Nebraska vs. the “stimulus”

Earlier this week, the Nebraska daily News Update included this opening passage:

We have read a good deal and waited a long time before commenting on the stimulus plan coming from President Obama and Congress. Our view: Whatta’ crock of baloney! The feds appear to be doing nothing more than hitting the reset button for the banks that made the economic mess. Note also, the number of investment banks which have suddenly become holding companies, thus allowing them access to more federal dollars.

I replied, “How much did you read before commenting on the stimulus? Your criticisms are of TARP, a completely separate program.”

I received a response telling me to keep reading about what the banks did. I replied, “Oh I’ve been keeping up on my TARP / stimulus news, but unless something huge and drastic has happened in those past few weeks, the banking / treasury / reserve side of the recovery plans are the realm of TARP. If you have a link that says otherwise, I’d be happy to read it. I always like learning more.”

I never did get a response. But today’s News Update includes this:

Last week, we offered some thoughts in this space about the stimulus package, most especially about how its various elements applied to banks and other financial institutions. Our thought was that it seems Congress and the administration are simply pushing the “reset” button for the big institutions. The diversity of readers was soon made manifest. Some of you wrote to say things like “Amen! and “Right on!” Some others among you wrote to say that was clearly peddling “right-wing garbage,” and unfairly carping at the Obama administration. Our thought for each side: A mind is a terrible thing to close.

This particular closed mind is still waiting for information on how the stimulus package is pumping cash into the banks. There very well may be a banking component to February’s stimulus package, in which case there’s a big plate of crow with my name on it, but if there was, I have yet to hear about it.

EDIT: To be fair, maybe is operating from its own colloquial definition of “the stimulus” and “its various components,” which they’ve decided would include not just the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (known as “the stimulus”) but also the Troubled Assets Relief Program (which was designed to stabilize the banks, so “hitting the reset button” isn’t exactly a damning criticism). If that’s their operating definition, it seems a bit disingenuous to label it as President Obama’s, given that TARP originated during the last months of the Bush administration.

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