Ben Buchwalter

Between Right and Wrong = Still Wrong
February 9, 2009, 11:10 am
Filed under: 2010 and 2012, Economy, Republicans | Tags: , ,

This weekend, debate raged over the “moderates” stimulus bill that will likely be approved by the Senate tomorrow. Senators Nelson, Collins, and Specter have put together a bill that shaved approximately $100 Billion from the House’s version. In an article in the Washington Post today, Specter defended the bill because as unemployment continues to rise with no end in sight, “The country cannot afford not to take action.

He’s right about that. But as Paul Krugman countered in an op-ed this weekend, action is indeed necessary. But Specter’s compromise bill has stripped some of the most essential parts to aid the country’s rising unemployed population.

One of the best features of the original plan was aid to cash-strapped state governments, which would have provided a quick boost to the economy while preserving essential services. But the centrists insisted on a $40 billion cut in that spending.

The original plan also included badly needed spending on school construction; $16 billion of that spending was cut. It included aid to the unemployed, especially help in maintaining health care — cut. Food stamps — cut. All in all, more than $80 billion was cut from the plan, with the great bulk of those cuts falling on precisely the measures that would do the most to reduce the depth and pain of this slump.

We must realize that bipartisanship isn’t always the best solution simply by virtue of involving more people. For some questions there are correct answers and wrong answers. Compromise is not automatically correct because its in the middle of right and wrong. Yglesias agrees that not all questions need bipartisan answers. But some issues are inherently well suited for bipartisan support. President Bush’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief is a perfect example of a bipartisan bill.

But the stimulus bill is not. Democrats and Republicans have drastically different views concerning how to revive the country from recession. One of these solutions will work, the other will not. But it is not logical that a middle road, determined randomly by three or four moderate Senators, is correct simply because it gets three red votes.

So are Senators who will vote against the bill against government spending, or against Democratically supported government spending? On Meet the Press yesterday, Congressman Barney Frank (D MA) argued the latter. The GOP calls democrats “tax and spend” thieves now but will sing the praises of government spending when military budgets are reconsidered later this year. Thats not bipartisanship. And its not even clinging to traditional Republican values.

So when you’re not being bipartisan, and you’re not clinging to any sort of values, what are you? I’d say shamelessly partisan. That, or “irresponsible hypocrites.”

The fact is, there are serious political risks for both sides. If the stimulus fails, it will be the Democrats fault, and Republicans will catapult to national relevance in time for the 2010 midterms and 2012 presidential election. But if it succeeds, Republicans have ulilaterally voted against reviving the economy and providing jobs. And there goes the neighborhood.

Cool graphic from Gallop showing that there really is support for the stimulus (h/t Tom Awtry)


2 Comments so far
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Recently President Obama made a comment to members of his staff, after he had only been in office for only ten days; he said he was betting his whole political future and Presidency on his proposed Economic Stimulus Package, now before the senate. A very true statement, but considering the consequential failure that could result if Americans went a trillion dollars in the hole without any results to show for it; President Obama’s presidency would mean very little to us.

Comment by Tom Awtry

I like this piece a lot. Politics may be the art of the possible, but too generous a biprtisan spirit right now may do more harm than good. The Republicans have been offered a reasonable opportunity to participate, but sadly, the terms of the debate seem already to begin to turn towards posturing about who can blame who for the next election cycle. It seems utterly evident that the economy desperately needs money in circulation asap. Paulson’s spasms through the fall failed entirely to do this because he put no conditions on how the hundreds of billions would be used and surprise, surprise, they were used only for the narrow interests of the banks which received the money and it did not circulate. Public works money will circulate creating much needed multiplier effects.

Comment by Nick Browning

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