is absurd.

  120. Most transit systems calculate a rider-mile at around 30 cents.

    Is that a full car? What’s the cost per rider mile if there are seven people in a car designed to carry sixty?

  121. How much of the $5 ticket is taxes?

  122. But wasn’t this particular subway line started before and never finished IIRC?

    Since 1929. More here.

    They’re going to call it the “T” line? That’s dumb. And it’s going to be light blue? That’s way too close to the A/C/E color, man!

  123. I don’t think the stimulus comparison with the New Deal is apt, whether you believe it was a savior or a ruse.

    The United States that existed in the 1930’s does not exist today, especially when viewed as a balance sheet.

    The United States in 1930 was by far and away the world’s biggest creditor. United States industrial capacity exceeded all of Europe’s, combined. Our balance of payments with the rest of the world vis-a-vis exports/imports and debt/credit flows was completely in our favor. It was the old imperial powers of Europe that were saddled with huge armies in poorly thought out adventures in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, the US military was essentially de-mobilized from WWI, with the costs to match. Also, there was no vast, bankrupt social pension schemes like Social Security and Medicare loading the US Government with $trillions$ in off-balance sheet obligations. Outside of government worker pensions, there was no long-term liabilities held by the US Government outside of a manageable Treasury debt.

    Now, we print fiat money, are the world’s biggest debtor, have the world’s largest balance of payments deficit, and entitlement obligations that boggle the mind in the coming decades. Almost half of our Federal Budget is now consumed by social-pension/insurance obligations and debt financing. Oh, and the rest of the world has grown up to some degree or another, vs. the colonial/fascist basket-case the planet’s political map was back in FDR’s time.

    It is a a useless comparison without factoring in such obvious differences in the American financial situation then versus now.

  124. If it’s a system that doesn’t turn a profit, theoretically all of it, right?

  125. That’s way too close to the A/C/E color, man!

    New York City does not care about color-blind illiterate subway riders.

  126. “This is why we have a political process…the community gets to decide if the costs/benefits are worth it. It is a messy process, but it is the best we’ve got.”

    Hahahaha. Neu has just summed up the case against politics.

  127. NM,

    Also hard to calculate.

    This is why we have a political process

    Wrong. That is why we have money. The “value” of all those different things can be converted to a common unit and compared.

  128. Spending more on education is useless–we already spend too much to support the education bureaucrats and receive precious little in results for it.

    Spending more on “social services” won’t increase wealth creation one iota–it simply transfers dollars away from the productive to the unproductive. Thereby producing a surplus of the unproductive.

    For joe and his ilk, the important thing about the porkulus bill is that it is being passed by Democrats.

  129. My advice: guns and ammo.

    Thankfully you won’t need to waste ammo on democrats…the rifle butt will take care of them fine.

  130. New York City does not care about color-blind illiterate subway riders.

    Subway rider?!?

  131. For those who say “this is just the beginning:”

    Over lunch, I heard Obama on the radio saying they’re going to set up some sort of recovery.gov website to “track” the number of jobs created and where the money is going, and that we will be his “eyes and ears” to ensure the money is properly spent.

    What the fuck is going on in this country? It really is something out of a dystopian novel. Track you’re own stimulus dot com?

    I’m really tired of this horseshit…

  132. The current economic crisis could more accuratly be called a debt crisis.

    Clearly, much more borrowing and spending are needed, and fast. Consumers may be tapped out and deep underwater, but the gubmint credit card has no limit. We’ll be fine.

  133. “Over lunch, I heard Obama on the radio saying they’re going to set up some sort of recovery.gov website to “track” the number of jobs created and where the money is going,”

    In reality its going to be about as reality-based as those computer print outs from the ’60s the govt. gave to the media that said we were “winning” in Vietnam.

  134. Yes, I know the hip kids call them “trains.” I was trying for a wider audience.

  135. According to my sources, the stimulus package is responsible for the invention of Velcro.

  136. They’re going to call it the “T” line? That’s dumb. And it’s going to be light blue? That’s way too close to the A/C/E color, man!

    Pittsburgh has a T line that they started and never finihsed as well, although it’s more above-ground than under.

    They only managed to get one leg built, which runs directly south through all the afflent neighborhood that don’t use the Subway.

