Wednesday, February 04, 2009

GOP Sticking To Failures On Economics

I am not convinced a legislative process in Washington can help repair the nation's economic woes - but I do know the whining and moaning from the leaders of the Republicans - Rush Limbaugh and his ilk - are based in (at best) half truths and mindless fear that any stimulus package might actually work.

Getting factual information on the elements of the plan (which are under constant improvement) are lost in the mindless, pointless babble of anti-Obama screeds of "Disaster!!"

Via Washington Monthly, a couple of posts of note:

Watching the reaction from Republicans and most news outlets, I keep thinking of an analogy. There's a nine-alarm fire, and Obama's the fire chief. He wants to send the cavalry, hoping to save lives and contain the fire from spreading out of control, while simultaneously taking fire-prevention steps for the future. Soon, Republicans start wondering if 2% of the tools on the fire-engines are entirely necessary for fighting the fire. Democrats think nine trucks is an excessive number, and maybe if Obama sent seven, it'll make Republicans happier. (Said Sen. Ben Nelson, "I don't know, hundreds of gallons of water sounds like an awful lot.")

Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Lou Dobbs, and Joe Scarborough try to convince the community that Obama is making a big mistake trying to put out a fire with water, which is just socialism in disguise.

Conservatives want to know why Obama won't just give people a tax cut, so the public can buy fire-extinguishers, axes, and Dalmatians of their own. The Washington Post runs four op-eds from Amity Shlaes, arguing that Fire Chief Roosevelt overreacted during the last nine-alarm fire, and it would have gone out on its own if he'd just left it alone.

And while the fire keeps burning, the Senate wants to figure out how to address the fire in a way that costs less and satisfies the concerns of "centrists."

And President Obama has an uphill battle against .... well, simply against the constant PR machine which can not accept the fact that voters rejected the GOP leadership and their failures. Responding to questions from Charlie Gibson via ABC:

Well, Charlie, if you take a look at the bill, the fact is, there are no earmarks in this bill, which, by the way, some of the critics can't claim for legislation they've voted for over the last eight years. There's no earmarks in it. We've made sure that there aren't individual pork projects in there.

"The criticisms have generally been around some policy initiatives that were placed in the bill that I think are actually good policy, but some people may say is not going to actually stimulate jobs quickly enough. I think that there's legitimate room for working through those issues over the next several weeks to make sure that we get the best possible bill. But here's the thing that I think we have to understand. The economy is in desperate straits. What I won't do is adopt the same economic theories that helped land us in the worst economy since the Great Depression. What I will do is work with anybody of good faith to make sure that we can come up with the best possible package to not only create jobs and provide support to families, but also to lay the groundwork for long-term economic growth."

(Gibson then misquoted the Congressional Budget Office, before asking if Obama would accept more infrastructure investment, and more concessions to make Republicans happy.)

"Well, keep in mind, for example, some want to put more infrastructure in the bill, and they're also complaining that it doesn't spin out fast enough. In some cases, there are contradictions there. I mean, we may want to spend on a whole bunch of great infrastructure, but it may take seven or eight years to do it, in which case we're vulnerable for the criticism that it's not spinning out fast enough. I think that in a package of this sort, that has to go to Congress with 535 opinions, at least, then there's going to be some give and take.

"What I've said is that any good idea thrown out there to improve this legislation I'm for. But I want to be absolutely clear here that the overwhelming bulk of the package is sound, is designed to put people back to work, help states that are in desperate straits, help families who are losing jobs and health care, and it's designed to make sure that we've got green energy jobs for the future. In fact, most of the programs that have been criticized as part of this package amount to less than one percent of the overall package. And it makes for good copy, but here's the thing -- we can't afford to play the usual politics at a time when the economy continues to worsen."

As I said, I am not sure there is a strong legislative ability to correct the economy. But rather than actual, open-minded debate, we get crap like this from Republican Phil Roe of Tennessee's 1st District:

$50 million on the National Endowment of the Arts. Whatever one believes about spending taxpayer money on the arts, shouldn’t we all be able to agree that it shouldn’t be done when our country is facing trillion dollar deficits and that it’s not an economic stimulus."

Roe is plain wrong and deeply unaware that arts programs create and expand jobs. Good Lord, even if he refuses to support the cultural arts programs and centers which exist throughout East Tennessee -- then does he think that spending by audiences attending cultural programs somehow evaporates from the economy? Maybe he thinks that some artist buying brushes or canvases or paint or expanding arts programs in public schools mysteriously vanishes from the economy and are sucked up by nefarious black market businesses which operate through the Russian mafia?

The more this type of dreck is slapped around as if it had merit, the more damage their efforts create.

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