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Borrowing from Peter to pay Paul

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The senate is trying to pass various parts of Obama's latest stimulus proposal. Senate Democrats tried to pass one part, but it failed on a 50-50 vote because Republicans didn't like how it would be paid for. Senate Republicans tried to pass another part, but the 57-43 vote also fell short of the 60 needed, because the Democrats didn't like how that part would be paid for.

But wait - isn't this supposed to be a stimulus plan? You aren't going to stimulate the economy by increasing expenditures if you just offset that by decreasing expenditures elsewhere. That's just borrowing from Peter to pay Paul.

Whether or not actual stimulus is called for, this isn't it. Rather, the proposal looks more like spoils politics - trying to reward your own constituents with money taken from the folks who didn't vote for you.

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On October 21st, 2011 06:39 am (UTC), izmirian commented:
You aren't going to stimulate the economy by increasing expenditures if you just offset that by decreasing expenditures elsewhere.

True, though my impression was that these bills would make a large one-time expenditure on creating jobs in the short term and pay that back slowly over the long term with increased taxes. You are still trading short-term stimulus for long-term anti-stimulus, but you could argue that that is desirable. In either case the effect will be small compared to the size of the economy and I suspect it's largely for political points.
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On October 21st, 2011 02:53 pm (UTC), mjperson commented:
Wait, how does something fail on a 50-50 vote? Isn't that like the *only* thing the Vice President is actually in charge of preventing?
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On October 21st, 2011 03:39 pm (UTC), psychohist replied:
It takes 60 votes to pass things in the senate because of the filibuster rules. That's why even 57 votes in favor isn't enough.

I actually think this is a good thing, as it forces a certain amount of bipartisanship under most conditions.
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On October 21st, 2011 03:41 pm (UTC), mjperson replied:
Right, for some reason I forgot about the brave new world of everything is by default filibustered that we live in now. Those idiots.
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On October 21st, 2011 04:04 pm (UTC), mjperson replied:
Actually, I probably agree with you that a 3/5 majority for regular business is not a bad thing, as it does force some amount of cooperation.

But from a process perspective, the Senate is amazingly screwed up. As best I understand it, it doesn't require 60 votes to pass something, it requires 60 votes to allow a vote to be taken. That vote, if allowed, only requires the usual 51 to actually pass the legislation. I am forced to assume this is all an unintended consequence, and given the storied history of the filibuster, it is. Regular business is intended to be easier to conduct, but they actually just broke their rules enough that it isn't any more. And don't even let me get started on the gross negligence surrounding appointment confirmations.
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