Time for a second stimulus?
Worse-than-expected unemployment has Washington talking about another package to give the economy a jolt.
The economic stimulus package hasn't had the time to kick in yet, said Christopher Beam in Slate, but already Washington is buzzing with talk of a second stimulus, as unemployment figures show the economy is losing more jobs then expected. The Obama administration is holding back, for now. "Politically speaking, though, it's hard to imagine the administration standing pat if jobs continue to hemorrhage."
"Democrats are all over the map on the stimulus and the possibility of a sequel," said Victoria McGrane in Politico, "and it’s not hard to see why: When it comes to a second stimulus, they may be damned if they do and damned if they don’t." There's growing talk that the first stimulus wasn't enough, but the public has little appetite for a second round.
Democrats insist that the problem is simply that George W. Bush left them a worse economy than they thought, said John Lott in Fox News. But "the alternative explanation should be obvious: The stimulus made things worse." It's nonsense to argue that the first stimulus was too small—the real problem was that "spending almost a $1 trillion on various stimulus projects means moving a lot of resources from where the private sector would have spent it, eliminating the jobs many people currently have."
Talk about nonsense, said Paul Krugman in The New York Times. Most of the stimulus money hasn't even been spent yet—it was never expected to do much this soon. "The problem, instead, is that the hole the stimulus needs to fill is much bigger than predicted. That—coupled with the fact that yes, stimulus takes time to work—is the reason for a second round, ASAP."
It would help if the cheerleaders for such a "huge fiscal expansion" let us know how much money we're talking about, said Joe Wiesenthal in The Business Insider. So, please, Mr. Krugman, tell the rest of us if "there's such a thing as a too-big stimulus. We don't hear anyone going around advocating, say, $5 trillion in new spending, even though technically speaking that would create a lot of demand and economic activity. So what is the cap, and how do we know?"