Biden wants to ‘set the record straight’

BIDEN WANTS TO ‘SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT’…. The administration’s conservative detractors, throughout the Spring and early Summer, had a consistent line on the stimulus package: this isn’t going to work. Earlier this month, the line shifted a bit, and was no longer speculative. Recovery efforts, the right had decided, were already a failure.

In fact, as part of the public relations offensive, Republicans and conservative activists started shaping their attacks as if the stimulus’ failure was a foregone conclusion. “What should we do now that we know the stimulus didn’t work?” they asked. “Who can we blame for the lack of success?”

Well aware of how memes work, White House officials seem to appreciate the need to push back against this, before it’s the media’s preferred conventional wisdom. A concerted defense of the recovery efforts seemed to begin in earnest in a couple of weeks ago — making clear that the administration wouldn’t concede an inch to those who helped create the economic collapse in the first place — and will apparently continue.

To that end, Vice President Biden has a piece in the New York Times today, noting that he wants to “set the record straight” because “the nature of the Recovery Act remains misunderstood by many, and misconstrued by others.”

The op-ed doesn’t necessarily break new ground for those who keep up on current events — the stimulus package cut taxes, helps states, saves and creates jobs, invests in infrastructure — but it’s a fairly persuasive overview.

The Recovery Act is not the cure for all our economic ills — no single piece of legislation could be. But how many government initiatives can point to both large numbers of projects coming in under budget and a Government Accountability Office finding that we are ahead of schedule in key areas?

It is true that the act’s effort to address multiple problems simultaneously makes it an easy target for second-guessing. Critics have argued that the tax cuts are too small (or too large); that too much (or not enough) aid is going to rural areas; that too little (or too much) is being spent on roads. Recently, some have even criticized the act for helping support soup kitchens and food banks.

But the way I see it, our balanced approach recognizes that there is no silver bullet, no single thing, that can address the many and complex needs of America’s vast economy. We need relief, recovery and reinvestment to cope with our multifaceted crisis — and only 159 days after it was signed by President Obama, the Recovery Act is already at work providing all three.

Biden twice mentions projects coming in “under budget,” which, under the circumstances, isn’t exactly the best argument to make in the context of government stimulus. Nevertheless, the larger pitch is a good one, and the larger point — the administration isn’t going to back down in defending the recovery efforts — remains clear.