Saturday, January 31, 2009

A New Kind of Hope?

(cartoon via Cox and Forkum)

This is the change we were promised?
I LOVE this. The new kind of politics of hope. Eight hours of debate in the House of Representatives to pass a bill spending $820 billion - or roughly $102 billion per hour of debate.

Only 10 percent of the "stimulus" to be spent on 2009.

Close to half goes to entities that sponsor or employ (or both) members of the Service Employees International Union, federal, state, and municipal employee unions or other Democrat-controlled unions.

This bill is sent to Congress after President Obama has been in office for seven days. It is 680 pages long. According to my calculations, not one member of Congress read the entire bill before this vote. Obviously, it would have been impossible, given his schedule, for the president to have read the whole thing.

For the amount spent, we could have given every unemployed person in the United States roughly $75,000.

We could give every person who had lost a job and is now passing through long-term unemployment of six months or longer roughly $300,000.

There has been pork-barrel politics since there has been politics, but the scale of this pork is beyond what had ever been imagined before - and no one can be sure it will actually do much stimulation...

This has been a punch in the solar plexus to the kind of responsible, far-seeing, mature government processes that are needed to protect America. This is more than pork-barrel - this is a coup for the constituencies of the party in power and against the idea of a responsible government itself. A bleak day.

Unfortunately, it is only the latest in a long series of such days stretching across decades of rule by both parties, to the point where truly responsible government is only a distant echo of our forgotten ancestors.

Why is it that the same people who think we can't afford the Iraq War when the economy was strong thinks we can afford the stimulus when the economy is weak? Why do the same people who constantly complained about the government using fear of terror to consolidate power and increase spending turn a blind eye when their party does the same thing using economic fears? I find it worse than dangerous when people start putting party over principle -- something both sides of the aisle are guilty of.

So much for change.


thinking said...

First off, I wonder if the commentator, Ben Stein, who wrote this has read the bill as passed by the House?

If no one else has read this bill, then why am I to believe Ben Stein has, or believe his opinion on it?

Second, no bill has passed yet, as the Senate has to take action on their own version, and then it is sent to conference, and then finally to the President. So the final package will be different in some respects.

Third, perhaps the commentator would like to name one pork project in this bill that he objects to...he does not.

Fourth, in any spending package you can find some projects that can be ridiculed...and some unfairly, such as the Republicans demagogued the funding for prevention of STDs and HIV. Well, it turns out that "the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) and the HIV Medicine Association of IDSA (HIVMA) believe this funding is a critical reinvestment in our public health infrastructure. Investing in prevention now saves taxpayers money later. Singling out STD prevention funding for criticism is an ideological attack that is not rooted in public health reality."

What is it about conservative Republicans, anyway, that they are always so fixated on sex? The party of Vitter, Craig, and Foley had better watch out if they keep bringing this stuff up.

Sure, this bill is far from perfect, but it will get better. And as Pres Obama has said, no one bill can cure everything, and it will take years to get us out of this mess.

But critics have a responsibility to suggest alternatives...something Ben Stein does not. Perhaps Ben Stein should also have us forget his cheerleading for the very policies that got us into this mess.

Finally, he yearns for a time "where truly responsible government is only a distant echo of our forgotten ancestors."

When was this the case? This is pure nostalgic mythology. Even in our great country, this vibrant democracy has always been far from perfect. There is nothing new under the sun. Perhaps Stein should read the history books and find out what it was really like...the same political posturing, and even far worse mistakes.

Does Ben Stein know about when this country allowed slavery? How about when differences of opinion were sometimes settled by a duel, and someone like Aaron Burr killed one of our founders, Alexander Hamilton?

I could go on and on, but please, Ben Stein, spare me the false romanticization of the past.

The bottom line is this: we can do nothing, or do something. For all those who criticize, please roll up your sleeves and suggest alternatives.

As for the tone in DC, the Democrats are being far more responsible than the Republicans ever were re the War on Terror fear.

Pres Obama has done everything he can to engage the Republicans, something Bush never did w/ the Democrats. And while with the Republicans it was always you are with us or against us, the Democrats have avoided that impulse w/ the Republicans, at least so far.

The bottom line is that for now, Republicans have zero ideas and zero leaders.

thinking said...

A sidenote on the Cox and Forkum cartoon. The funny thing about it is its inaccuracy in portraying the current economic situation.

In reality, it should show the figure representing the "economy" falling down and very ill, and begging to the govt for assistance.

Keep in mind it was the captains of capitalism who have been begging govt for its help in all of this. The govt is not forcing any company to take their money.

So it's hardly like the economy is this strong Jack Bunyan type figure, who would be doing just fine without govt help.

As for change and hope, one thing I find refreshingly different is that we actually have people in charge who think and use their brain. That's a departure from what we had the last 8 years.

It's also nice that the people running govt actually believe it can serve some good. That too is a nice change from the past.