October 21, 2009

Democrat Governor Inadvertently Accurate on Stimulus

Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell (D) was on Fox News this morning talking about the possibility of another stimulus and whether or not he supports it.

He stated that he didn't think it was time just yet for another stimulus but if there were to be one, it should focus on infrastructure projects instead of social programs. But that's not where he is right. Governor Rendell was speaking directly to his constituents in a state where unemployment is 'only' 8.6%. That's below the national average, but Pennsylvania is a state that could be impacted by the President's apparent hatred for coal. The rate could get worse. The Governor does have to factor in his own political survival, and the facts on the ground in his home state of Pennsylvania cannot be ignored when he speaks to a national audience.

But on that point, Governor Rendell is at least half right. A spending stimulus in the past has focused on shovel-in-the-ground projects. Roads. Dams. Bridges. At least they provide a tangible societal benefit down the road. Whether they have a stimulating effect on the economy is another thing. Social programs do not put people back to work.

Where Governor Rendell is right, albeit unintentionally, is - get ready for this - in his defense of the previous stimulus effort by Democrats.


Let me explain that.

Governor Rendell claimed that the term stimulus has gotten a bad name/reputation of late. He's right. But his intended point is not. He was implying, being on Fox and trying to play to (and convert) the audience, that a stimulus isn't as bad as conservative media portrays it. Never mind that it has failed on every measurement including the President's own 8% unemployment cap.

But it HAS gotten a bad reputation and it's as a result of the Democrats' choice method of trying to stimulate the economy. A stimulus effort in and of itself is not a bad thing, but the devil is in the details.

When the economy is in trouble, the government has many levers it can pull: stimulus spending, tax cuts, interest rate reductions, and managing the money supply (wisely) are some of those options. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with the government trying to reduce the impact of a recession. The question is "how". Prudent, incremental, unobtrusive steps that recognize the government's role as one to facilitate of business, not demonize it, would have been applauded by most.

But the Democrats have chosen some very wasteful if not destructive options as their stimulus package. It should have been named a spending package because they've sullied the term stimulus for a generation to come. Governor Rendell was right. A stimulus isn’t what it used to be. It has become synonymous with deceit, waste, and pork. Nice going Democrats.

By the way, the first round of stimulus was dubbed porkulus although I tried hard to call it stinkulus.  I say the next one down the pipe we call "stinkulus" rather than "prokulus 2". It sounds better, and less derivative.  It has nothing to do with ego, I swear...

EXIT Question: Does the fact that Rendell and other Democrats are willing to appear on Fox News, unlike the President, give away their hand on the 2010 elections? Will they take a good cop / bad cop approach that allows local incumbents to distance themselves from the President and come of looking good locally? Given the President's approval slide, particularly among independents, I bet that's the play they are going to run in many states.

Fox News should ask every elected official that comes on whether or not they support the President's position on Fox. What a way to out them. It doesn't matter if they answer truthfully or not - No means the President is wrong: Yes means they are self-serving hypocrites; anything in between will come off as disingenuous. If it results in an all out Democrat boycott, then the Democrats will come across as more partisan than Fox, not the other way around.

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