Saturday, October 03, 2009

Limbaugh Misses Again

It's one thing to call the President of the United States a "moron" who "has a chip on his shoulder about this country." Personal criticism without evidence is silly and degrade the speaker far more than the object of the scurrilous attack.

And we expect such classness from Rush Limbaugh. But in between the attacks on a president's character, intellect, or race, Limbaugh actually makes baseless judgements. After claiming that the Administration's policies are "going to send us back into another recession," Rush on Friday declared

there isn't anybody with a half a brain of economic literacy who would be doing anything Obama is too good right now policy wise in the middle of a recession, nobody would dare say that what they are doing is designed to create jobs.

Apparently, the chairwoman of the Council of Economic Advisers, Christina Romer, does not have half a brain, given that she has pointed out (pdf)

the CEA found that the fiscal stimulus has raised real GDP growth by roughly 2 to 3 percentage points in both the second and third quarters. We estimated that as of August, it had raised employment relative to what otherwise would have occurred by approximately one million. We also showed that our estimates were very much in line with those of a broad range of private forecasters and the Congressional Budget Office. There is a widespread consensus (except perhaps on the op-ed page of the Wall Street Journal) that this aspect of the policy response has been highly effective at alleviating the real decline and counteracting the effects of the financial crisis.

Very dry, that. Here, though, an Associated Press reporter notes that as states cut their budget for combating domestic violence, money from the stimulus package keeps battered women's shelters open, preserving jobs and aiding victims of crime.

Fighting crime was one of the rationales for the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act - but most of the focus has been on police, not victims.

A little over $76,000 in stimulus money helped save the job of Cindy Lyons, an advocate for the Domestic Abuse Project in Minneapolis, for the next two years. Lyons helps victims get their locks changed, handles paperwork for protective orders against their abusers and sometimes gets them out of town.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety's Office of Justice Programs got 72 applications for $2.4 million in stimulus money for violence against women.

"It's saving jobs," said Cecilia Miller, who administers crime victim services funding.

Obviously, the fairly timid economic program, crafted for bipartisanship, has not yet turned the economy around. Paul Krugman argues yesterday in his New York Times column "unless the government does much more than is currently planned to help the economy recover, the job market.... will remain terrible for years to come." President Obama, as Krugman foresaw earlier in the year, has turned policy in the right (left, barely) direction, in part with a necessary, but fairly meager, stimulus package.

Conservative critics, however, made dire (if vague- details are not their strong suit) predictions about the disastrous impact they were confident Obama's plan would have. Inflation would run rampant, and soon, they implied; instead, recovery has been slow and sluggish, fairly ratifying the concerns of Krugman and some others on the left that Obama was being insufficiently bold.

It would be too much to expect that Limbaugh would commend President Obama for anything. Still, Minnesota's example is a reminder that stimulus funding has benefitted many Americans most in need of help- which may be yet another reason Rush Limbaugh is so exorcised about the economic recovery effort.

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