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FiveThirtyEight

Politics

Rather devoting $1 trillion dollars to deficit spending, as Mitch McConnell warns us that Obama’s stimulus package is wont to do, perhaps instead Obama should limit the package to $675 to $775 billion and devote a significant fraction of that to tax cuts rather than spending increases.

Wait, that’s already what he’s planning on doing?

Ssssshhh. Better not tell McConnell.

The numbers we’re playing with are so large here — so large as to seem almost abstract — that one gets the sense that whatever Obama calls for, Mitch McConnell will simply call for 40% less. So if Obama calls for a $1 trillion stimulus, McConnell will call for $600 billion instead. And if Obama calls for a $800 billion stimulus, McConnell will call for $480 billion instead.

If I were Obama, and what I actually wanted was an $800 billion stimulus, I might have someone whisper some off-record comment to Adam Nagourney about a $1.2 trillion stimulus just to frame McConnell’s expectations accordingly. Then Obama can force the GOP into the position of accepting a compromise which it doesn’t really want.

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