    Now imagine this fuck up on a national level and you’ve got our beloved leader’s stimulus…

  137. P Brooks | February 9, 2009, 1:35pm | #
    Most transit systems calculate a rider-mile at around 30 cents.

    Is that a full car? What’s the cost per rider mile if there are seven people in a car designed to carry sixty?

    I think that takes into account of the riders per day per mile averaged out across trips…or something along those lines. It does cost more per mile for the empty trips, or course.

    In the Northeast corridor, the calculate it at 10 cents per rider mile.

    Sugarfree,

    SugarFree | February 9, 2009, 1:35pm | #
    How much of the $5 ticket is taxes?

    Not a cent. It is a fee…which is a slightly different thing than a tax.

  138. robc,

    Wrong. That is why we have money. The “value” of all those different things can be converted to a common unit and compared.

    Nope. Not all things of value have a price.

  139. Obviously, I’ll need a piece of the stimulus to correct my typing ability. I figure $1.2 million should do the trick.

    Anything for jobs, you know…

  140. According to my sources, the moon is made of stinky green cheese.

  141. Yes, I know the hip kids call them “trains.” I was trying for a wider audience.

    You used to be cool, man. Then you moved from Williamsburg into the city, stopped wearing ironic t-shirts, and referred to the train as “the subway”. What happened to you?

  142. They should build the Second Ave. line as an elevated. It would be cheaper and they could sell it as all hip and retro.

  143. In the interest of saving my job, I should require a pay raise

    Am I a teacher, you ask?

    No

    What!? Then I don’t get a raise to stimulate the economy!?

  144. Those were, of course, the same sources who claim “not all things of value have a price.”

  145. Citizen Nothing – I promise you I am going to tear up the High Street Trolley Tracks. We’re gonna get drunk and do it; you in? 😛

  146. They should build the Second Ave. line as an elevated. It would be cheaper and they could sell it as all hip and retro.

  147. Not a cent. It is a fee…which is a slightly different thing than a tax.

    So, unlike the license, gas, repair labor and parts, and sales taxes, a train ticket isn’t taxed? Interesting. Good thing light rail is staying away from economic coercion on drivers.

  148. Fare from Albuquerque to Santa Fe: $5.00

    And you’re on foot. The problem with light rail transit between cities is it is not, like a horseless carriage, door to door. I know the rejoinder of “Aha! City buses!” which fuckin’ suck in every city I’ve ever been in.

    Take the train to Detroit and the first stop is the car rental agency. It’s cheaper to drive your own into the city.

  149. Something odd is happening to my brilliantly witty comments. I shall try again.

    ——

    They should build the Second Ave. line as an elevated. It would be cheaper and they could sell it as all hip and retro.

    And all the stations can be on the thirteenth floor.

  150. They should build the Second Ave. line as an elevated.

    That would be a disaster beyond all reckoning. 2nd Ave is already a canyon; where are you going to build, over the center of the avenue? It would block out sunlight, cause massive traffic while being built, and would still have to be brought underground to hit any trains they want to station with.

  151. P Brooks,

    Pricing is an imperfect mechanism used to allocate resources.

    Or do your sources tell you otherwise?

    ;^)

  152. The Columbus Trolley is definitely going to be a yuppie boondoggle. It is going to go up and down High Street and connect OSU, the Gayborhood and the Party Bars in the Arena District. It’s a 200million dollar plaything for the hipsters and the chic in the Short North.


  153. Pricing is an imperfect mechanism used to allocate resources.

    Imperfect compared to what?

  154. TAO,

    Compared to perfection, of course.

  155. Neu Mejican: “Nope. Not all things of value have a price.”

    Bullshit. Everything has a price in money or time (which are nearly the same thing). Name one thing you can appreciate without money or time.

    Nothing is instantaneous; everything takes time.

  156. Perfection being some kind of Platonic ideal?

  157. J sub D,

    Bingo. Unless light rail is taking you subway/bus system to subway/bus system, it’s going to eat you alive on one end or the other or you beat your feet.

    As one of the few human beings to have ever survived a Cincinnati to D.C. train trip, I cannot say I recommend it.

  158. JB,

    “Time is money” is not, strictly, true.

    And “price” does not refer to “how much time I lost.”

  159. I shall merely refer you to the curve labeled “Demand”. Note that there is a (non-constant) slope to the line describing the relationship between price and quantity.

  160. TAO,

    The world is imperfect.

