The age of Obama doesn't seem to have improved one thing: Public discourse, and the flow of information. Bush and Cheney may be gone from the scene, but the same congressional and media buffoons are still in Washington, still misleading and misinformaing the American people.
Some facts about the economic stimulus proposal now before the Senate:
1) The complaints over spending in the bill amount to something on the order of 1-2 percent of the overall plan to get the economy moving again. Josh Marshall, as usual, is out front in trying to slice through the baloney:
The pretty simple fact here is that the Republicans are not willing or able to criticize any of the substantial amounts of spending in this bill. They're focused on a few tiny parts of it. And too few people are pointing out that these amount to maybe one or two percent of the program total.
2) Despite the impression you might get from clicking on CNN, most Americans still want this thing passed:
I've seen it asserted, assumed or alleged in many places that the stimulus package is hemorrhaging public support and might become something of an albatross around the Obama administration's neck. While I don't doubt that the stimulus could become unpopular down the road, the there is little evidence that it is unpopular in the here and now.
All polling of the stimulus to date, in fact, has shown at least a plurality and usually a majority of Americans in support, with margins varying depending on question wording, how the pollster constructs its sample, and so forth.
3) Government spending creates jobs. Now you can -- and should -- argue about the specifics of how it gets done, and even whether it should, but to deny that government spending creates any jobs at all is patently absurd.
If anything, the stimulus plan doesn't have enough spending -- not for things like mass transit that could create jobs today and reduce our dependence on Middle East oil for decades. But the news coverage of this "debate" has been horrendous. Much of the TV talk on the stimulus follows the same playbook: Here's President Obama's plan, described in broad terms, and now here's a Republican senator to tell you how awful it is.
How much airtime have they provided to the likes of an economist like a Paul Krugman to explain the benefits of a jobs plan? Some, but nowhere near equal.
Not to belabor a theme, but I really do think this is one area where Obama should emulate Reagan: Keep going over the heads of Congress to the American people, and just get the 60 votes to get this passed, period. Those who vote against this will have plenty of time to justify their votes back in their districts in 2010, and they're going to have a lot of 'splaining to do.