I like the question that Tommywonk asked--back a few days ago when the authorization stood at only 7.8 Trillion (the good old days:
Doesn't this money have to come from somewhere? Is the government just printing money? How does this enormous expansion of lending and investment affect the value of the dollar?
Generally speaking, pumping fiat money into an economy overheats it, producing inflation. Yet the clear spectre haunting our various economic obergruppenfuehrers is deflation.
I begin to suspect that they are in the same position as an addict attempting to use speed to counteract the effects of the barbiturates she just ingested. If she can keep the balance between the upper and the downer just right, she'll pass herself off as something approaching functional ... until the urine test.
We haven't gotten our minds around the enormity of the whole Great Meltdown scam yet.
Here's my chief evidence: LiberalGeek (who, along with Tommywonk, is a leading contender for Delaware's Brightest Blogger) has a recent post at DelawareLiberal suggesting that the best way to bail-out the Big Three without actually handing them $30 Billion in cash is for the Feds to take over their healthcare responsibilities. This would thus backdoor into universal healthcare with the labor unions signed up for the ride. (This is an idea that scares me, because I can see somebody actually running with it.) But LG misses the two key points: the $30 Billion ain't real money (which healthcare actually requires, no matter how you organize the system), and in terms of real money Uncle Sam is just about flat busted broke.
The grim reality for President-elect Obama is this: most of his room to maneuver on anything but the Great Meltdown has been pre-limited by the fact that we're out of money, and you can't keep faking it forever. So while there may be a few cosmetic moves toward healthcare reform, Federal single-payer or even a Federal version of the Massachusetts plan is not going to be coming about in the next two years, no matter who thinks there is suddenly a consensus for it.
On domestic issues, look for President Obama to concentrate on the parts of his agenda that don't really cost money, like expanding hate crimes legislation, eliminating restrictions on gay adoption, or increasing regulatory controls (but not necessarily increasing the regulators to enforce them).
On foreign affairs, prepare to see some major floundering. This is not and indictment of Obama--we were due for some major floundering thanks to the past eight years no matter who inherited the office. Our ungainly over-extension both in the so-called war on terror and the Iraq boondoogle (call me back in two years and still tell me we won the war) have allowed the rest of the world to notice that the Emperor, while still half-dressed, is showing his ass. Right now, we can't really do squat besides piss and moan at Russia; we've allowed China to strategically out-invest us in Africa; we've missed the boat on the current India-Pakistan contretemps; and if this administration actually appoints somebody to the State Department who understands Latin American politics, it will be the first one to do so since Reagan propped up torturers and murderers in Honduras. (Understanding doesn't always equate with moral action.)
$8.5 Trillion: change that's going to knock us all on our ass.