Conservative Keynesians

At Claremont-McKenna College last night, my thoughts on the stimulus package vote this week crystallized a little - they can do that when a bunch of feisty undergraduates are asking good questions. On the one hand, I'm delighted that the GOP has rediscovered fiscal conservatism after a long period of Bush insanity. On the other hand, they may have chosen the one moment in recent history when fiscal conservatism could be disastrous. Yes, I can understand why Obama's bizarre idea of having Rahm Emmanuel deal with the House GOP back-fired (shouldn't he just run the White House?). But I also see that Obama won the last election, the public rightly expects a real boost to demand, and more tax cuts simply won't do enough.

So what to do? This is the smartest GOP approach I've seen yet:

Instead of fighting Dems on the dollar amount of spending, knowing that we would lose that fight in any event, we could have stood with Obama and called for large high-tech infrastructure projects that would employ large numbers of minorities in construction and white collar suburbanites in development. These projects (high speed rail corridors as an example) would also capture the imagination of the green close-in suburbs that are turning viciously against the GOP and have the strategic benefit of jamming up the young Dem members (Webb/Warner/Hagan/McCaskill) who depended on these voters for their victories.

Bring on the long term infrastructure investment.