In his most recent column, "Lost Decade Looming," Paul Krugman bemoans the fact that "fear of imaginary threats has prevented any effective response to the real danger facing our economy."
Even though Obama administration economists probably agree with Krugman that what the U.S. economy needs most right now, as it faces high unemployment, excess capacity, and perilously low inflation, is more stimulus, "they know that such a plan would have no chance of getting through a Congress that has been spooked by the deficit hawks."
I'm sure that fear of deficits motivates some members of Congress. But as Krugman well knows, the Republican party fears a much scarier nightmare than red ink. Republicans are afraid of effective government. The worst thing that could happen for the Republican party is evidence that activist government works; that problems can be solved.
And it's not an imaginary threat. It's real.