Matt Bai and the Wonders of Google.

In his latest New York Times piece on President Obama's unpopularity, Matt Bai continues to ignore the fact that there is an economy, and it isn't very good:

In proposing an economic package this week that includes spending $50 billion on roads, rail lines and other projects, President Obama opened the fall election season by doing what he has done from the first days of his administration: arguing that, in effect, stimulating the economy today and reordering it for decades to come are basically the same thing.

By consistently conflating short-term and long-term economic goals, the president and his Democratic Party may have missed an opportunity to explain the crucial difference between the two, and they have all but ensured that voters this fall will give them credit for neither.

Later on, Bai elaborates on his claim that Obama failed to explain the distinctions between short-term and long-term economic goals. He writes that Obama missed a "teachable moment about the need for long-term investment." Of course, as Jonathan Chait noted in his post on Bai's article, this isn't actually true. Obama made this case on multiple occasions: in his January 8, 2009, speech outlining his stimulus plan, in his inaugural speech, and in his State of the Union speech from earlier this year. What's more, it's a distinction he explains whenever he talks about stimulus spending. Not to sound flip, but it doesn't take more than a quick Google search to find any of this.

On the whole, I really doubt that voters are "confused" about the difference between short-term and long-term stimulus. Insofar that voters don't credit Democrats with passing stimulus and keeping the economy out of a depression, it's because most Americans are still stuck in an economy with high unemployment and low growth. For voters, the "what ifs" of politics are irrelevant; what matters is that they are hurting, and the president's policies weren't ambitious enough to prevent it.

-- Jamelle Bouie

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