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.



Anonymous said...

Take a Aricept allready, Y'all won.... I'm bendin over, let it rip.
Umm you do know Camp X-ray won't be closin anytime soon, not even the promised year from now... this time next year it'll be too close to the midterm congressional elections to do somethin that unpopular...and thats if there's not another 9-11 in the meantime...


Anonymous said...

Gitmo shutdown is only really unpopular among the bedwetting set, and the bedwetting set -- as we learned last election -- is at present a minority faction the US electorate. (snark)Perhaps you could pray for another terrorist attack to get those numbers back up.

Anonymous said...

If it was so popular, he'd be doin it now, just like the Economic Plan and the SSM Executive Order (SNARK), and you don't have to pray for terrorist attacks, they just sorta happen,


Beloved Parrot said...

On the news tonight -- for every dollar spent on government incentives a one- and a-half dollar of revenue is generated.

For every dollar given to the tax payers 75 cents is generated.

Sid Schwab said...

BP: I heard that, too. It bothers me a lot that the Dems are caving to the extent that they are. I like the idea of bipartisanship, and on such things as healthcare it'll be really necessary; but some things are just sort of binary. It's time for the Dems -- and Obama -- to lay it down and call it what it is.

Timmyson said...

Without trying to sound snarky, isn't this what you voted for? "[Our opponents] lost, because their ideas have failed." is precisely the sentiment of the Republicans when they controlled house, senate, and then executive (I think I've got my order right). "We're the kings of the castle" is politics as usual. "We're one country" and changing politics as usual seemed to be one of the central themes of his campaign. I agree (with your oft-expressed sentiment, though not in this particular post) that Obama seems to be a very thoughtful, intelligent, and open-minded man. However we seem to be seeing (a laughable use of the generic "we" from a Canadian) that he is consultative to a fault.

It's possible that the President is figuring to preserve his political capital by bowing and scraping through this, however I suspect this is going to be the general rule: they want more than just to defeat their opponents in the election, they want to convert their opponents (makes sense when they say that about terrorists), and rule with practical unanimity. Which sucks because I think the Democrats are right on almost all issues, however it might help the Republicans to reinvent their party away from the evangelicals, hawks, and hardline government-slashers to a more moderate right-of-centre position.

A more remote possiblity (to my thinking) is that he's trying to let the Republicans down easy so that he can play them off against the more wildly left elements of the Democrats.

My apologies, I seem unable to write a short comment on your blog.

Sid Schwab said...

Timmyson: thanks for a thoughtful comment. I remain puzzled. I admire Obama's attempts at bipartisanship and willingness to listen, even to have altered his plan. Which is more than the Republicans ever did when they had the White House and Congress (at which time the Dems complained their input was never sought, showing, once again, how politicians do the very things about which they complain...) Anyhow it's interesting to me that even after the listening and the altering of the bill, the R's voted no to a man/woman. So the only compromise was, as usual, from the left.

What puzzles me most is how the R's seem not to worry about being seen as nay-sayers at this time, and when it seems likely that the economy will eventually improve, and they'll get no credit. I guess it's because, in the House, anyway, the districts are so gerrymandered that a remaining Republican wouldn't lose an election to a Democrat even if he or she married Osama bin Laden.

I voted for a new way of doing things, which Obama has shown. Unfortunately, it seems he's the only one.

Sili said...

So are you saying, Frank, that Obama should rush in an set Gitmo prisoners free left, right and centre without any oversight or due process?

Hmmmm - that sounds like familiar behaviour. Now who can have done such a ridiculous thing to endanger the US? It's right on the tip of my tongue, but for some reason I keep getting stuck on the number 61. Straaaaange.

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