    The price mechanism is part of the world.

    It does not manage to provide a signal of the value of all things.

  161. TAO,

    Lexington has gotten a federal grant to bring back street cars. Just another wad of fucking money flushed down the business district toilet. Our downtown is dead because there’s very little to do, not some mythical lack of parking. On the most wildly optimistic route they talked about, you could walk it in about 15 minutes.

  162. Demand KURVE!!!!!

  163. The world is imperfect.

    Again, compared to what?

  164. O Fackler, you’ve done it again!

    I don’t know how fair it is to be refuting a reporter’s paraphrase of a tax-challenged treasury secretary’s deeply held beliefs, but this is striking:

    spending must come in quick, massive doses, and be continued until recovery takes firm root

    Nicky Machiavelli beat me to this observation, but I like to hope common sense would have led me there eventually: This is exactly wrong. From a leadership standpoint, it’s pain that needs to be delivered in quick, massive doses. Relief is what you dole out as stingily as possible.

  165. “They should build the Second Ave. line as an elevated.”

    as epi has pointed out that’s totally nuts.

    all the local storeowners on 2nd ave who are having their businesses destroyed due to the construction are also enjoying the view.

  166. JB,

    I should clarify…the term “price” as used by robc above, would refer only to money as he was claiming that all value could be directly converted to money for value comparisons.

  167. BDB | February 9, 2009, 12:10pm | #

    Joe, what about the debt?

    Is the plan really to have hyperinflation to monetize the debt?

    we’ll inflate it away. no need to “hyperinflate” when 5-6% for 10 years would do the trick. buy TIPS and gold.

  168. TAO,

    Again, perfection.

  169. Neu Mejican,

    In essence, price does refer to how much time you lost. Go look at ‘time value of money’ and ‘opportunity cost’.

    There is no way to express value without time or money.

  170. The Angry Optimist | February 9, 2009, 1:59pm | #

    Pricing is an imperfect mechanism used to allocate resources.

    Imperfect compared to what?
    Neu Mejican | February 9, 2009, 2:00pm | #

    TAO,

    Compared to perfection, of course.

    Define perfection as it relates to resource allocation.

  171. Money is nothing but a tool to express value.

    People often convert from time to money: “don’t waste my time”, etc.

  172. Now that we have moved to “define perfection” I will get back to work, time is money as we all know.

    A quick response to JsubD before I go…we don’t need to have perfect resource allocation, just reasonable resource allocation.

  173. Regardless, my argument is that you pay a price for anything…either in terms of money or time.

    Or more crass: you always pay for pussy.

  174. “Of course, the more you take, the better it works. You’re looking mighty puny, son. Better buy a case. Mebbe two.”

  175. They should build the Second Ave. line as an elevated.

    Do you mean Second Ave. in Manhattan? If so, u r coo coo.

  176. JB,

    JB | February 9, 2009, 2:15pm | #
    Money is nothing but a tool to express value.

    People often convert from time to money: “don’t waste my time”, etc.

    I don’t disagree. See my comment above. robc was claiming that all value could be converted to money. This just isn’t true. Money is a tool to express value, but like all tools, it does not have universal utility.

    Bye guys.

  177. You know, maybe I could get behind this stimulus if it all went toward my plan to lay down a massive network of pneumatic tubes rated for human use.

  178. Rip off Futurama much, ProL?

  179. “We’re going to need to pay it (the debt) off during the good times.”

    When has that ever happened? A lot of states are going broke because when times were good, they just found new “needs” to fund. If we don’t have the will to tighten up during the bad times, we sure as hell won’t during the good times.

  180. PL’s thread also contains me struggling with a commenter who didn’t know the difference between supply and demand. Good stuff.

  181. Nope. Not all things of value have a price.

    Everything has a price.

    I value some things so highly that all the money in the world couldnt buy them, but they still have a price.

  182. You said it was imperfect, and frankly speaking, unless you’re defining perfection as “nothing that offends my emotional sensibilities”, you have to compare perfection to what’s available.

    Prices are a perfect evaluative mechanism, because they are the best available.

  183. “I’m just a simple country hyperchicken from a backwards asteroid.”

  184. I value some things so highly that all the money in the world couldnt buy them

    Aww… it’s cool how you can finally admit your feelings for me.

