COMMENTS: Obama’s Jobs Plan Only Just Heads Agenda

The networks came up with a split decision on the Story of the Day. ABC led with a security breakdown inside the Department of Homeland Security. CBS chose a huge early winter blizzard crossing the country from the desert southwest to the Great Lakes. NBC kicked off from the White House as Barack Obama proposed a second phase of fiscal stimulus to try to lower the 10% rate of unemployment. All three White House correspondents covered the President's plan and it qualified as Story of the Day.

"They do not like to use this word around here but this amounts to a second stimulus," announced NBC's Savannah Guthrie as she described the package of infrastructure projects, business tax breaks, energy efficiency subsidies and an extension of jobless benefits that will total around $150bn. CBS' Chip Reid called the package "essentially a second stimulus even though only about a third of the first stimulus has been spent or--as Republicans say--wasted." ABC's Jake Tapper told us that most of the money would be diverted from the Treasury Department's TARP fund that had initially helped high finance on Wall Street but would now target credit-starved small businesses and homebuyers.

CBS' Reid paraphrased the President's Keynesian argument for the additional $150bn in deficit spending: "What this nation needs to do is spend its way out of the recession." Then Reid paraphrased Republican criticism that "whatever the cost it is going to plunge the nation deeper into debt." That line of argument, of course, is no criticism whatsoever. If such spending did not increase the National Debt then it would not be stimulative.

NBC anchor Brian Williams checked in with CNBC's in-house economist Steve Liesman about the plan's feasibility. "The Great American Jobs Machine is sputtering right now and is not going to come back without some government assistance. Will this plan create jobs? Certainly it will create some jobs. Is it the answer to the long-term unemployment problem in this country? Almost certainly not."


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