Chip Reid seemed to have stumped Barack Obama during the press conference today with this question about Obama’s new economic plan, announced this week. Given that the administration’s economic stimulus plan in February 2009 consisted of infrastructure spending and targeted tax breaks, why are Obama and Democrats so reluctant to call it another stimulus package? Obama replied that a President should always look for ways to stimulate job growth, but declined to answer the actual question:
President Obama has “no problem” with the idea that he’s trying to stimulate the economy. He’s just not quite willing to call his new economic proposals a stimulus.
Obama repeatedly avoided using the word during his Friday news conference, using a grab bag of other terms to describe the $787 billion package that passed in 2009 and the White House’s fresh infrastructure spending proposal.
Asked by Chip Reid of CBS to explain why officials have tried to “avoid the word ‘stimulus’ like the plague,” Obama defended the first wave of recovery spending enacted last year.
He called it an “economic plan.”
Maybe Obama is aiming for accuracy. After all, Porkulus didn’t stimulate growth, either, so that was just an “economic plan” … a failed economic plan. Given the similarity of this new proposal to Porkulus, including a heavy reliance on transportation and emphasis on high-speed rail, calling it a stimulus would hardly meet truth-in-advertising standards.
It appears that the White House is trying to be more careful this time around about raising expectations — but that calls into question the entire strategy. Obama wants to spend another $50 billion on infrastructure that we will have to borrow even while we still haven’t spent all of the infrastructure funds from Porkulus, in a process that Obama himself says will take six years to fully implement. If that isn’t going to stimulate permanent, private-sector job creation in the near term (as opposed to temporary public-sector construction jobs), why would we spend the money at all while staring down the barrel of a debt crisis?