  185. Not all things of value have a price.

    Since the only thing govt can collect thru taxes or borrow from China is money, this is irrelevant. Govt can’t do anything to anything that isn’t also open to being priced in dollars.

  186. Time is literally money sometimes. Was it Kenya that people were using cell phone minutes as currency?

  187. jsh,

    Dont say that. They might try to tax love next. But, as pointed out at 2:17, that has a price.

  188. “Over lunch, I heard Obama on the radio saying they’re going to set up some sort of recovery.gov website to “track” the number of jobs created and where the money is going,”

    “In reality its going to be about as reality-based as those computer print outs from the ’60s the govt. gave to the media that said we were “winning” in Vietnam.”

    Of course not, in six months you will be able to clearly see that the chocolate ration will have doubled due to the efforts of our most holy savior. Just don’t record the numbers or attempt to validate them.

  189. I value some things so highly that all the money in the world couldnt buy them, but they still have a price.

    “How much for the little girl? Sell me your children!”

  190. Episiarch,

    Um, no. I had that idea back when I was a kid, watching checks go to the teller and magic lollipops coming back.

  191. Epi,

    If I had any, they would be probably be crazy cheap. I’ll sell you a vial of pre-children if you really want it.

    I didnt write that.

  192. That is rape, robc! That is borderline rape!

  193. Epi,

    Im pretty sure I usually consent.

  194. There’s also Logan’s Run and that Genesis something that Roddenberry produced with John Saxon and Lurch. They used intertubials.

  195. I want to see Robots -style catapults used for intra-urban travel.

  196. “Nope. Not all things of value have a price.”

    If it doesn’t have a price, you are incapable of proving it has a value to begin with.

  197. Lexington has gotten a federal grant to bring back street cars.

    Please tell me this isn’t serious.

  198. I wish.

    Lexington Herald-Leader

    Keep trolleys’ return on track

    People who lived or worked in downtown Lexington during the years buses outfitted like trolleys circulated around the area remember them fondly. The service was halted in 1997 after 15 years because ridership was low and the trolley maintenance bill was growing.

    Before long, we hope, those memories will be replaced when people can climb aboard a trolley again, thanks to a federal grant announced last week.

    A $1,212,800 grant will be used toward paying for four replica trolleys that will…

  199. Is it just me, or are trolleys that don’t run on fixed rails a total joke?

    I mean, they’re just a glorified bus.

  200. Actually, they are bus with no windows that are easy to fall out of… The downtown is seriously tiny. This is a stupid idea.

    You want to revitalize Lexington’s downtown? Get rid if the open container law, loosen the restrictions on getting a liquor license, stop arresting people for public intoxication unless they are fucking shit up, and give restaurants and bars a massive tax break when they occupy storefronts that have been empty for more than a year.

  201. Next, ask: “Should the government take fifty (or seventy, or ninety) cents of every dollar you earn, to make somebody else’s life better? Should the government impoverish you, and your children, and your children’s children, to make somebody’s life better?”

    Who would say no to that?

    He’s my analogy:
    Let’s say you have a particular plan … or maybe a dream. Your goal is to develop a private aerosapce firm that raises money on small consumer electronics and funnels the profits into developing cheaper launch technology.

    Should the government take 50% of everything you and your company makes to provide health care to poor people?

    In other words, should the government be making moral judgements that the welfare of others is more important than your personal dreams or goals, so you should be forced to support other people at the expense of your own amibitions and desires?

    Should the government be in the position of making moral judgements about what goals are “good” in the first place?

  202. My take on it is that is the first responsibility of the federal government to not exceed the ennumerated powers delegated to it by the Constitution as per the 10th Amendment.

    And mandating charity from one group of citizens to another isn’t even remotely related to any of those ennumerated powers.

  203. I can attest that the Japanese have paved a huge amount of their country with un-used roads and bridges since their bubble burst in 1989. I had no idea it was $6 TRILLION worth. What is clear is that the spending helped keep the same party in power while it was going on AND it helped to centralize power to an un-heard of level.

    Our Treasury secretary has already laid the groundwork for his boss’ excuses later: spending was way too small and too spread out to be effective. “If only we had spent more, we would have turned things around.”

  204. The problem, according to Geithner and other advocates of stimulus spending, is that Japan spent too little money too slowly;

    Come on now, how fucking predictable was that? Ohhh, it wasn’t big and fast ENOUGH! If only we’d have just done it bigger, longer and uncut!

