Obama has been getting aggressive lately about calling out the Republicans and trying to blame the weak economy on them.
But there’s a risk to this strategy: If the President keeps talking about how the economy is weak, then maybe people who thought the economy was OK (and apparently a fair number still do, as evidenced by August’s Consumer Confidence Index) might get the idea that things aren’t so hot. Maybe they’ll think: Sure I have a job now, but just in case, I better retrench and cut up my credit card.
So it’s for this reason that White House critics (mainly from the left) are frustrated by the “loose lips” on the part of some administration staffers.
Yesterday we mentioned Austan Goolsbee’s comment about how the economy was at some risk of sliding into a double dip.
Now it’s Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.
Everyone’s picking on him for comments he made about the stimulus yesterday:
Asked if the stimulus bill was too small, [White House press secretary Robert] Gibbs says: “I think it makes sense to step back just for a second. … Nobody had, in January of 2009, a sufficient grasp of … what we were facing.” He adds that any stimulus was “unlikely to fill” the hole the financial meltdown created.
“What the Recovery Act did was prevent us from sliding even into a deeper recession with greater economic contraction, with greater job loss than we have experienced because of it,” he says.
This line makes Krugman angry. Why? Because, says the Nobel Laurreate, he was SCREAMING at the top of his longs in early 2009 that the stimulus needed to be much bigger (Megan McArdle calculated yesterday that Krugman probably would’ve needed a $4.5 trillion stimulus to be happy).
But beyond that, The White House just feels off-message, and Gibbs makes it hard to argue for more stimulus when he’s saying that any stimulus was “unlikely” to solve the problem.
OK, then what does The White House actually want?
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