Democrats oddly unenthused by Porkulus II

After taking a pounding from constituents over the failed economic policies of the last two years, Democrats on the campaign trail pushed the White House to deliver some kind of new direction on jobs in time for the midterm elections.  So far, Barack Obama’s hair-of-the-dog proposal to build even more roads and bridges hasn’t exactly boosted their fortunes.  The Washington Post reports that the only people pleased by Obama’s new $50 billion stimulus proposal and limited tax credit plan seem to be White House aides and Republican candidates:

Facing a rising jobless rate and the possibility of a GOP blowout in the November midterm elections, President Obama sought Wednesday to convince voters that he is charting a new path to revive the American economy.

But Obama’s proposal for $180 billion in fresh infrastructure spending and business tax breaks is not satisfying many of the groups he needs on his side – not lawmakers on Capital Hill who are leery of raising the deficit by spending more, not economists who say the plan is too modest to create many jobs, and not business groups that say the tax benefits come with too many strings attached.

Even some vulnerable Democrats – who have been begging the White House for a jobs strategy to present to recession-battered voters – quickly condemned the president’s latest proposal, suggesting that it bears an uncomfortable resemblance to last year’s unpopular stimulus package.

That’s the problem.  Obama isn’t “charting a new path” at all.  He’s accelerating down the one road he recognizes, a command-economy philosophy that has utterly failed already.  That’s more than just an “uncomfortable resemblance,” it’s doubling down on the discredited Porkulus from last year.

How badly has it played?  The White House staged an intervention in Colorado to rescue Senator Michael Bennet from a primary challenge that nearly unseated him before Bennet had a chance to face Republican Ken Buck in the general election.  Guess who was one of the first people to oppose Obama’s new package?

“I will not support additional spending in a second stimulus package,” said Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), a close White House ally in a tough race against Republican Ken Buck, who has campaigned against government spending.

Bennet asked the same question as many others: why are we talking about more spending and borrowing when Obama hasn’t yet finished spending the Porkulus funds he got last year?  After all, we’re already paying interest on that balance.  Why add more to it?

Obama argued that the tax breaks outlined in his proposal should get Republican backing, but only until Republicans hear how Obama intends to pay for them.  He has resurrected a plan to rescind the tax credits that American businesses get for taxes paid on foreign income.  That idea got tossed aside last year after Obama tried to impose it while he had a lot more political capital than he does now.  The change would essentially penalize American companies for their foreign sales and provide a powerful incentive to relocate the businesses overseas when possible. Otherwise, it would make American companies less competitive in relation to foreign players in their industries by forcing price increases on their products.  That is why the CEOs of Intel, Caterpillar, and Cisco personally went to Washington to argue against it the first time Obama proposed it.

Instead of paying for the tax credits with more tax hikes, why not just cut spending?  That’s what voters want — the elimination of the trillion-plus dollars Democrats added to the annual budget over the last three-plus years, not new ways of raising taxes to spend even more.

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David Strom 6:01 PM on March 29, 2023