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January 23, 2008

And Sell Ambition at the Common Mart

The Washington Post has noticed that as President Bush and Congressional Democrats try agree on an economic stimulus package, the Democratic presidential candidates are on the attack. The stock market jitters have caused the president and congressional leaders to get serious about taking some action.

It looked for a while that this would take the form of a $300 to $600 tax rebate, but that was loudly criticized on both the Right and the Left for not actually reaching our economic problems. The latest news is that we might see as much as $800 rebates for individuals, $1600 for couples, with unemployment and food stamp extensions and some business tax breaks.

Meanwhile, Democratic candidates Clinton, Obama, and Edwards are taking the opportunity to run against President Bush. That'll be good for a few votes from BDS sufferers.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) placed the world's economic jitters squarely on Bush's shoulders. "As we look at what's happening in the economy, it's very important to recognize how the policies of the last seven years have contributed," she said.

Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) made no mention of the apparent outbreak of bipartisanship during a speech on the economy in South Carolina. Instead, he excoriated Bush as "a president who's done more to contribute to this country's widening inequality than anyone since Herbert Hoover, a president whose tax breaks for wealthy Americans who didn't need them and didn't ask for them have only encouraged the mind-set in Washington and on Wall Street that 'what's good for me is good enough.' "

Edwards took the criticism one step further, urging party leaders to end talks with Bush.

Obama's attack convinces me that I was on the right track the other night when I observed in the debate thread that Democrats are retooling their campaign strategies to echo that of Franklin D. Roosevelt's 1932 campaign now that the economy is sliding into the spotlight. It's all they know now that they can't rely on bad news from Iraq.

Moreover, as far as the Democratic candidates are concerned, the economy can tank. The worse things look, the more ambitious will be the claims that they're just the right person to fix things. The sad part is that Democratic constituencies are likely to believe them. And why not? Everyone wants to go back to the sweet life of the late 1990s.

I'm not an economist, so I don't know what we do next. But I'd like to see Congress take some firm action, if for no other reason than individual confidence is so important in making economic decisions and there's no other good way to tell people not to panic.


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posted by Gabriel Malor at 04:24 AM

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