Ever since the Solyndra story broke, I’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop. And … I’m still waiting. The Washington Post unearthed some e-mails suggesting that Obama Administration officials lobbied the Energy Department to expedite approve of a loan for the solar panel company, which eventually went bankrupt. Obviously that was a bad idea. But corruption? Impropriety? No signs of that yet. More damning information could still emerge.
The economy is sluggish and unemployment is on the rise, but Republicans and their allies say they want nothing to do with President Obama’s agenda for job creation because it’ll be just another “failed stimulus." Here's John Boehner making that argument on his official blog. Here's Karl Rove doing the same on Fox News. And here's Richard Posner offering his version at TNR -- although, to be fair, he merely calls the stimulus "botched" and I'm not sure he qualifies as a Republican ally. Of course, the argument isn't new.
Paul Ryan is a remarkable politician. It is rare in this day and age to find an elected official so carefully craft an image that is distinctly at odds with reality and yet have the media cooperate so thoroughly and willingly in his image making. Mike Grunwald is in top form: You may not like Congressman Paul Ryan's budget plan, but you must admit that it's courageous. You simply must.
Please forgive the light blogging. I'm on a short vacation with my family. Our weekend itinerary includes hiking at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Like the rest of the National Park System, I gather, it will close if the government shuts down this weekend. I may not be covering the budget story for the next 72 hours, but I may end up dealing with one little part of it. In the meantime, here are a few topical items worth reading: Ezra Klein explains why Paul Ryan's budget doesn't have a realistic strategy for controlling health care costs. You know who does? The Democrats.
The Obama Administration determination to avoid describing their new economic stimulus as a "stimulus" has been comical. And logical. Most economists believe the stimulus created and saved millions of jobs, enough to help keep the country out of a true depression. But the word stimulus has become politically toxic. Mainly that's because the stimulus wasn't big enough to restore employment to what it was before the downturn. When unemployment is near 10 percent, voters are going to be angry. But it's not just that the stimulus was too small.
Before I answer that question, let me recommend Mike Grunwald's excellent cover story for the Person of the Year issue. It's a great introduction to Bernanke for readers who aren't economics or finance nerds, but you'll find it compelling even if you are such a person. I especially agree with Grunwald's verdict on Bernanke as crisis-manager: None of this was pretty, and reasonable people can disagree about the judgment calls. The Fed is supposed to lend only against safe collateral; the Bear and AIG deals clearly crossed the Rubicon into risk.
An aside from Mike Grunwald's very enjoyable piece in Time on the future of Florida: I felt better after talking to the bubbly [Florida Governor Charlie] Crist, who's like human Prozac. "How can you not be optimistic about Florida?" he asked. "Is there a more beautiful place on the planet?" He then recounted a story that probably won't help him in the GOP Veepstakes: "John McCain told me, 'It's tough in those Rust Belt states. You really feel a bit of depression in people's outlook. But when you get to Florida, people feel great.' [Italics Mine] --Isaac Chotiner