Ezra Klein explains why, despite the apparent success of the stimulus, Republicans find it so easy to attack. In short: macroeconomics is hard, Fox News talking points are easy.
The stimulus has grown the economy 5 plus percent in one year (no marginal feat, and the most growth we've seen in 6 years) and saved or created millions of jobs...
But it is operating amid an economy that's much better at shedding jobs than any economy since the 1930s. Better, even, than the administration is at passing legislation to create jobs. The fact that the captain is uncommonly good at bailing out his boat does not mean he outmatches the ocean around him. Meanwhile, half the crew is blaming him for the fact of the waves and telling the passengers that they should never ride this cruise line again.Republicans can't see a way forward. That's the key, and the message the White House needs to remind voters of going into 2010. The congressional GOP platform seems to amount to little more than playing on misinformation, and taking advantage of lack of voter education about the nuances of economic policy (voters who are smarter than you think, when given accurate information), all while more than half of the GOP caucus is taking credit for results directly stemming from the stimulus they so oppose. That isn't leadership, it's just politics. And bad politics at that.
The president is judged against the state of the country, not against the counterfactual of the state of the country in his absence (and, luckily for the Republicans, not against the counterfactual of the state of the country under the minority's expressed agenda). That's all politics, and that's all how it goes. But people still need help, and the pity is that the Republicans can't see a way forward to helping them because doing so might help the other party in the midterm elections. Republicans opposed the stimulus -- which was one-third tax cuts -- as part of a gambit to leave Democrats holding the bag for an economy that was sure to be weak in 2010, even if their policies had made it stronger than it otherwise would have been.
Much can be said about the Democratic Party's apparent inability, still, to challenge this oft played tactic from the GOP (pomp and bluster, rather than policy and telling the truth) and play better at the same rhetorical game, but no one -- and I mean no one -- can rationally defend the Republicans' lack of solutions to solve our economic problems. Their strategy is for re-election only. Re-elect us, and we'll figure something out then! They have no clue what to do about all this other complicated thinky stuff.
That's something Democrats should be reminding voters of over, and over, and over again for the next 8 1/2 months. Republicans can't see a way forward.