So I watched “Face the Nation” this morning, which had Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer on. I don’t particularly like either man, which is neither here nor there (and of no consequence to either). McConnell was complaining about the stimulus bill, complaining about it’s size. 150 million for honey bee insurance and 600 million for government employees to buy (American) cars, he said. Well, actually, we do know that bees are in trouble, although I am not sure that bee insurance will help the bees themselves much.
But it is likely the Republicans will assert themselves, as I suggested in my last post. Maybe it will be smooth sailing in the Senate, maybe not; I doubt the Republicans want to be left holding the bag of blocked stimulus, so to speak. I think the Republicans will vote to help pass something, possibly a much smaller bill, and then it will go to conference. That could be where the real fun starts.
Now my memory is that NPR ran stories about how from January 2003 to December 2006, the Republicans increasingly kept Democratic Congressmen out of conference committee negotiations. I don’t know if the negotiations were done in formal meetings or informal get togethers, but I remember the end result was that the Republicans ran roughshod over the Democrats in Congress (something Mitch McConnell today specifically said can’t happen). So the question still is, will Harry Reid grow a pair, or at least a backbone? Will he force Republicans to speak forever? In reading the Wikipedia article on conference committees, it says that when the bill goes back to the Senate, it could still be filibustered. So it is possible to imagine that this process could drag on for a while.
A couple of stimulus issues that Republicans like to complain are support for education at all levels, and alternative energy industry support. I think both are actually pretty important and should be funded through the stimulus. Putting money into the pockets of construction workers to rehab old schools and hopefully improving the education of students is as good as have workers test bridges or repave highways (not better, but just as good). And investing in our future can hardly be a bad thing. Pretty much ditto for money for research and alternative power. Both may yield possible future benefits, in addition to the money (from wages) those employees would spend. I have a feeling the Senate Republicans will try to kill that finding where ever it shows up, which is a general shame. But republicans could admit that investing in the future is a form of stimulus, maybe America a better bet for that future.
Jack Kelly’s column today was interesting. He was saying something I have said myself (although not here, I think), putting more troops in Afghanistan won’t work. I was quoting someone who might have been on the News Hour, and who referenced the Soviet experience in Afghanistan. Interestingly, neither the commenter I remember nor Mr. Kelly had an alternative suggestion. Kelly, at least, I think just wants to keep criticizing everything Obama does.