When President Obama took office in 2009 the United States was quickly sliding into the second worse economic recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

The stock market had crashed, banks had stopped lending and unemployment was rapidly increasing due to a financial meltdown on Wall Street.

Obama had won a decisive victory over John McCain in November 2008, campaigning heavily on an economic stimulus plan.

Yet, when he got into office Republicans snubbed his efforts to negotiate legislation, in some cases refusing to even meet with him.

His $787 billion plan, which included tax cuts, business loans and public works projects, was passed by Democrats without a single Republican vote in the House and only three in the Senate.

With time, most economists have come to agree that the plan worked. It got the economy moving, or at least stopped it from getting worse, and by the time Obama had left office, unemployment had been cut in half.

Compare all that to what is happening in Washington today.

With the coronavirus pandemic closing businesses, slowing spending, and causing unemployment to rise, both Democrats and Republicans are falling all over each other to see who can propose the biggest, boldest stimulus plan.

There is some squabbling over the details of a $1 trillion plan, but there is no disagreement it is needed.

There is zero chance either party will vote as a block against it.

With the Obama plan, Republicans complained it would increase the deficit. It did temporarily, but then the deficit began to shrink as the economy and tax revenue improved.

Today, after three and a half years of wild deficit spending and tax cuts mostly for the rich, there is no concern about what a much larger stimulus plan will do to debt and deficits.

The difference in the partisan response to the two economic crises is remarkable.

Elsewhere in politics

  • Some candidates for office in the fall elections are concerned social distancing in response to coronavirus will prevent them from collecting the signatures necessary to qualify for the ballot.

They are now unable to attend meetings or stand in front of supermarkets collecting signatures.

There has been no move on Beacon Hill to extend the deadlines.

  • Trump’s belated attempts to rebrand the coronavirus as the China virus is classic Trump.

It gets people arguing about a side point, diverts attention from his administration’s failure to recognize the danger of the virus early on, and, in a classic move, blames the dreaded foreigners for the problem.

One reporter at the White House said she could see Trump’s talking points at a press conference and he had crossed out the word coronavirus and wrote in China virus.

Jim Hand may be reached at 508-236-0399 or jhand@thesunchronicle.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @TSCpolitics.

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