The Fierce Urgency of Insufficient Measures

When I mentored undergraduates and high school students in the lab, I always told them that, unlike their education to that point, they are in a position to fail: in class, 90% gets you a A-, but, in lab work, getting 90% done and screwing up the other 10% is failure. It’s like a marathon–Nike commercials aside–you have have to finish*. With that in mind, Brad DeLong encapsulates why I find it so hard to be enthusiatic about Obama–insufficient policy is, well, insufficient. DeLong:

Let me, for one, say that I am having a hard time getting mobilized to enthusiastically back and applaud the AJA because we have an 8% of GDP problem and the AJA is only a 2% of GDP solution. Don’t get me wrong: it is certainly worth passing, and lobbying for, and working for. But even if all of it is passed the unemployment rate 16 months from now is likely to be still 8.6%. (And if none of it is passed the unemployment rate 16 months from now is likely to be 9.6%.) Big problems call for comparably big solutions.

To find the right rhetorical tone is difficult: “HOORAY FOR QUARTER-MEASURES!!”?

That has been one of the most frustrating thing: even if all the stars align correctly, the base rallies, and the conservadems somehow don’t behave like assholes, we’ll have…lowered unemployment slightly. That is a good thing, but, if we’re going to work like hell, let’s embiggen this motherfucker:

What would I do if I were Obama? Other than resigning and spending the rest of my life writing a book every couple of years, living a pretty damned good life, watching my children grow up, and telling everyone in the country to eat a bag of salted dicks, fix this mess yourselves? I’d go all in. Nothing he is going to propose tonight is going to get passed without being watered down to nothing. The House and Senate dysfunction will see to it. So go for it. Use the speech to propose everything you can. Massive infrastructure spending, extension of unemployment benefits that will be automatically renewed every six months until unemployment is under 7%, a public investment back to free up capital for small business, you name it. GO BIG. Hell, propose putting a million Americans to work building that god damned wall around Mexico the Republicans are so fired up about. Just go nuts and use the event to frame the Republicans as do-nothing. And if they start their usual bullshit in the stands with the ‘You Lie” crap, go off. Break out a metaphorical STICK and beat some pudgy wingnut with a southern drawl and a shit eating grin in the audience with it. Call them liars and frauds and point out the bullshit they have been peddling for decades is what got us here. If someone so much as mentions inflation or the bond market, take your shoe off and throw it at them. If you miss, throw the other one. That’s what I would do.

This is what I don’t understand: you’re not going to get anything worth a damn from the Republicans anyway, so why not talk pretty? Not only will it rally your base, but it would help shift the frame of the debate in the long run.

*To be clear, I was talking about paying attention to what they were doing. Obviously, many experiments don’t work out as planned.

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1 Response to The Fierce Urgency of Insufficient Measures

  1. Sailor says:

    You are absolutely right, and what is scary about this is the future. Right now, US credit is fine, people are almost begging to lend the government money, one huge whopping stimulus and employment bill could get the US back up ad running. However, here is what I see in the future – Nothing much for jobs so Obama looses the election, the republicans take charge of the presidency and the enough of the rest of it to have control. They seem to believe the crazy stuff they spout, so their solution is going to be more austerity, less regulation and the whole country is going to sink deeper into the recessive mess it teetered on was in when Bush left, much deeper. At that point, whoever gains control the next time round, the ability of h US to climb out of the stinking pit may be way way harder.

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