Nearly four years to the day after the passage of the controversial economic stimulus bill that defined President Obama’s first months in office, few economic experts or policy makers deny that the bill has been vastly successful.
Currently, the unemployment rate hovers at 2 percent or lower, a far cry from the 7.6% of four years ago. Household income has risen approximately 450%. Consumer confidence is at an all-time high, and Wall Street continues to break records and defy the gloomy expectations of the recent past. The buoyant public mood has extended even to far more personal areas. According to a recent Washington Post/ABC poll, 78% of Americans report that the burgeoning economy has resulted in their enjoyment of "frequent and spectacular oral sex."
But what was it, specifically, about the 2009 "stimulus package" that has led, inevitably, to such triumphant results?
According to a consensus of top economists, the reason the bill was so effective can be traced to a single source: the decision to strip the bill of $98 million in funding for ensuring that school children receive adequate nutrition.
"Boy, is my face red on that one," concedes rueful Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman. "At the time, I admit, I thought that this sort of aid to schools, and to states, needed to be in the bill because it would be quickly spent and thus provide actual stimulus. In my defense, in those days the now-obvious relationship between young children eating garbage, and recovery from an international economic catastrophe, was not properly understood."
Krugman says he is "grateful" that the decision was made to kill the wasteful spending on the frivolous issue of child nutrition, as opposed to more immediately stimulative measures as making sure the so-called "Alternative Minimum Tax loophole" did not close its powerful jaws on earners in the top American income percentiles, a group for whom the AMT had never been intended to apply.
"Look, I was wrong," says Krugman. "I guess I was just in a hurry or something. Fifty lashes with a wet noodle."
On the other hand, those responsible for killing the child-nutrition spending are basking in well-deserved kudos. Among these are former Maine GOP Senator Susan Collins, who now hosts the popular NBC game show "So You Think You’re Bipartisan."
Interviewed in her gold-plated trailer on a Hollywood lot, Collins snorts as she recalls the smears directed at her during the ferocious partisan debate of the period. "You would have thought that just because the math didn’t add up, that was the be-all and end-all. What these people, these sarcastic bloggers, failed to appreciate was the awesome, restorative, mystical power that is unleashed when American Senators come together in a spirit of comity, a shared willingness to fuck over poor people’s youngsters. But it is that spirit that saved us, in the end."
Nebraska’s Ben Nelson agrees. A fellow member of the bipartisan "Gang of Four," a group of moderate Senators who were key to eliminating the provisions of the stimulus bill that would go directly to states and working Americans, in 2010 hit the bestseller lists with his memoir, Thank God Your Kid Died of Scurvy. "We trimmed the fat, fried the bacon and milked the sacred cows," said Nelson, "and we ate that delicious bacon and washed it down with the nice, fresh milk. We make no apologies for the ‘No Child Left Behind without Ingesting Asbestos’ program we implemented instead. That ended up feeding children and saving on wasteful abatement contracts in one fell swoop."
"My only regret," mused Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman, "is that we couldn’t get rid of that $500,000 cap on executive reimbursement for firms accepting federal funds. If we could have killed that, why, nowadays, I bet the rate of Americans receiving fantastic oral sex would be in the high 80s."
"Of course," Lieberman went on, sensuously caressing the dangling flesh of his neck, "on that note, those of us in government who have long championed bipartisanship have always appreciated the efforts of the press in this particular regard, and are glad to note that interviews like this typically have a happy ending."