It's Time To Talk Numbers
Nearly a month ago, Nouriel Roubini said we need a $400-500 billion stimulus package before the end of the Bush Administration. Clearly, that's not going to happen. Nor will Bush do something dramatic, such as appointing Barack Obama's economic team, to give them a jump start on fixing his disaster; and suggestions that he should fast-track the entire new administration are laughable. Bush is still Bush. But the Obama team is already signaling their intent to hit the ground running. It's a question of degree.
The latest news about Obama's economic stimulus package has already been discussed by paradox, who is justifiably astonished that Obama may back off from eliminating the Bush tax cuts and merely allow them to expire, in 2011. But I want to add a quick thought about the stimulus itself. As reported by the New York Times:
There were hints Sunday that a stimulus package might be extraordinarily large. Austan Goolsbee, a senior Obama economic adviser, charged that the Bush administration had “dithered” as the economy turned down and suggested that the incoming administration would take dramatic action.
“We’re out with the dithering, we’re in with a bang,” he said on CBS. A senior Democrat, Senator Charles Schumer of New York, said that any package should be as much as $700 billion, equivalent to the recent financial bailout plan.
But the article goes on to say that Goolsbee, while acknowledging the severity of the crisis, wouldn't commit to the types of numbers Schumer was suggesting. Nor did Obama himself, in an otherwise superb press conference, this morning. But they should. Assuming Roubini is right, and assuming that nothing remotely close to what he says we need now will be enacted by Bush, it is essential that Obama make clear that when we again have a functioning government, in January, we will get the stimulus we need. Two weeks ago, Paul Krugman crunched the numbers, and concisely explained why the Obama stimulus needs be at least $600 billion. In other words, Schumer is right on target, however much mendacious idiots want to spew to the contrary. Obama has enormous public support. He shouldn't expect any help from Bush on the economy. There is no time to waste. Obama needs to get wonkish, he needs to do it publicly, and he needs to do it now.