Bartlett argues a sole focus on unemployment in the president's first two years could have won a bigger or a second stimulus. It's a little too Captain Hindsight for my taste - and I don't think it would have made much of a difference to the results last Tuesday, whereas access to health insurance for people with pre-existing conditions will make a lot of difference to people's, you know, lives for the indefinite future. This tactical point, however, is well-taken and seems to have been internalized by the president:
The political problem is that by offering his tax credit up front, rather than negotiating with Republicans on inclusion of a tax cut in the stimulus package, he lost an opportunity to possibly buy their support. One idea Republicans were keen on, that Democrats might have supported, was a temporary cut or suspension of the payroll tax, which could have been more effective in stimulating employment than the tax credit. In the event that Republicans refused to negotiate, the money consumed by the tax cut could have been reprogrammed into more economically effective public works.
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