Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Stimulus Package: Stimulating Dissent

The stimulus package (stim-pack for short) was recently passed and signed by the President this week (no thanks to all of the republicans in the house and most of them from the senate). This is the first major bill passing into law under the new administration coming after the first (failed) attempt at bipartisanship on the part of the White House. I will be honest; I only have a general idea of how the stimulus package will be implemented. I do believe that this country's economy needs some kind of government spending to "stimulate" growth in our ailling economy (and attention to our infrastructure is long over due). This however is naught more than a shot in the arm to keep us going long enough for those in charge to devise long-term strategies to get us out of the recession. In that sense, the passage of the bill is good news and I am hopeful that this all will work on some level (hey, things can only get better from here right?). This post however is not about the package itself (we’ll have a chance to see and discuss the outcome of this package in the months to come). My focus is on all of the drama surrounding the passing of the stim-pack.

The republicans were a trip weren’t they? It is as if they did not get the memo about this being a new day and the old game of political posturing won’t cut it in these serious times. The Democrats were not any better. They already seem to be taking it for granted that they have a majority in both houses and that they can get almost any bill passed with little involvement from the other side. The only person that seemed to truly want bipartisanism in the passing of the stim-pack, was the new President. He seemed genuinely interested in ideas from the other side and making certain concessions just to get more elephants on board.

I applaud the President for extending a hand to the other side of the aisle, but like the saying goes, you can lead an elephant to water but you can’t make him drink. In fact it seems that, opposition to the bill was the Republican game plan from the start. Admittedly, the majority party in both houses of congress could have included the minority in the creation of the stimulus bill (that type of partisan exclusion will not help you in the future Speaker Pelosi), but I’m getting the impression that the GOP would not act much differently than the way they are acting now. They seemed too focused on what they felt was wrong with the bill instead of offering ideas (besides FREAKING tax cuts) on how to make the bill better. They knew that this thing would pass with or without them, so now they are hoping that it will fail so that they can say "I told you so!" This strategy does not seem to be working, as current approval ratings for congressional Republicans are pretty low while the congressional Democrat's approval ratings are getting a boost (whether deserved or not).

My advice to the GOP in the house and the senate is; next time the President offers an olive branch and starts talking about bipartisanship, you all should act more like legislators and less like politicians (yes there is a difference). Yes, you can and should stand by your principles, but you should not be too afraid of pissing off your own party to make compromises for the good of the nation (and its economy). Scoring political points (or missing political points if you will) at a time like this is akin to cutting off your nose despite your face (and to no avail).

Also, what the hell is this about?

*Cartoon courtesy of the New York Post


P.S If you want to see for yourself where all of the stim-pack money is going click here.