Monday, February 02, 2009

Democrats, Republicans and Geeks

There was an interesting interaction on the latest This Week with George Stephanopoulos, where you had Sen. Jim DeMint, Eric Schmidt and Rep. Barney Frank, among others, talking about the stimulus plan. Here's the first exchange:

SCHMIDT: I'm sure this stuff is going to get fixed by -- by you guys, because you're working very hard on it...

DEMINT: I wouldn't count on it.

SCHMIDT: And, by the way, you guys need to get this thing fixed. What we need is very simple. We need some form of a jobs program, something that causes jobs to get created, and we need credit to get -- get going again. That's what we should be talking about as a country.


SCHMIDT: And we can debate exactly how to do it, but get it going now.

FRANK: Well, excuse me. You (inaudible) it's called democracy, Eric. I'm sorry, but it's inevitable.

And then at the end of the conversation:

SCHMIDT: Chairman, the fact of the matter is, that if the government simply told everybody what you all were doing [by documenting the content on the website]...


SCHMIDT: ... and then people could track it and figure out whether it's actually working...


FRANK: But we are going to do that.

SCHMIDT: ... we could get through these classic fights that you all have.

STEPHANOPOULOS: As you know...

FRANK: Well, no, I differ -- differ with you on that. Please. Let's not obviate democracy. There are legitimate different philosophical differences between Jim DeMint and myself. Please don't treat them as some sideshow.

This just boggles my mind. Eric Schmidt is proposing a simple concept: Thoroughly document what you are going to do, do it, review how successful it was, and change it. It's that simple.

And how does Representative Barney Frank respond? You can't do that, you have to have a philosophical debate. Are you kidding me?

Schmidt is effectively suggesting an iterative approach to fixing our economy. I like it. It's sane. It's logical. And yet, even this, we can't agree on.

Seems to me that between Frank's interest in avoiding logic and DeMint's can't do attitude, we're screwed.

Look, this stimulus thing isn't that hard to do. Here's what we have to do:

  • Open up a new Google Doc spreadsheet
  • Create three columns: one for the name of the program, one for how many jobs it will create, and one for how it will positively impact jobs
  • Now, for each program you want to create, fill in a row in the spreadsheet
  • Have a logical debate on each program: does it create a significant number of jobs or does it impact job creation? If it does, whoo!, keep it in the package. If not, cut it.
  • For extra points, involve the whole country, and Ask Us

This does not need to be about philosophy and who can argue better than the other. This should be about what will create new jobs. It's that simple. And yet, I'm watching my own party hose it up. Argh.

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