Nelson: Hair-Splitting in Defense of Bad Policy is No Vice

On MSNBC earlier this morning, Senator Ben Nelson (D-Nebraska) was asked to explain his perverse decision to cut state aid money from the stimulus package and explained, “they’re not cuts. These are adjustments downward.”

But whatever you call them, the point remains that Nelson and Susan Collins (R-Maine) took a look at a huge bill, and zeroed-in with laser-like efficiency on one of its least-controversial and most highly-stimulative provisions, deciding that that was a good place for “adjustments downward.” And while doing this, Nelson and Collins left in place the least-stimulative elements of the House package and added new non-stimulative stuff like an AMT patch extension and a tax break for people who buy homes. Consequently, as CAP’s Will Straw explains, the Senate “centrists” managed to come up with a bill that creates fewer jobs while increasing the deficit by a greater amount:

The Senate compromise recovery and reinvestment legislation provides for 12 to 15 percent fewer jobs created or saved than the House-passed Recovery and Reinvestment Act despite costing slightly more. The House-passed legislation creates or saves between 430,000 and 538,000 more jobs than the Senate compromise.

The Senate bill would be a good deal better than no bill, but a good deal worse than the House bill. The conference committee definitely needs to undo some of the damage.