Jon Chait remains as enthusiastic about Barack Obama as I am, so it isn’t surprising that he wrote a blog post entitled “If Only Obama had Done the Things Obama Actually Did”. But the title does raise a question. Is Chait dumping on the very serious centrists (cough David Brooks couch) who argued that Obama should reach out to Republicans by proposing reasonable centrist policies which he had proposed (as Chait often does) or is Chait hippy punching (as Chait does when he isn’t Republipunching).The first two words in the post answer the question “Matt Stoller” OK here comes some hippy punching (I haven’t read past “Stoller”). In contrast, something is very predictable. I almost always agree with Chait (unless he is writing about charter schools and neglects to mention that he is married to a manager of a charter school company).
Charlie Pierce has been there and done that. No need to read his post to get the point — the subtitle is thermonuclear
“I’m Going to Guess This Isn’t a Winning Democratic Platform for 2020
Also, Rand Paul is not a major figure in American politics.”
Just imagine a Pierce Chait debate — might be the critical mass of snark which causes the false vacuum to decay ending the universe (which on balance wouldn’t necessarily be a good thing)).
Now hippy punching can be fun, but really guys, pick on someone in your league — it isn’t nice to dunk on a junior high school guard.
update: I clicked through to an older and excellent Chait article complaining that liberals did’t appreciate Obama in 2010 (now liberals do — the current complaints come from democratic socialists who denounce mere liberals).
He is forces to almost admit that FDR accomplished more than Obama. However, he also demonstrates historical ignorance writing
Roosevelt did not run for office promising to boost deficit spending in order to stimulate the economy. He ran castigating Herbert Hoover for permitting high deficits, then immediately passed an austerity budget in his first year.
It is true that Roosevelt castigated Hoover for permitting high deficits. However, the austerity budget which included an Ocasional Cortezian 63% top marginal income tax rate was The Revenue Act of 1932 (June 6, 1932, ch. 209, 47 Stat. 169). Notably 1932 was Hoover’s last year not Roosevelt’s first year. The bill was signed by tax and don’t spend conservative Hoover.
In fact, in Roosevelt’s first budget (spent in fiscal 1934 the first fiscal year for which he proposed a budget) there was a huge increase in Federal Spending. There was an increase in 1933, even though there was already a budget (& recall FDR became president in March not January). I guess the idea of a Republican soaking the rich is incomprehensible, but it happened. (to make a historiographic error avoided by Amity Schlaes should be embarrassing).
The budget passed (by Congress) in Roosevelt’s first year increased Federal Government current spending by over 30%. Rather a larger proportional increase than the ARRA. This is not a subtle point.
As an aside, fiscal stimulus does not require deficit spending. The balanced budget multiplier is positive (this claim isn’t mere theory it is based on evidence). I do not know why it is regularly asserted that the fiscal stance can be measured by the full employment budget balance (this is a point on which Robert Lucas and Christine Romer sometimes agree & they are both obviously wrong)