Bi-Partisanship: It Was a Nice Idea, But…

February 14, 2009 at 5:41 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , )

It was a pleasant dream, but still just a dream. That members of the House and Senate would work together, setting aside their ideologies and petty projects so they could do what was right for the country instead of voting along party lines or pandering to local constituencies and friendly lobbyists. When Judd Gregg withdrew his name from the nomination for Commerce Secretary, it signaled the GOP’s absolute unwillingness to work with anybody who has an opposing point of view. He didn’t withdraw because he suddenly realized that he and President Obama have different economic philosophies. Obama has talked openly about the need for a big stimulus package since long before January 20th. After having pursued the job by querying Obama staffers about a position in the Cabinet, he pulled out because he was being leaned on by the RNC, which smells blood in the water. Its own blood. Gregg turned down a big pay-raise and a prestigious seat in the Presidential Cabinet because he was being treated like a traitor and threatened by his fellow Republicans. The man is a coelenterate. The Party has no conscience.

The Republican Party is in the process of forming a circular firing squad. Unfortunately, the middle class is sitting right in the middle of that cross-fire. Nobel Prize-winning economists were lining up to support the stimulus package, with some even saying it was too small, yet the GOP financial wizards who were responsible for getting us into this debacle were predicting the doom of capitalism and rise of socialism if the bill was signed into law. These are many of the same people who supported Phil Graham’s legislation back in 1999 which all but eliminated any regulation of the banking industry. These were the same “free marketers” who insisted that corporations would always do the right thing. Then ENRON collapsed. These are the intellectual giants who presided over a national debt that went from a billion dollar surplus to trillions of dollars in the red in a matter of six short years. Did a few democrats enable some of that behavior? Of course, but the fiscal policies of the Bush Administration and the anti-regulation ideology of the Republican Party built the foundation of sand upon which our economy was expanding.

Hopefully, Obama has learned a sad, yet important lesson in the last month. He must realize by now that the Republican party is driven exclusively by ideology, rather than by pragmatic reasoning. When he hears United States senators apologizing to a radio talkshow host for criticizing his “I hope Obama fails” remark, Obama must know that he is dealing with people who are bent on obstructing anything that he tries to do, regardless of how much damage it might to do the country. He’s dealing with ideologues who think that tax cuts alone will save the economy from catastrophe, even though a study of the last tax cut showed that it had no measurable impact on the economy. He’s dealing with people who led the charge for last year’s government hand-out, which failed to do anything for the people who received those checks in the mail. He’s dealing with people who are looking for their next campaign slogan, rather than useful solutions to the terrible problems we face.

Obama will always be a civil negotiator. That’s his nature. He appears to be a guy who rarely if ever loses his cool. But he needs to take the gloves off and make it clear to the American people what he is dealing with on Capitol Hill. Between now and 2012, the GOP’s circular firing squad will lock and load, and the Republican Party will, for all intents and purposes, cease to exist as a viable national party. We can only hope that it won’t succeed in taking the middle class with it.

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9 Comments

  1. Man Overboard said,

    I find it odd that you ignore the point that not one single Republican was allowed to participate in the writing of this bill. Democrats completely rejected any and all input from the Republicans throughout the entire process.

    Why do you offer Democrats a free pass on the partisan issue?

  2. johnrj08 said,

    I didn’t ignore it at all. It was the President’s bill. He requested it and he’s a Democrat. He sought out the opinions of Democrats and also had private meetings with the Republican leadership. The Republican leadership chose to obstruct and insist on exactly the opposite of what the President and his economic advisors felt was necessary. If Obama had invited Republicans to help write the bill, it would never have come to a vote. Boehmer demanded that the President reduce the spending programs by half, and double the tax cuts and tax breaks for business. It was the same ideology-driven, trickle-down economics that had gotten us into this mess in the first place, and it totally ignored the plight of millions of Americans who were either out of work or about to lose their livelihoods. It also failed to address the fact that several states are about to go bankrupt and lay-off tens of thousands of teachers, firefighters, and police officers. Because he wanted bi-partisan support of the bill, the President did compromise with Republicans and include some tax cuts. In fact, they are the biggest tax cuts in U.S. history. The problem is, they will only amount to about $13 extra dollars per paycheck for the average American. If the President had given Boehmer exactly what he wanted, they would be getting an extra $26. That’s why tax cuts are NOT a real stimulus to the economy. They just don’t amount to much when you look at them on an individual basis. But I’m sure it will make a great campaign slogan for the GOP in 2012. Tax cuts won’t repair our crumbling infrastructure, improve our children’s education, or reduce our unemployment. All they’ll do is give the GOP something it can brag about to its dwindling constituency. By the way, they’ll also add just as much to the national debt as all the spending in the bill.

