He just weighed in on it in his Elkhart, Indiana, Q&A. --Noam Scheiber
A headline on the Times web site right now seems to capture it: Live-Blogging Amazon's Kindle 2.0 Launch. God help us. Update: Okay, maybe I'm just a luddite. Andrew seems to think this is a revolutionary event. --Noam Scheiber
Per Chait's suggestion about doctoring the stimulus bill in the conference committee, it seems like the obvious fix here is ditching the AMT measure, which costs just under $70 billion, and adding back in the state aid and school construction money (about $56 billion). That would make the Senate bill look a lot more like the House bill, basically ensuring passage in the lower chamber. And the senators who were most adamant about the AMT patch--namely, Chuck Grassley--don't look like they're voting for the stimulus anyway, so no real loss there.
First Read asks: While the Republicans certainly have bruised Obama during this stimulus debate, much of their rhetoric seems pretty overheated, no? "We're going down a road to disaster," said Sen. Richard C. Shelby. Then there's this line, courtesy of the Washington Post, from RNC chairman Michael Steele: "You and I know that in the history of mankind and womankind, government -- federal, state or local -- has never created one job. It's destroyed a lot of them." I'm going with "yes" on this one. --Noam Scheiber
Good to see the moderates in the Senate cut all that wasteful spending out of the stimulus: The biggest cut, roughly $40 billion in aid to states, was likely to spur a fierce fight in negotiations with the House over the final bill. Many states, hit hard by the recession, face wrenching cuts in services and layoffs of public employees as they struggle to comply with laws requiring them to balance their budgets.
Stanford economist Paul Romer unveils an innovative credit-crisis fix in today's Journal: The government has $350 billion in Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds that it can use to encourage new bank lending. If this money is directed to newly created good banks with pristine balance sheets, it could support $3.5 trillion in new lending with a modest 9-to-1 leverage. Right out of the gate, the newly created banks could do what the Fed has already been doing -- buying pools of loans originated by existing banks that meet high underwriting standards.
Here's Noonan in her Journal column today: Mr. Obama should have written the stimulus bill side by side with Republicans, picked them off, co-opted their views. Did he not understand their weakness? They had no real position from which to oppose high and wasteful spending, having backed eight years of it with nary a peep. They started the struggle over the stimulus bill at a real disadvantage. Then four things: Nancy Pelosi served up old-style pork, Mr. Obama swallowed it, Republicans shocked themselves by being serious, and then they startled themselves by being unified.
Jon Chait and I were debating this at our editorial meeting this morning. Jon says the GOP's dream is to derail the stimulus plan, which would devastate the economy and destroy Obama's presidency. I say that'd be pretty self-defeating. Everyone knows Obama inherited an economic mess, and that Obama and the Democrats badly want to pass a stimulus. If the stimulus dies, the GOP will almost certainly get blamed.
But you'd never know it from all the right-wing agitprop on the subject. On Friday, Fox News ran an item saying Obama would cut the Pentagon budget by $55 billion, sourced to an anonymous "defense official." Then today, Tony Blankley had this to say in his Washington Times column: I have been told by sources at the Pentagon that they have been told to not expect full funding of all existing programs. And there is evidence that Obama has apparently been planning to force cuts on our military for some time.
Two quick points about Daschle's withdrawal: 1.) My read of what happened: Daschle was obviously personally close to Obama--he'd supported Obama early on; stocked his campaign with key lieutenants, lobbied superdelegates on his behalf. All of that said, the only way Daschle was going to survive is if there were an important tactical/political reason to for him to survive.