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When it comes to stimulus ‘government is the only game in town’

Submitted by on Saturday, 14 February 2009 6 Comments
Thank God it passed.

And thank Arlen Specter, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, the only Republicans in the U.S. Congress with enough integrity to quit playing philosophical chicken, actually work on the bill and then vote for the best deal they could get. In other words, they acted like adults.

Is the $787 billion wing and a prayer perfect? Of course not. In a compromise needed to appease Specter, Snowe and Collins aid to flailing states was slashed, and that's money that could have prevent layoffs right  here, right now.

Is there pork? Of course, most notably the $8 billion Sen. Harry Reid-induced windfall for high-speed rail. Californians are excited by the prospect, but even if the whole sum went to the Golden State, it wouldn't come close to covering the $45 billion project. The high-speed rail funding actually more than tripled when the bill emerged from a conference committee that included Reid and two Californians. Hmm ...

Were unfortunate cuts made in aid to those struggling in this economy - yes, but there's still significant help, including assistance with 65 percent of COBRA payments for the unemployed.

But was it something that needed to happen? Ask the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has some street cred with the conservative set. "The bottom line is that at the end of the day, we’re going to support the legislation. Why? Because with the markets functioning so poorly, the government is the only game in town capable of jump-starting the economy."

Thank God. A prominent group of American business people demonstrates a grasp of basic economic theory, which holds that the government is indeed a player.

Now if only someone could teach that to Rush Limbaugh, who seems to think he was elected in November, and his sock puppet, Senate Republican Mitch McConnell.

The Limbaugh solution: Cut capital gains tax - anyone else tired of hearing this as the panacea? - and corporate taxes. "Then get out of the way! Once Wall Street starts ticking up 500 points a day, the rest of the private sector will follow."

Yes, and watch CEO pay escalate while middle-class wages stagnate, as they have for the past eight years.

As for McConnell, his chief role seems to be playing Senate Dittohead Leader and whining about lack of input.

All right, Mitch, start talking. Put your proposals out there - you've had just as long to draft them as Democrats have, unless you plan all along was to stubbornly defend to your ideological chastity and offer nothing more concrete than a series of "nah, don't like that" press releases about how America can tax cut its way to prosperity. The latter is all that's on you Web site right now.

Oh, and the occasional criticism of Democrats for admitting they don't know if the bill will work.

If they're uncertain, they're in good company. Even top economists can't agree on where the economy is headed, let alone on whether the stimulus bill is too much or too little.

At least Democrats are trying to do something, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce thinks that's important.

"To do nothing is unacceptable. It would send a message to markets around the world that the United States is incapable of acting in the face of a crisis, further destabilizing a fragile global economy."

Thank God Snowe, Specter and Collins kept McConnell from sending out that particular international candygram.

Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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6 Comments »

  • studythefacts said:

    I realize we need a plan for our economy status-but how can anyone be supportive of a Stimulus Plan which hasn’t even been read by those voting on it? So much spending of our money which has nothing to do with growth… Time will tell… all the “Ideas of Grandeur”
    which Obama laid on the American voters will become necrotic.

  • Debra said:

    “No time to read the bill” is the oldest political strawman in history. It wouldn’t surprise me if someone had sited it when The Constitution was drafted.

    The bill was available Wednesday night. Did people make a legitimate attempt to read it or trundle off to bed, knowing they could rely on a tired old excuse as a political rationalization for voting against the bill on Friday? The latter is pretty much political standard operating procedure. I’m be surprised if many people using that excuse read bills as a normal course of events.

    Bill too hefty to read that quickly? Fair enough. Divide it among Republican representatives, senators and staffers, then everyone reports on the section they’ve read. But that’s probably too much effort when you know you can make rhetorical use of not having read it.

  • Michael said:

    I took the time to read this bill and this is bad legislation because it is similar to the legislation that hoover signed in 29 to save us from a depression we see how that worked out. The government will pay those who put them in office and this is what this bill was about.

  • Terry said:

    If you took the time to read and possibly comprehend the ramifications of this spending, you would be appalled. This is merely another Democrat spending binge. The three Republican Senators who voted yes will most likely be unemployed in the next election cycle and rightly so. When you quote (most) you don’t take into account the 200+ economists who came forward in writing to condemn this spending and warn of it’s ramifications for the future.

  • Debra said:

    Now, now. Let’s not question my comprehension skills simply because we disagree. That’s really not sporting. It’s also the reason we can’t move off the rhetorical dime in this country. Instead of trying to understand each other’s positions, we’d rather spew at someone.

    For the record, I did not quote “most” economists. There are way too many economists in the world or even the country for me to pretend to know what “most” think. What I did say was that “top economists” can’t agree. The phrase links to a Wall Street Journal article – hardly a hotbed of liberal thinking.

    And that statement does indeed take into account those who came forward to condemn the spending: “Even top economists can’t agree on where the economy is headed, let alone on whether the stimulus bill is too much or too little.”

  • Debra said:

    If you’re looking for comparisons for Hoover, Michael, eight years of Bush II policies are much more appropriate than three weeks of Barack Obama. Hoover for years refused to act as the country’s economy worsened, sticking to his unbending faith in the markets to work it out and fearing any aid to workers would destroy the “American character.”

    If you’re referring to Smoot-Hawley, I’m not seeing the comparison. That bill raised import tariffs as much as 50 percent. The Buy American provisions in the stimulus are far more reasonable, allowing exceptions if buying American would increase costs 25 percent or more and honoring existing trade agreements. Officials also can grant exemptions for a number of reasons. Again, I don’t see how this is analagous.