    Someone has to stop these crazies, and frankly, I’m getting to the point where it may involve the second amendment, because we’ve already lost the first.

  205. “If we’d only had this Bill on Obama’s desk by Groundhog Day. Now, look at the mess we’re in.”

  206. From a leadership standpoint, it’s pain that needs to be delivered in quick, massive doses.

    Er, mission accomplished?

  207. Joe writes:

    did you know there was no period when GDP declined for two consecutive quarters under FDR?

    Isn’t the definition of a recession 2 qtrs of declining growth? Why was the recession in 1937 called a recession then? Also, isn’t one of the key acts that FDR did to bring us out of the Depression the Emergency Banking Act? That’s the primary difference between what FDR did and what Japan did.. Japan didn’t seriously write down bad assets until 2001. Or how would you explain why Japan’s recession lasted 10 years?

  208. every one is aware that Libertarians are only a fringe zealot minority. At least, that is what American liberals keep telling themselves and the rest of us over and over, while the rest of the world leaves their failed Keynesian policies in the dust when we are forced to suffer their scourge.

    Interviewer: “In the fight with the financial crisis, are you a Keynesian or a Friedmanite?”

    Prime Minister Tusk (of Poland): “The problem with these theories is that they serve well in thought, but they don’t serve well in practice. If I had to identify myself with someone, at this time it would have to be with Friedrich von Hayek who, talking about the business cycle, highlighted the fact that every artificial boom caused by the expansion of credit by banks works in the end against itself. Today in the philosophy of operating American financial institutions there are too many footprints of the Keynesian tradition of regulation, such as intervention for achieving – in effect – only temporary results.”

  209. if the liberal establishment was correct in theory and implementation, TARP would have worked, and we would be well on our way to recovery.

  210. You want convenient? How about the fact that neither conclusion can be definitively proven, nor definitively refuted?

    If we do not know which one will work then why do you support the one that leads to more debt?

  211. For joe and his ilk, the important thing about the porkulus bill is that it is being passed by Democrats.

    The difference between FDR and Carter and Obama is that FDR’s face was not on TV every 30 seconds sandwiched between a constant stream of bad economic news. It took awhile for the public to turn on Carter, but with today’s hyper news cycle it would not surprise me at all if a year from now Obama will have become a defacto lame duck.

    Joe’s confidence that a second stimulus package is unstoppable really is false bravado..fire side chats do not work anymore..this sucker has be perceived by a pretty skeptical public to work or Obama is dead meat.

  212. Obama faces–and knows he faces–a serious risk of revisiting Clinton’s house of horrors in 1994. While the GOP is certainly unpopular right now, if a pack of “stimulus” bills get passed despite public displeasure, at least one house of Congress may go right back to the Republicans.

    One other problem for Obama is that Congress is at a very low level of popularity, and he has to be careful about hitching his horse too closely to it. Really, he’s learning Catch-22 up close, isn’t he?

  213. “The problem, according to Geithner and other advocates of stimulus spending, is that Japan spent too little money too slowly; wasted a lot of it on useless projects…”

    Speeding up the rate of spending will make it all the more likely the money is wasted on useless projects. Not that it’s likely to be spent on very useful projects anyway, but increasing the rate will necessarliy decrease the level of scrutiny of the merits of each particular project. It guarantees waste.

    This is the quality of thinking of someone who’s tax cheating we had to ignore in order to get the benefit his great experience and intelligence?

  214. If Geitner didn’t claim his kiddies summer camp as a tax deduction and the rest of president 666’s cabinet paid their taxes they could probably have all the money their cronies desire.

    But who’d voluntarily pay taxes to watch it disappear into another leftwing fantasyland project? Geitner , Daschle, Rangel, Dodd, Clinton and the rest certainly didn’t. What they know that the rest of the lemmings don’t?

  215. if the liberal establishment was correct in theory and implementation, TARP would have worked, and we would be well on our way to recovery.

    The Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) is a program of the United States government to purchase assets and equity from financial institutions in order to strengthen the financial sector

    Yeah TARP sure sounds like a “libertarian” program.

    lol

  216. If only they spend more money they can transform Harlem into paradise. If only the Congress spends more money it can create world peace and love.

    If only the democrats would stop drinking the Kool Aid.

    Hope, change, Hussein.

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