Shorter Paul Krugman: "We're headed for deflation and depression, we need a really big stimulus, and if Barack Obama keeps trying to placate Republicans in the name of post-partisanship, we're all gonna be living in grass huts."
Shorter David Brooks: "There's a new coalition of moderates asking sensible questions about waste in the stimulus package, and if Barack Obama keeps trying to placate liberal interest groups and Congressman, we're all gonna continue to live in the era of extreme partisanship."
Intriguingly enough, there is one point on which both Brooks and Krugman agree -- Barack Obama has been surprisingly passive during the drafting of the stimulus bills.
I think there's a way to thread the needle. If all the moderates want is to trim the package a little, then Obama could likely get yes votes from GOP moderates. That would (just) be enough for him to claim bipartisan support, and then a package is passed. I don't think it would be large enough for Krugman's tastes, but on the other hand I'm hard-pressed to believe that ust another $100 billion in stimulus is the difference between recovery and grass huts.
This, by the way, is the most pernicious effect of the entire financial meltdown on fiscal policy. When $100 billion no longer seems like a significant sum of money, it's time for a good stiff drink.
Daniel W. Drezner is professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.