Beginning to believe it

Frequent commenter John (and thank God I have at least a couple of frequent commenters... it makes me feel slightly less ridiculous for having a blog in the first place) has, in one comment thread or another, posed a question about GOP opposition to the stimulus package. If they genuinely disagree with the stimulus, and the spending therein in particular, don't they have an obligation to vote against it? To which I reply, yes and no.

I can understand that Republicans have a suspicion of government spending, and favor tax cuts. I understand that they may be wary of massive spending, and cast a gimlet eye on funding for things that don't seem like "stimulus" per se, such as education or health care. While I disagree with this philosophy, I can understand it.

However, there is standing on principle, and there is rank obstructionism. It strains credulity to believe that zero House Republicans voted for the stimulus due to substantive concerns. It is ridiculous beyond measure to see the recent Senate vote for the DeMint amendment, which was favored by 36 of the 41 GOP Senators, and believe it was anything other than pure, unadulterated partisan hackery. Via Obsidian Wings:

The DeMint proposed amendment – which got 36 Republican votes (90% of caucus) – is a perfect illustration. (See also Brian Beutler – his regular site is here and should be on your readers and reading lists).

You might think the DeMint bill is a parody at first – the proposal of someone consciously trying to get chased out of office (think The Producers applied to politics). Indeed, in a more rational world, the DeMint proposal would be the story of the day – and an object of national ridicule.

Here are a few highlights of the very serious Jim DeMint’s proposal (borrowed from Heritage), which consists of zero spending and 100% tax cuts: (1) lower everyone’s marginal rates by 10 points; (2) lower the corporate tax rate; (3) eliminate most of the estate tax and slash the remnants; (4) make the Bush tax cuts permanent.

In other words, the vast majority of the Republican Senators voted for a measure that is composed exclusively of tax cuts. No spending at all. No money for cash-strapped states. None for infrastructure spending. Nada.

In a situation like this, there is a need to compromise, and to recognize that your party lost. It is lamentable that the GOP would put its support behind a measure that furthers only their goals, and would be so flagrant about it. I agree with Megan that they really aren't interested in compromise, and their goals are purely political.

On that note (and to explain the title of this post), I would like to give credit, once again, where it is due. I have, in the past, questioned the willingness of Senators Snowe and Collins to put partisan considerations aside when the chips were down, and to live up to their reputations as moderates. They were two of the mere four (four!) "no" votes on the DeMint amendment, and theirs were votes for sanity. While I'm not 100% delighted by the cuts being made to the stimulus package by Collins and friends right now, I am willing to believe that they are in the interest of getting the thing passed. I applaud both of them, and am genuinely pleased to revise my opinions of them.

1 comment:

  1. I'll thank the Random Forces of Nature you aren't telling me to take a long walk off a short dock for being such a disagreeable curmudgeon. I've been hanging about a bit in hopes of functioning as the irritant that brings forth the Pearl of Great Price from the Oyster that is Bleakonomy. Or something.

    Anyway, I'm under no illusion that the Republicans are principled disciples of sane fiscal policy. To the contrary, the Rs share significant blame for the Mess We Are In. But. It is just as difficult to imagine the Ds, especially Ms. Pelosi, as playing anything but the rankest sort of triumphalist power games with examples such as the Condoms Raining From the Sky provisions, ACORN funding, and as the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel put it:

    Milwaukee Public Schools would reap $88.6 million over two years for new construction under the economic stimulus package just passed by the U.S. House of Representatives - even though the district has 15 vacant school buildings, a large surplus of property and no plans for new construction.

    So it isn't as if this Obama-Pelosi-Reid Porkapaloosa Debt Bill is a battle between the forces of Good and the forces of Evil. Rather, it is an object lesson about our federal government's descent into petty squabbling over whose friends are rewarded and whose friends are punished against a backdrop of most people getting hurt. And we all, Ds, Rs, Is, and especially children, will pay for this folly for decades IMHO.

    I wish I had a solution, but I don't believe is saddling our children with masses of debt just for the sake of Doing Something Right Now. Compromise needs to go both ways, and so far, AIUI, it hasn't. We need spending on a large scale. We need tax relief as well (it can get spending going faster than anything else Washington can do). But most of all, we need everyone in Congress to actually act like this is a serious problem and not an excuse to make their friends filthy rich and powerful.