Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

The bright side of the stimulus

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about President Barack Obama’s stimulus package lately and I have officially changed my mind. I almost like the implications of this ‘stimulus’ now.

Maybe my conservative instincts blinded me when I initially reacted to the $800 billion dollar stimulus package Obama and the Democrats pushed through. Maybe that $45 million for the removal of fish passage barriers is really a big job creator. Maybe the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office was wrong when it found that the Senate stimulus bill would have a ‘negligible’ effect on jobs by 2011 and would hurt growth and prosperity in our economy over the next decade.

After all, although Barack was just a state senator four years ago and has virtually zero executive experiences, he knows what he’s doing. The media told me so during the campaign.

Well, maybe not. What I actually like about the stimulus is not the potential economic implications ‘- those are clearly horrid ‘- but the potential political implications.

The creation of this bill is giving Republicans a great opportunity to get back to the fundamentals of conservatism and to regain the support of the American public. During the Bush era, Republicans lost their conservative roots and approved drastic increases in the size of government and government spending.

To give an idea of just how lost the party became, Bush and McCain actually approved of the $700 billion dollar bailout in the fall. It was tough for Republican candidates to run their campaigns on cutting spending when they oversaw a massive increase in spending during the Bush era. And, because of this lack of direction, Republicans lost the House, Senate and White House over the last four years.

But now, Barack’s platform for change ‘- mostly towards socialism ‘- has seemingly brought hope not just to his adoring fans but also to an unlikely source, the GOP.

Republicans rallied against this stimulus bill and exposed it for what it mostly is, wasteful spending. As the days passed and Republicans exposed more and more of the ‘stimulus’ the more American support disintegrated. Republicans are finally doing what McCain failed to do during the election, outline a clear difference in economic policy amongst liberals and conservatives. And, wouldn’t you know it, but the message is resonating with the American public. According to CBS News polling, American support for the stimulus package has fallen approximately 12 points in the past month.

Both Obama and the Democrats are taking a major risk endorsing this stimulus package with no support from Republicans and wavering support of the public. They know that if this stimulus package fails the American public will hold Democrats responsible. Its failure would undoubtedly equate to a one-term presidency.

But if there’s one thing Barack knows how to do, its how to manipulate public opinion. Just think about how he’s presented the economy so far. He has portrayed it as possibly the worst economic situation ever. He’s compared it to the Great Depression so many times that most people can’t tell whether or not we’re currently living in the actual Great Depression.

Why does he do this? I have a couple obvious reasons. The first is to scare people into supporting his stimulus package. If he can convince the public that our situation is so dire that we need to do something massive, no one will question the details of it. The second reason he portrays the economy as he does is because he wants to drop the expectations bar for his presidency as low as possible. That way, if for some reason this stimulus actually has success to any degree, he will be hyped up as even more of a savior because he exceeded hope and expectations.

Just imagine if all Barack did was talk up the economy and the stimulus just ended up giving it a minor boost, would anyone care? But if everyone thinks the economy is the worst since the Great Depression and it manages a minor boost or even fully recovers? Wow, that’s much more impressive.

What if the stimulus fails? Well, I already know that reaction too. That’s Bush’s fault. The mess he left for Obama was just too big to clean up in four years and that’s why he needs to be re-elected in 2012.

It is clear that the worse Americans perceive the economy to be, is better off than Obama is letting on. That’s why the president and the media have been doing their best to emphasize pessimism before this stimulus is put into action.

What’s also clear is the inevitable failure of this ‘stimulus’ is going to be the sole blame of the Democrats. Knowing that, Republicans are going to have a major opportunity to save this country from socialism and re-take power in 2010 and 2012. Like I said, I have rethought my position. I like the stimulus package.

Alex Perry is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at [email protected].

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