Brian Beutler reports on the bold thinking of members of the House Blue Dog caucus:
After the press conference I asked Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC) whether he agreed with CBO chief Doug Elmendorf — and by extension Obama — that the wisest economic path involves near term stimulus followed by long-run fiscal restraint.
“I would definitely be at odds with his comment on that — I mean we’ve got to get our fiscal house in order,” Shuler said. “We’re at 15 percent of GDP in revenue and 24 and a half percent of expenditures. You want to take that 15 percent to 13 percent and increase spending to 27 percent…. I’ve ran a business, that doesn’t go good on my balance sheet. I’m in the red when that happens.” [...]
Rep. John Barrow (D-GA) said Obama’s actual jobs plan is much less important than the fact that he’s talking about the economy.
“The President’s jobs package is about instilling confidence — to be listening to folks out there,” he told reporters. “There’s a mixed media message going to folks back home, they’re not sure, are we paying attention to their plight. End of the day, what’s in, what gets passed at the end of the day in the President’s jobs package isn’t as important as the fact that we’re talking about, and more importantly that Boehner and Cantor are at least on the surface seem to want to do something with the President. That’s the kind of confidence we want to instill in the Super Committee.”
Democrats in marginal seats have the most at stake in short-term macroeconomic fluctuations. Liberal Democrats aren’t going to lose their seats no matter what happens, but John Barrow is at risk. The problem here, which has been a problem from the beginning, is that lots of members of congress genuinely don’t believe in Keynesian economic prescriptions and nobody’s managed to persuade them. As a colleague was saying to me at lunch, this is in many ways not so surprising. People don’t get involved in politics thanks to deep convictions about macroeconomic stabilization policy.