Jared Bernstein defends Larry Summers:
Summers and Stimulus, by Jared Bernstein: Ryan Lizza has a great piece out on President Obama’s decision making processes though many of the toughest issues he’s faced. ... He even links to one of key economic memos, and here, on one specific point, I’d like to offer a different, and I think more accurate, angle to Lizza’s take.
Throughout the article, Lizza supports the view that economic adviser Larry Summers was on the side of doing less in terms of stimulus against those of us who argued for doing more. Not so. ... Rather than discouraging the President from doing more, I recall his position as being much like he describes in the memo...:
“The rule that it is better to err on the side of doing too much rather than too little should apply forcefully to the overall set of economic proposals.”
I’m not saying we did enough, but I am saying Larry was among those who recognized the urgency of the Keynesian imperative. And not just in January of 2009, but for the duration of his tenure. ...
What about the charge that, as Krugman puts it:
[Summers et al believed that] if the stimulus is too big, we’ll have trouble scaling it back, but if it’s too small, we can always go back to Congress for more. That was deeply naive — and I said so in real time.
The reply is:
And yes, Larry was wrong, as was I and many others, that it would be easier to add than subtract. In fact, the evolution of that view is at the heart of the Lizza’s trenchant analysis, which at its core is an anatomy of the level of partisanship with which we are currently stuck.
It’s fair to say that too few of us recognized that dynamic coming out of the gate. It’s also fair to say that such die-hard, mindless opposition by those whose primary goal is to defeat the President is…um…antithetical to good government, to put it nicely.
The fact that they'd face "die-hard, mindless opposition" from Republicans shouldn't have come as a surprise. Krugman and others warned about that as well.