Looking Forward to Positive Change, for a Change

I am not watching the impeachment trial. I’m tired of feeling like a raw wound. I’ll catch highlights tonight on cable. Instead, I’d rather focus on something positive and note that Paul Krugman is very, very happy about the Biden covid package.

Krugman begins by citing a column he wrote in January 2009. in which he warned that president-elect Obama’s economic stimulus plan was way too cautious and fell short of what was needed in the wake of the 2008 financial sector meltdown. And while the package did some good, it was widely perceived as a failure. And President Obama didn’t get another opportunity to enact more stimulus.

The good news — and it’s really, really good news — is that Democrats seem to have learned their lesson. Joe Biden may not look like the second coming of F.D.R.; Chuck Schumer, presiding over a razor-thin majority in the Senate, looks even less like a transformational figure; yet all indications are that together they’re about to push through an economic rescue plan that, unlike the Obama stimulus, truly rises to the occasion.

In fact, the plan is aggressive enough that some Democratic-leaning economists worry that it will be too big, risking inflation. However, I’ve argued at length that they’re wrong — or, more precisely, that, as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says, the risks of doing too little outweigh any risk of overheating the economy. In fact, a plan that wasn’t big enough to raise some concerns about overheating would have been too small.

“Some Democratic-leaning economists” = Lawrence Summers, I suspect. Summers must be confused about why people aren’t taking him seriously any more. Back to Krugman:

One thing that may be encouraging Democrats, by the way, is the fact that Biden’s policies actually are unifying, if you look at public opinion rather than the actions of politicians. Biden’s Covid-19 relief plan commands overwhelming public approval — far higher than approval for Obama’s 2009 stimulus. If, as seems likely, not a single Republican in Congress votes for the plan, that’s evidence of G.O.P. extremism, not failure on Biden’s part to reach out.

This is an important point. When Biden talks about unifying the country, I believe he means exactly that. Not unifying the Senate or unifying the political parties. It appears so far he’s not even going to try to placate Republicans in Congress; he’s going to do what the people need doing, and if Republicans don’t like it they can go home and explain themselves to their constituents.

From yesterday’s Politico:

Already, there’s talk about midterm attack ads portraying Republicans as willing to slash taxes for the wealthy but too stingy to cut checks for people struggling during the deadly pandemic. And President Joe Biden’s aides and allies are vowing not to make the same mistakes as previous administrations going into the midterms elections. They are pulling together plans to ensure Americans know about every dollar delivered and job kept because of the bill they’re crafting. And there is confidence that the Covid-19 relief package will ultimately emerge not as a liability for Democrats, but as an election year battering ram.

Yes, yes, yes. This is how it’s done, Dems.

Always there are some people who don’t get memos. Some of the “moderate” Dems wanted to be more frugal with the direct payments. But it appears the progressives have defeated this. Cristina Cabrera writes at TPM that “moderate Democrats had proposed lowering the cap to $50,000 for individual filers and $100,000 for couples before the amounts per payment begin to phase out.”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Senate Budget Committee Chair Bernie Sanders (I-VT) blasted the proposals to lower the thresholds on Saturday.

“It would be outrageous if we ran on giving more relief and ended up doing the opposite,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.

“In other words, working class people who got checks from Trump would not get them from Biden. Brilliant!” Sanders tweeted.

To which some of the “moderates” must have said, oh, yeah. Duh. The former caps remain in place. And yesterday they added a provision that would give millions of families $3,000 per child.

Maybe if Democrats get used to throwing their weight around, next they’ll kill the filibuster. Oh, please ….

Elsewhere — Aaron Blake writes about the sodden mess that is Trump’s impeachment defense.

Watch this video that was shown in the Trump impeachment trial this morning. Just watch it.