White House senior adviser David Axelrod told ABC News's Jake Tapper this weekend that getting additional stimulus dollars for states is likely not politically feasible, despite the urgings of Obama's economic team. (Scroll down for video).
"It's true that there is not a great desire [for more stimulus money], even though there is some argument for additional spending in the short-run to continue to generate economic activity," Axelrod told Tapper.
"There's not a great appetite for it, but I do think we can get additional tax relief for small businesses - that's what we want to do - additional lending for small businesses," he added.
Axelrod's comments echo a report by HuffPost's Ryan Grim, which detailed the political calculus that has led the administration to prioritize deficit reduction over job creation. The administration's apparent reticence to enter into a political fight over the issue, drew the consternation of economics professor Duncan Black (also known as the blogger Atrios):
So let's say Obama's people have correctly deduced that there's no chance in hell of getting anything through Congress. They have two basic options. First, they could get on the teevee every day and say, "This is my plan to help. Republicans in Congress won't pass it." They could hold rallies in Maine. Allies could run ads. At least people would know who is for and who is against...and just what it was that people are for or against.
Option two is back off proposals you've previously made and have Axelrod get on the teevee and say, "there is some argument for additional spending in the short-run to continue to generate economic activity."
Ezra Klein points out that the anti-stimulus tack runs counter to what academics know about election years and the economy. In general, Klein reports, deficits concerns don't tip elections significantly. And aid to states wouldn't just boost the economy, it would improve Democrats' chances in November. Here's Klein:
"In presidential elections," Princeton political scientist Larry Bartels says, "a 1 percent boost in election-year income growth has typically increased the incumbent party's vote share by about 2 percent. So an incumbent party that won 51 percent of the vote in an average economic year like 2004 would be expected to win only 46 percent in a recession year like 2008." Which is, as you may remember, pretty much exactly what happened.
Paul Krugman, added this on his blog regarding the Obama administration's approach: "I have no idea what they're thinking. It would be one thing if polls suggested a tolerable outcome in November, so that playing it safe could possibly make sense as a political strategy."
WATCH Axelrod's interview with Tapper:
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