Archive for February 2009
David Brooks’ NYT column introduces a useful framework for evaluating the stimulus and economic policy. In the short term this a welcome exhortation for less grandiose plans. In the medium term, the stimulus and bailout packages will provide an excellent test for the potential of government planning. I hope people will look back two and five years from now at our current economic policies using the lenses provided in the column. An except:
President Obama has concentrated enormous power on a few aides in the West Wing of the White House. These aides are unrolling a rapid string of plans: to create three million jobs, to redesign the health care system, to save the auto industry, to revive the housing industry, to reinvent the energy sector, to revitalize the banks, to reform the schools — and to do it all while cutting the deficit in half.
If ever this kind of domestic revolution were possible, this is the time and these are the people to do it. The crisis demands a large response. The people around Obama are smart and sober. Their plans are bold but seem supple and chastened by a realistic sensibility.
Yet they set off my Burkean alarm bells. I fear that in trying to do everything at once, they will do nothing well. I fear that we have a group of people who haven’t even learned to use their new phone system trying to redesign half the U.S. economy.