Paul Krugman, in the NYTimes today, is still spouting doom and gloom about the stimulus. He is unhappy, and with good reason, that parts of the bill that helped poorer Americans have been cut out of the Senate version, like direct aid to states and money for unemployment insurance, food stamps and rebuilding schools. Meanwhile, the aid to first time homebuyers was doubled. This was done to please maybe three Republican Senators, just enough to get the thing passed. Maybe food stamps isn’t a classic stimulus item, but it would get spent.
Krugman points out the Obama tried to lure Republicans with the initial bill by adding in a lot of tax cuts. For his trouble, he got no House Republicans and apparently maybe three Senate Republicans. After the bill goes to Conference there would be two possibilities. The Democrats could achieve a hollow victory by sticking to their principles and restoring some of the cut items, in which case Senate Republicans would defeat the Conference bill. Or the Democrats could cave and say screw you to the poor, just to get three Senate votes.
Krugman likes to say the Republicans were in charge for the last eight years. Barney Frank said six on Meet the Press and I like to say just four. Still, four years with majorities in Congress, a Republican president and a friendly Supreme Court. You would think the Congress would have passed a balanced budget law, or removed all the Clinton laws about lending money for houses to the poor or added a line item veto. I guess Congress thought they had time for that, that they could get around to it. Even now, Republican Congresspersons and conservative commenters say that when Republicans wanted to reform the banking sector and get rid of those bad mortgages, “they” wouldn’t let them. I have, God’s Truth, no idea who “they” were. We all should remember that when the Democrats wanted to filibuster to prevent some four Bush judicial appointees from being confirmed, the Republicans talked about removing the ability to filibuster (now, in the last Congress, Republicans set a record of threats to filibuster resulting in bills being pulled). The sum point of which being that the Republicans had four years to fix things and did nothing, actually, with tax cuts, they probably made things worse.
The title of that current movie “He’s just not that into you” probably sums up my view of the Republicans. The day after the inauguration conservative pundits and Congresspersons were singing the praises of Obama. Now, they have turned on him. Turned out the romance was pretty short lived, and they are not that into Obama.