Megan McArdle writes:
There's a lot of sadness on liberal blogs these days. What happened to
Hope and Change? Climate change is coming sometime next year, maybe.
Financial regulation also isn't coming anytime soon, and what's
proposed is the minimum set of politically feasible propositions rather
than a sweeping overhaul. And health care?
There is more at the link and I suspect it is mostly or fully correct. Here is Ezra on health care reform and the very big chance that it might fail. I'd just like to repeat a simple question I asked at the beginning of the Obama administration: which would you rather have, the fiscal stimulus or $775 billion in public health programs?
Even better, how about $300 billion in stimulus — the immediate stuff like aid to state governments — and $475 billion in public health programs?
At the time no one except a few progressives thought such a question was particularly relevant.
Note that the economy has seemed to stabilize, more or less, and well under ten percent of the stimulus money has been spent to date. Moving forward, if no further major programs will be put into place, how would you like to spend the rest of that cash?
And I don't mean this post as a poke at Democrats in particular. Conservatives, libertarians, etc. all commit their own versions of this error, at least if they find their way to power. The basic mechanism is simply that policy advocates underestimate the opportunity costs of the measures they propose, as they tend to see those measures as more "win-win" than others are willing to believe.