Stimulus Grades

I’ll admit that I clicked onto Ruth Marcus’ column grading candidates’ stimulus plans specifically expecting to find something I could object to and thus write a feisty blog post about. But actually it seems about right, except that giving Bush “extra credit” for “not insisting on extending his tax cuts, which made no sense as stimulus and would have doomed its chance of passing” seems silly — you don’t extra credit for not screwing up.

Of course the whole stimulus package issue on the campaign trail is a little bit surreal since clearly the situation will be different twelve months from now when any of these people are president. Consequently, I’m not sure how much we really learn from this except for the somewhat disturbing fact that John McCain doesn’t appear to know what a “stimulus package” even is or how to ask someone on his staff to explain the idea to him. There’s a certain artificiality to the whole thing in that I assume the Clinton and Obama campaigns each felt pressure to differentiate themselves from each other even though by most accounts there isn’t, in fact, any kind of gaping philosophical void between the two of them. Mostly I wish I’d seen something creative like Dean Baker’s “green stimulus” concepts thrown in along with the more conventional ideas.