Critiquing the Critique

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From TPM Reader AJ

One of the most difficult dynamics in legislating is the seemingly never
ending critique that the good is not perfect. That argument is in constant use and is far too often an excuse to make the bad worse or not at all. As the debate heats up on the Recovery Plan, folks need to step back and get real pragmatic. As necessary as such a plan is, it is still a dangerous gamble and a deep mortgage on the future earnings of the polity, including some of whom are yet to be born.

I love Paul Krugman, but I would be much more interested in his suggestions and prescriptions than I am in his critiques (and yours too for that matter). The Recovery Plan has to thread a fine needle and deal with a bunch of conditions set in place by the Bush Administration. The Bush deficit predicted to be 1.2 Trillion this year. The Fed investment in monetary policy of almost 2 Trillion so far, the TARP use of 350 Billion with marginal or no results and a population that is largely untutored on the whys and wherefores of the economics of what went wrong and what we can realistically do to recover. Add to that the need to re-direct an already ailing economy, deal with entitlements and restructure and re-equip a fatigued military. The list goes on, schools, infrastructure, etc.

It’s time for everyone with creditable and cogent suggestions to get down in the weeds and start talking specifics. How can we spend 1 Trillion plus in a timely manner that INVESTS in the national economy and not just temporarily stimulates it. How can we come to a national consensus on what to do and when.

In my mind this economic breakdown is as dangerous and impactful as the events of 9/11 and requires a united national response just as that event did. The task of the PE is to try to forge that national consensus and plan at a time when there is ever increasing skepticism over “bailouts” in general and big ones in particular.

It’s time to, at the very least, couple your critique with constructive suggestions. I know that the role of the press is to point out the apparent and hidden factors and to raise awareness. But you (and Krugman) have an opportunity to add positive and creative input to the mix. Input that is sorely needed. If you don’t know, then find someone who you believe does and bring their point of view forward.

Anyone paying attention, by now, knows how difficult and daunting the task. And those paying attention are also aware of the complexity and intricacy of the terrain. It’s time for the chattering classes to add light and not just heat. Educate us, inform us, but also help us to see the solutions, not just the problem.

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Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.
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