Monday, February 09, 2009

They're just not that into you ...

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.


Lady Elaine said...

My understanding is in the original bill, there was $70 b for food stamps, healthcare and education and now it has been cut to $30 b.

If cutting it to $30 b means D's get three Republican senator votes to stop a filibuster from happening, then so be it.

It's $30 b of food on people's table, teacher's teaching in schools, and prescription drug assistance for the elderly.

This opens the door for more money and more negotiations at a later point.

And BTW, can't wait to see that movie!!!!

EdHeath said...

Well, here’s hoping that the $40b won’t be missed, that the expansion in need for food stamps and such is not so great as to overwhelm it. I am consoled in my ignorance of how far the stimulus needs to go only by the fact that I am pretty sure Senators and Representatives of both parties also have no idea of how much we need and how far the reduced stimulus will go. If, or perhaps I should say when, the stimulus proves to be too little, look for the Republicans to claim that it was never needed at all, and that all the Democrats have done is ruin the economy and put us further in debt. At least one conservative commenter spun the Obama’s brief trip outside the White House to their daughter’s school as prelude to a two week vacation, and then dare liberals to mention George Bush.

Actually, in terms of irony, the best was when a Republican Congressman, on “Meet the Press”, suggested the Stimulus bill was loaded with Bridges to Nowhere. Where have we heard that phrase before?