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09 March 2009

Tick-Tock

Time is running out:

So here’s the picture that scares me: It’s September 2009, the unemployment rate has passed 9 percent, and despite the early round of stimulus spending it’s still headed up. Mr. Obama finally concedes that a bigger stimulus is needed.

But he can’t get his new plan through Congress because approval for his economic policies has plummeted, partly because his policies are seen to have failed, partly because job-creation policies are conflated in the public mind with deeply unpopular bank bailouts. And as a result, the recession rages on, unchecked.

Precisely what I've been thinking. Obama has a window of opportunity thanks to public confidence but that window is rapidly closing. And it isn't helping that one of the architect's of the current mess, Tim Geithner, is dithering and the administration leaving key Treasury positions unfilled.

I've been bothered by all the triumphalism coming from Democrats and liberals over the fate of the Republican Party. Yes, the Republicans are increasingly detached from reality and doing themselves no favors but if the public doesn't see an improvement in the economy by midsummer, or September as Krugman suggests, then Obama and Democrats could be looking at a very bad time in the 2010 midterm elections regardless of Republican derangement.

EJ Dionne writes today:

Obama's calm and deliberative style is one of his greatest strengths. He doesn't want precipitous action in the midst of an economic collapse to come back to haunt us all. But sometimes excessive caution can be as dangerous as impetuousness. The president has no choice but to be bold. If there is one thing he should fear, it is fear itself.

Exactly right. As I've been saying all along, Obama's cautiousness could turn out to be fatal weakness. Be bold, Mr. President.


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