“If It Ain’t Broke, Fix It Till It Is”

My father–a career-long civil servant–used to joke that the federal government’s motto should be “if it ain’t broke, fix it till it is.”

That may not be the government’s motto, but it’s certainly the GOP credo.

We know that President Obama’s economic policies are working–the stimulus stimulated, the recession ended, the employment situation is improving.

And yet, conservatives want to end those successful policies–they want to cut off the unspent stimulus money instead of letting it go toward creating new jobs, they want to end deficit spending even though growing the economy is a far more pressing concern than the debt.

If we listen to conservatives our economy will collapse once again and all the hard-fought gains our economy recently made will be lost.

As Paul Krugman writes:

The next employment report could show the economy adding jobs for the first time in two years. The next G.D.P. report is likely to show solid growth in late 2009. There will be lots of bullish commentary — and the calls we’re already hearing for an end to stimulus, for reversing the steps the government and the Federal Reserve took to prop up the economy, will grow even louder.

But if those calls are heeded, we’ll be repeating the great mistake of 1937, when the Fed and the Roosevelt administration decided that the Great Depression was over, that it was time for the economy to throw away its crutches. Spending was cut back, monetary policy was tightened — and the economy promptly plunged back into the depths.

[Emphasis mine]

Imagine our economy as a person with a broken leg–in order to fix their injury you put them on crutches, put a cast on them, etc.

If you pull the cast off and throw the crutches away too early, you risk making the injury worse–you have to give it time to heal.

The same goes for our economy–you have to give Obama’s policies time to work; you have to give the economy time to grow.

If we end those pro-growth policies too early then the economy will backslide.  Once our economy is stable and growing, then we can worry about spending and the debt.

If we capitulate to the “if it ain’t broke, fix it till it is” mindset then we will face years and years of additional economic suffering–conservatives were wrong in 1937 and they’re wrong now.