President Obama has reason to celebrate. The deal delivers short-term economic stimulus, and it does so at the very time he wants it most, before the 2012 elections. But the long term health of our great engine of prosperity will remain very much in doubt.
Is this a straw in the wind? Certainly if anybody has reason to oppose a deal that will increase economic growth in 2012, it's the guy who hopes to be running against the incumbent in 2012. Charles Krauthammer's column on the deal made a similar point:
In the deal struck this week, the president negotiated the biggest stimulus in American history, larger than his $814 billion 2009 stimulus package. It will pump a trillion borrowed Chinese dollars into the U.S. economy over the next two years - which just happen to be the two years of the run-up to the next presidential election. ...
At great cost that will have to be paid after this newest free lunch, the package will add as much as 1 percent to GDP and lower the unemployment rate by about 1.5 percentage points. That could easily be the difference between victory and defeat in 2012.
Notice that neither Romnmey nor Krauthammer quite say that the growth-boosting effects of the deal are a reason to oppose it. Rather they argue that the higher growth isn't worth the budgetary cost, making it surely the first time either one of them has rejected a debnt-financed tax cut on the basis of its effects on the national debt. It will be interesting to watch anti-deal Republicans try to make their case by hinting at electoral ramifications without coming out and saying so directly.