Could They Just Stop?

The Wall Street Journal‘s editors observe:

If at first fiscal stimulus doesn’t succeed, spend, spend again. That’s the motto President Obama embraced yesterday, even if he didn’t use the word “stimulus,” which has managed to set a political record in the speed with which it has become unpopular with voters. This time, the spending is being called “Proposals to Accelerate Job Growth and Lay the Foundation for Robust Economic Growth.”

Yes, there are a few trinkets for conservatives, but they are so small and limited as to be meaningless (a capital-gains tax rate of zero for small business for a year, allowing businesses to expense certain investments up to $250K), particularly in the face of gigantic, anti-growth, anti-jobs initiatives like cap-and-trade (or the more noxious just-cap via EPA edict), hundreds of billions in new taxes in the guise of ObamaCare, and the massive tax hikes that will come when the Democrats allow the Bush tax hikes to expire.

Most of what Obama is talking about, however, is spending, spending, and more spending — turning TARP into a “revolving line of Democratic political credit.” After all, if you’re going to allow the EPA to legislate emission output when even Congress won’t, why not ignore the language and intent of Congress and use the bailout money for whatever the administration likes? The Obami don’t allow constitutional or statutory niceties get in the way. Moreover, as Sen. Judd Gregg explains, it’s fiscal silliness on stilts:

“It’s a huge shell game to try to give political cover to the fact that he wants to create a new stimulus program of about $200 billion,” Gregg said. “And it’s all going to be borrowed money, which means it’s all going to go on the deficit, and it’s all going to go in the debt, and it’s all going to be paid for by our kids. And they really can’t afford it because we’re already giving them enough deficit and debt.”

Gregg added: “I don’t think adding another $200 billion of debt here and claiming that you’re wrapping it around TARP makes any sense at all, because actually, you’re not doing anything relevant to TARP. All you’re doing is borrowing more money.”

None of this will sound very enticing to employers and investors, I suspect. They’d rather see the big-ticket job killers and tax hikes taken off the table and some realization that public spending must be curbed. The Journal‘s editors have it right: “If Congress won’t reduce taxes, the best stimulus now would be for Congress to stop scaring private job creators by promising to help them. Just do nothing at all.” We should be so lucky.