Old Politics Frame The Stimulus Package--And Innovation Losses Out. President Obama Needs to Control The Conversation.

In times of changes, most people revert to old frameworks to interpret problems and come up with solutions. The Stimulus Bill is a great example of that—to the detriment of the US and the global economy. President Obama lost control of the bill as it went through Congress and then lost control of the way it was framed, so it fell into the partisan quagmire of left vs. right, spending vs. tax cuts.

Instead of framing the stimulus package as a way to the future, as a vehicle to create jobs based on a Creative Economy that encompasses green tech, digital infrastructure, open source collaboration and other obvious cutting edge sources of economic growth, politicians in Washington discussed it in terms of tired old politics and policies. With the world facing another Depression and after this transformative election, shame on them for doing so.

Let’s look at what is being cut in the Senate version of the bill:

The $16 billion in school construction funds would be cut, and increases for popular programs like Head Start cut in half. New school room construction is critical for building spaces that allow students to learn in a 21st century way—digitally, collaboratively. Today, kids are more technologically advanced than their teachers and learn, work and play very differently than their parents. They need different spaces and different learning atmospheres. Boo for Congress to deny kids this.

The deal would also cut back new funds committed for expanding broadband access. I’m dumbfounded by this. Broadband is the basis of all future economic growth. The US is way behind other countries.

There are cuts to improving the electrical grid. Building a smart electric grid is critical to harnessing wind power. Everyone knows this. It’s a no-brainer.

There were also cuts to spending on boosting health information technology. Health care and education are the two industries that are creating new jobs today. They will create many more new jobs in the future. Digitalizing health care records—and guaranteeing privacy—are just important for the future.

Finally, there were cuts in the tax breaks for wind and solar firms. This makes no sense, given the economic and foreign policy imperatives of our day.

Here is a more detailed list from economist Brad DeLong. The stimulus bill debate has been framed in terms of “saving” money, when we need to be spending as much at this time. It’s been framed in terms of “jobs now,” not in the future, when we need to use the money we spend now to build the foundation for the future.

It’s late now, but President Obama is beginning to explain this to the public. He should have done it earlier before these programs were cut.

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