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Maybe Obama Isn't Aiming Too Low

Last week I wondered if the $675-$775 billion range Obama's aides are tossing around for the stimulus package might be too timid, given that it's on the low side of what most economists deem necessary. But a couple of stories out this weekend suggest Obamaland sees those figures as a floor, not a ceiling. The Times reports that, "Obama advisers have said the package will carry a total cost of at least $775 billion." Politico's Mike Allen elaborates:

Obama aides want a starting point of $675 billion to $775 billion over two years, but say they recognize it could grow to $850 billion as legislators add goodies.

Obama aides want to keep it under $1 trillion, although some lawmakers think the final bill could be nearing that psychological barrier. 

That's good news, more or less--the caveat being that the goodies Congress adds could be less effective as stimulus. On the other hand, the Obama people say they're going to be vigilant about add-ons that have little economic rationale. And, given the likely wind at his back during the first several weeks of his presidency, Obama may pull it off.

--Noam Scheiber