Get ready for the battle over the third stimulus

It looks like Obama in moving towards a third stimulus package. Of course, the Obama administration doesn't want to count the $26 billion jobs bill as a stimulus.

Obama dismissed a reporter who asked if he regrets calling the past months the “summer of recovery.” “I don’t regret the notion that we are moving forward because of the steps that we’ve taken,” he said. “We are moving in the right direction. We just have to speed it up.”

It is getting tiring hearing that the economy would have been worse if it weren't for the stimulus. If we only had spent more money, things would have been fine they claim. Few discuss the theory for why the stimulus would increase unemployment. So what is in store this next week?

The few things that might pass Congress — such as a payroll tax holiday or extended research-and-development tax credits — won’t work, or at least not before November’s midterm elections, when Democrats face potentially devastating losses.

And the few things that might work — such as an aggressive new infrastructure spending bill — can’t pass, uniformly viewed as politically impossible at a time of trillion-dollar-plus deficits.

What to do? If you’re President Barack Obama, you go out and talk about the economy — in Milwaukee on Monday, Cleveland on Wednesday and at a White House news conference Friday. He’s expected to propose some new business tax breaks next week, including possibly a payroll tax break and R&D credits, but the White House said no final decisions have been made. . . . .

Of course, the Obama people don't even want to call this new bill a second stimulus.

The White House press office on Thursday refused to say how much a financial package might be, other than to say it won’t be a “second stimulus.” But the administration will have a tough time selling nearly any package to terrified, Obama-phobic Hill Democrats who increasingly blame the president – and his ambitious, expensive legislative agenda – for their dismal prospects this November. . . . .

The R-and-D tax cut, which Congressional Democrats have already considered would, for example, be paid for by closing overseas corporate loopholes. . . . .

Even NPR sorta gets it:

This was supposed to be the season the economy heated up, thanks to a wave of public works projects, funded by the government's stimulus program. But summer is coming to an end, and the recovery has not taken root. (The Labor Department on Friday reported a slight rise in the unemployment rate to 9.6 percent in August as more people were looking for work.)

And before long, stimulus dollars will be fading like autumn leaves.

None of that is encouraging for President Obama, who launched the summer with a crew in hard hats in Columbus, Ohio, on June 18.

"Today, I return to Columbus to mark a milestone on the road to recovery: the 10,000th project launched under the Recovery Act," Obama said, announcing a $15 million effort to widen a roadway and add bike lanes.

Recovery summer was partly designed to recover the reputation of the government's $787 billion stimulus program. While many economists believe that program has worked to boost employment, the public is unimpressed. Advisers say by front-loading the stimulus with tax cuts and aid to states, they were able to get the money out quickly, but at the expense of visibility. . . .

A new Fox News poll indicates that Americans have little confidence that Obama's new plan will work any better. I wish that these polls would give several options on the impact of the stimulus. Right now they just as if the stimulus helped or not, but not whether it did harm.

The latest Fox News poll shows that out of eleven concerns, the greatest one is the nation’s economy, with nearly all voters either extremely (46 percent) or very (47 percent) concerned.

Unemployment is a nearly equal concern (43 percent extremely and 49 percent very).

In addition, more than 9 in 10 voters are concerned about “the future of the country” (43 percent extremely and 48 percent very concerned).

Fewer voters -- though still sizable numbers -- are as worried about their own personal economic situation. The poll finds that 37 percent of voters are extremely (19 percent) or very worried (18 percent) about losing their job. However, two-thirds are concerned about being able to pay their bills (32 extremely and 34 percent very). . . .

When asked whether the Obama administration has made the economy better or worse, 47 percent feel the economy is worse because of the administration’s efforts while 36 percent say the economy is better.

Not surprisingly, Democrats (63 percent) are more likely than Republicans (8 percent) to say the Obama administration has made the economy better. Slightly more independents feel Obama has made the economy worse than better (43 percent compared to 37 percent).

A majority -- 57 percent -- think the $800 billion dollar economic stimulus plan hasn’t worked. Just over one in three -- 37 percent -- think it has helped the economy.

There has been some discussion whether the stimulus was large enough to give the economy the boost it needed. Still, just 24 percent would favor another stimulus plan. Most -- 70 percent -- oppose a second stimulus. That includes 52 percent of Democrats, 73 percent of independents and 87 percent of Republicans.

With the economic recovery seemingly stalled, only 32 percent of voters are confident the Obama administration can handle the economy. Nearly twice as many -- 61 percent -- are concerned about the administration’s ability to deal with the situation. Political independents, the key swing group in most elections, are much more likely to be concerned (64 percent) than confident (24 percent). . . .

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