Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Here's something else that's been rattling around for several days, as we hear from Johns Boehner and McCain that the stimulus plan is "unacceptable:" among other things, the election was about Republican policies of the last eight years. Tax cuts and deregulation at home, "f*uck you" as policy abroad. It was also about a desire for bipartisanship. But let's be real: Republicans lost, because their ideas have failed. The burden of bipartisanship, therefore, falls more on them than on Barack Obama. The meeting ground is not in the exact middle. More like 365/538 of the way to the left.
To a greater extent than we've seen in what feels like eons, President Obama (I miss being able to say PEBO, because I liked its sound) has invited the opposition into the discussion, and has altered policy to accommodate them. But enough is enough.
Now, as I've said many times, I'm no economist. I have no idea where the balance point is between tax cuts and government spending (and it's my impression no one else really does, either.) There's some sense in the idea that putting money in people's hands is the more immediate way to inject money into the economy; on the other hand, it's hard to see how the benefit to the individual of several hundred bucks in the pocket outweighs the detriment to the government of the millions-multiplied lost revenue.
In a world that exists only in my imagination, the Democrats would have come up with a greatly more simple and direct plan: this much goes to the states, with controls, to be spent on infrastructure projects; this much goes to extending such benefits as unemployment and health care; this much goes to education; this much to tax relief. Period. Not countless pet projects, not opening the door to pettifoggery.
And in that same world, Barack Obama would now be turning to the people, addressing the nation: make the case for his priorities, and why they are better than the alternatives. Remind them that it's the policies of the past that got us here, point out that, like that definition of insanity (continuing to do the same thing, and expecting a different result), the Republicans are simply demanding more of the same. Invite people to get on the phone, on their keyboards, lick their stamps, calling on their Congressfolk to get on board. Put down the marker: we believe this is the best plan, and here's why. It's time to act. Those who support it can share the credit for its success. We've gone as far as we think we can go to make the opponents happy.
If they can't sign on, so be it. They can take the electoral consequences when the economy turns around and they're on record as having said "NO." And if it doesn't, well, they can say "I told you so" as we sink below the tides.
That's the way it works.