As the White House builds a second stimulus - (just don't call it a stimulus) - I love how photographer Pete Souza managed to capture a fitting, somewhat saddening scrap of imagery for TIME Magazine.
The President, head down, advisors in tow, is framed, overwhelmed almost, by...the Red Room.
I'm generally quite opposed to a second stimulus due its potential to further damage the nation's fiscal standing in the short and long term. We are already drowning in red. The first stimulus, an overt measure, was poorly done. That inspires a good deal of trepidation at the prospect of a second measure going under the radar, so to speak, with a different, more appealing appellation, even if the total dollar figure mentioned (100 billion) is about 1/8 the size of the first stimulus package.
Still, I'm very much willing to look at the nature of this second stimulus. Some of the measures being discussed may represent better options, at least, than much of what comprised the first stimulus. Passing a pared down, heavily targeted, bipartisan measure with a high likelihood of catalyzing a short-term turnaround on a few fronts should not automatically be off the table.
But the problem is that this is how the first stimulus should have gone. And it didn't. So anything passed at this point, no matter how well honed it is, must be considered in light of what's already been passed to address the crisis - the financial bailout, the stimulus, the auto bailout, the budget, etc. That makes almost any measure look more unattractive at this point than it otherwise would.
In all of this, a final and crucial consideration must also be a preference for empowering individuals, families, and businesses to be intrepid in forging their own recoveries. There is a liberty impact at stake in stimulus policies, not just an economic impact. I would challenge lawmakers and the administration to seek creative solutions that incentivize private actors to step back into the market without reliance on traditional Keynesian pump priming.