Or, to put it another way: If the federal government had a strong track record of responsible spending, it would mean one thing if it went into hock for a short period of time to goose the economy (again, whether this would work is open to question). It means something totally different when a government that spent all of the 21st century piling on debt and new, long-term entitlement programs responds to an economic downturn first by creating yet another gargantuan entitlement (Obamacare) and taking on even more debt in the here-and-now. This cuts in a Milton Friedmanesque, monetarist direction too. If the Federal Reserve had not been keeping money artificially cheap for the past couple of decades and it worked to lower interest rates and increase the availability of money in a given moment, that would mean one thing. Promising to keep rates low for the next couple of years – after years of loose money and statements that all those bubbles weren’t bubbles at all – doesn’t mean the same thing.