Washington Post Notes Damage Done By Senate “Centrists” Only When It’s Too Late

The Washington Post has a decent article by Lori Montgomery making the point that the changes Senate “centrists” made to economic recovery legislation will make the package much more ineffective, costing hundreds of thousands of people their jobs. But as Jon Chait observes it would have been nice of them to make this point back when it could have made a difference:

What frustrates me is that the Post didn’t write this when it could have made a difference. It’s possible that none of the economists the Post consulted were able to make models before today. But I suspect that the story fell victim to the conventions of objectivity. Writing a story that says, “Centrist Changes Hurt Job Growth, Economists Agree” would be partisan.Writing it after the bill is done, and in a context that downplays the specific actors responsible for the changes, is the kind of thing newspapers can do without feeling like they’re being “biased.”

Of course one can’t say for sure why the Post was so slow, but surely inability to model in a timely manner can’t have been to blame. Will Straw published an analysis for CAP on February 10 that had this conclusion. Paul Krugman had similar figures at about the same time.

It’s also worth saying that the “centrists” aren’t the only ones to blame. There are dozens of Senate conservatives who could have said “I don’t believe in the idea of Keynesian stimulus, but as long as you guys want to do a Keynesian stimulus you may as well do one properly, thus even though I’ll vote ‘no’ on the final bill I’ll agree to vote ‘yes’ on cloture if you undue the damage done by Sens. Specter, Collins, Snowe, and Nelson.”