Saturday, February 14, 2009

US Congress passes stimulus plan.

I am always quite frankly amazed when the people who presided over eight years which saw a massive surplus turn into a massive deficit suddenly decide to pretend that they are the people most concerned with fiscal responsibility. The people who waged wars whilst giving themselves tax cuts, whose policies it could be argued led to the very financial mess which we all now find ourselves in, suddenly feel that now is the time for them to present themselves to the public as the responsible financial alternative to Democratic recklessness.

And yet, as the US Senate finally passes Obama's $787 billion stimulus package, that is exactly what they are doing:

Republican Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell said: "This isn't Monopoly money. It's real. It adds up, and it has to be paid back, by our children and by their children."
McConnell had no difficulty passing the cost of both the Iraq war and the Afghanistan war on to his children and his grandchildren, but he balks at the thought of passing the stimulus plan on to them.

As do, it appears, almost all Republicans. Every Republican in the House rejected Obama's plan and a mere three voted for it in the Senate.

The Democratic leader of the Senate, Harry Reid, praised the three Republicans who had voted for the bill and said it was the most important piece of legislation he had worked on.

"The country is in trouble and we're so fortunate we were able to get it passed," he said.

"It's going to give this country a shot in the arm."

Earlier, Mr Obama had said that in the longer term the government needed to rein in spending, and that "we are going to have to once again live within our means".

Obama may sensibly talk of "living within our means" in the future, but it is the Republican party - who ran up massive deficits - who are now attempting to portray themselves as the party of fiscal responsibility.

After the last eight years I frankly find that hard to stomach.

Whatever happens over the next 16 months, President Bush will leave office having presided over one of the fastest accumulations of government debt in the history of the United States.

During his time in office, federal debt held by the public – Washington's equivalent of a credit-card balance – will have increased by more than 50 percent, to about $5.5 trillion. Uncle Sam will be paying interest on that sum for years to come.

I understand that there are some people who disagree with the size of the stimulus package, and that their concerns are perfectly valid.

However, I find it unbelievable that the Republicans can object to the stimulus on the grounds of fiscal responsibility.

From the start of Bush's term through the end of this fiscal year, US spending rose 7 percent per year, notes Brian Riedl, a Heritage Foundation budget expert.

That's double the spending growth rate of the Clinton years.

The Republicans lost all of their rights to claim to be good stewards of the economy and presided with what appeared to be fiscal recklessness. Which is what makes their present protestations ring so hollow.

UPDATE:

Andrew Sullivan
:

Mark Murray:

With zero House Republicans voting for the stimulus -- and with just three Senate Republicans expected to vote for it later this afternoon -- it's worth noting that 28 House Democrats and 12 Senate Democrats voted for the final passage of Bush's big tax cut in 2001. (And remember, too, that Bush had barely won the presidential election the year before.) The size of that 2001 tax-cut package? $1.35 trillion.

Bipartisanship means nothing if it is only ever respected by one party. The GOP is borderline autistic in its understanding of the necessary to-and-fro of democratic government. Or rather: its ideological nature prevents it from engaging in the actual tasks of pragmatic government. Or from seriously thinking of the long-term national interest rather than the short-term partisan one.

So the people who championed a $1.35 trillion tax cut now lecture us on the need for fiscal responsibility? Unbelievable.

Click title for full article.

3 comments:

The Intellectual Redneck said...

Will the stimulus bill compromise lower your tax rebate to $8 per week? That appears to be true. The final version has not been passed, but reports indicate the $500 per year in reduced tax withholding has been reduced to $400 per individual and $800 per couple. That only comes to $8 per week for an individual and $16 for a couple. If they start the payments in June and make it retroactive to the beginning of the year, you will get $13 per week until next January. Then, your rebate would drop to the $8 per week level. Are you felling stimulated yet? In a stimulus bill of almost $1 trillion dollars, you would think President Obama would have more for the working class.

Steel Phoenix said...

All of this about created what problems and who didn't vote for who is really tiresome to someone who isn't of either party. I'd really like to throw the lot of them out and replace them with people without affiliation. Unity removes sensibility at the same rate it grants power. It is no gain at all.

Kel said...

Redneck,

How astonishing, a Republican who is against tax cuts! There must be a Democrat in the White House. And the tax cut is only one part of the stimulus.

SP,

I like Obama's plan to leave ideology behind and to ask what works and decide to do that no matter what side of the aisle it.comes from.