TNR’s Noam Scheiber has found the explanation for the 2009 stimulus package not being big enough, and — shock! Surprise! — it’s Larry Summers’ fault. This will make administration critics on the left feel righteous justification, but the closing ‘graff tells you just how pointless all of this sturm und drang really is:
Though Obama was never going to propose a $1.8 trillion stimulus, and Congress certainly wasn’t going to pass one, the president may well have felt a greater sense of urgency had he better understood how far he was from the ideal.
Because there was no “sense of urgency” as the economy tanked, unemployment skyrocketed, etc. Surely a greater “sense of urgency” would have changed…well, nothing, because a bigger stimulus package was politically impossible at the time. There might have been a second stimulus in 2011 if Congress hadn’t been overtaken by teapublican debt limit hackery, but of course everyone was too busy being disappointed that the stimulus — like the ACA and Frank-Dodd and everything else the 111th Congress achieved — was not good enough.
And that is the real problem, isn’t it? America is swamped by anti-government theologians who idolize Ronald Reagan without ever actually examining what he did, and unless that paradigm is swept from political relevance we will never get past it. Until recently, there has been no appreciable counterforce to the Grover Norquist set, and far too many people who might provide the balance would rather see the whole system collapse in the vain hope of replacing it with some vaguely-imagined ideal.