An unusual aspect of the recent debate in Washington is the lengths that supporters have gone to marginalize anyone who questions the so-called stimulus plan.
Robert Reich, Bill Clinton’s labor secretary and member of President Obama’s transition team, claims “almost every economist will tell you the stimulus has to be massive.” Nobel laureate and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman accuses skeptics of “making totally non-serious arguments.”
Sen. Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, says “economists agree” that doling out large sums to state governments is “effective.” Vice President Joe Biden says that “every economist that I’ve spoken to” believes the spending package “has to be big.”
Perhaps the vice president should broaden his social circles. The truth is that, instead of being uniformly in favor of the massive spending bill, which is being championed by congressional Democrats with Obama’s support, economists remain divided.
You may have heard that respectable economists, including Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, say stimulus spending should be high or higher. But some news organizations have been less than diligent in telling you that other respectable economists are deeply skeptical of the idea, flatly oppose it or favor competing proposals such as additional tax relief.