    All that said, I think most Democrats are very upset with Nancy Pelosi, who is clearly drunk with power and has gone ‘rogue’. But even if you took Pelosi and Reid out of the equation, it is fairly obvious what the Republican Party’s agenda is going to be for the next four years– Obstruction. This, of course, is going to back-fire on them big time.

  3. Fred X said,

    Bone head alert. This guy is r-o-n-g about EVERTHING.

  4. johnrj08 said,

    If you visit any of the few surviving conservative blogs, this is typical of the kinds of empty-headed, content-free comments you will see. The GOP used the identical tactic in criticizing the stimulus package: “If it passes, it will be a disaster for the country” or “This is stealing from our grandchildren”. These are the kinds of partisan attacks that don’t really reveal anything but the mentality of the attacker. No new ideas. Same old party.

  5. Man Overboard said,

    I love the Democratic philosophy – we’re in a mess caused by bad debt – so we will address it by borrowing a trillion dollars.

    By the way we won’t wait until 2012 – we will clean house in 2010 and curb half of the idiot Dems , including your boy Reid, who wrote this shameful legislation.

    • johnrj08 said,

      Well, at least you’ll concede that we’re in a “mess”. This is something I think John McCain still doesn’t get. To him, I’m sure the “fundamentals of the economy are sound.” I think the primary difference between the so-called “Democratic philosophy” and Republican strategy is that it’s more important for the latter to do what will resonate with its political base, than it is to do what’s right for hard-working Americans who are in dire need of assistance. The biggest tax cuts in U.S. history are only going to amount to about $13 extra per paycheck for the average American, yet Republicans still insist that’s the only kind of stimulus that really works. I don’t think anybody wants the country to go further into debt. But what are our options at this point? We can let millions of families sink into financial ruin, while the more fortunate among us feel some minor discomfort, or we can work together to help those who are suffering most in this crisis. True, it won’t make any of us rich and it will be costly. I suppose that’s what upsets Republicans most.

  6. Michael said,

    all the nobel prize is is a left wing operation. The real debt whether it is republican or democrat will be paid for by the middle class. The rich find ways thru laws to save their money and the poor doesn’t pay any taxes. This type of package didn’t save the hoover administration from leading us down to depression and without jobs from the private sector this will not save us either. It doesn’t matter which party is in office because they both spend more than they take in with no regard to who pays the bill.

  7. johnrj08 said,

    The Nobel Prize is “left wing operation”? I guess you’re right, seeing how the right-wing doesn’t put much stock in the scientific method and many of its constituents believe mankind walked alongside living dinosaurs.

    If the debt is going to be paid, it will be paid by growth of the GNP and a large, tax-paying middle class, which is hunkering down in a foxhole right now. The Hoover administration did NOT offer this kind of package, either. In fact, it fought against it.

    The main problem at this time is the fact that the banking industry is sitting on the money it got from the government and not doing any lending. It’s as if the bankers are waiting until the interest rates go up, which they undoubtedly will in the next three years. But, in the process, they are killing the economy and deepening the recession.

    The Clinton administration balanced the budget, and then the Bush administration quintupled the deficit in four years. The problem now is that the states are dealing with a lot of exorbitant union contracts which are terribly bloated. But, if you go after unions, you go after one of the main drivers of the middle class.

  8. johnrj08 said,

    I’m going to stop posting comments that have no content other than juvenile insults. Not that I take them seriously, but why give an arsonist matches. There are a few conservative bloggers who actually have a rational point of view and the competence with language to express it. But they appear to be a minority. (Oh, the irony). What’s missing from their dialogue is compassion and pragmatism. A pragmatist will have opinions which are conservative and some which are more liberal, depending on the issue. A ideologue rarely bases his or her opinion on deliberative thinking, and their opinions are routinely shaped by their party’s talking points. They just playback what they’ve been told is conservative dogma, without really understanding its implications. The people who are attacking the stimulus package offer no viable alternatives, because they’re just reflexively against anything that sounds remotely liberal. A bill that provides jobs and saves other Americans from financial disaster is just a “spending bill”. That’s it. So, if you want to debate the details and have a point of view with some merit, go for it. Otherwise, go some place else because your comments will not be posted here.

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