With unemployment rising, a debate is underway about the effectiveness of President Barack Obama’s $787 billion stimulus package.
To be sure, Republican criticism is the same old, same old.
Republicans oppose government spending as a response to the crisis. They fear that people will start to think good things about government spending.
Still, the stimulus plan has raised voters’ concerns about government spending.
But Krugman says a second stimulus is needed:
And that’s what the Obama administration should be doing right now with its fiscal stimulus. (It’s important to remember that the stimulus was necessary because the Fed, having cut rates all the way to zero, has run out of ammunition to fight this slump.) That is, policy makers should stay calm in the face of disappointing early results, recognizing that the plan will take time to deliver its full benefit. But they should also be prepared to add to the stimulus now that it’s clear that the first round wasn’t big enough.
But there’s a difference between defending what you’ve done so far and being defensive. It was disturbing when President Obama walked back Mr. Biden’s admission that the administration “misread” the economy, declaring that “there’s nothing we would have done differently.” There was a whiff of the Bush infallibility complex in that remark, a hint that the current administration might share some of its predecessor’s inability to admit mistakes. And that’s an attitude neither Mr. Obama nor the country can afford.
What Mr. Obama needs to do is level with the American people. He needs to admit that he may not have done enough on the first try. He needs to remind the country that he’s trying to steer the country through a severe economic storm, and that some course adjustments — including, quite possibly, another round of stimulus — may be necessary.
With African Americans bearing the brunt of the recession, it may be necessary for black leaders to weigh in on the debate.