NO STIMULATION IN STIMULUS PACKAGE
Sunday's Argus features an opinion article by Washington Post writer Eugene Robinson that chastises House Republicans for voting along party lines regarding the $819 Billion Stimulus Package. His feeling is that at least one Republicans should have jumped on board and voted in favor of this bloated piece of pork.
I would ask a different question. When we look at the projects that have been packaged into this so-called stimulus package, who is getting stimulated? Certainly not our economy. Definitely not our out-of-work citizens. This stimulus package is not geared to jump-start our economy or provide immediate opportunities for employment, even if it is for infrastructure projects.
Look at the list of projects included in the $819 Billion package: $650 Million for digital TV converter boxes, $345 Million for Ag Department computers, $15 Billion in college funding scholarships, $88 Million to move Public Health Service into a new buildings, $870 Million to battle the flu, $400 Million to slow the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases and many more.
Maybe the relevant question should be why no Democrats including our conservative blue dog Dem, Rep. Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin, voted against this misguided package? This would have been an excellent time for her to flex her young political muscle and gain respect among both parties. I realize that a percentage of crud is going to be packaged into any legislation coming out of Washington, but this stimulus package has no goal or direction. Some of it's old, some of it's new projects. Both parties can share blame for where we are at today and both parties need to be included in the solution. Blaming one party for not voting in favor is just as foolish as blaming the other party for not voting against it.
Here's where our new leader, President Obama, needs to step up, make his line-item veto suggestions and let Chief of Staff Raum Emmanuel start chewing until the President gets his package, his way. If we're going to take a shot at this economy, let's make sure it is a direct shot, not a ricochet that misses its target. Job creation, cash flow to taxpayers and infrastructure projects that begin in weeks, not years, are what will push us forward. The party politics of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid should go out with back door with Dick Cheney's colleagues. Let the new, younger leaders step up to the plate and lead.
—Rod Goeman, 2009.02.01
See? I wasn't the only one doing something other than staring at ads interrupted by instant replay yesterday. Of course, I also wasn't thinking college scholarships and public health are wastes of money.
To stir the pot, here is a relevant clip from the Robinson column to which Goeman refers:
What I've been hearing from Republicans in both the House and Senate has been a kind of attenuated, distorted echo of the economic doctrine that the party has preached, if not always practiced, since the Reagan years. It's perfectly appropriate, of course, to ask whether a specific spending proposal would have the desired stimulative effect; indeed, some items were removed from the stimulus bill for that reason. But underlying the Republican criticism has been a familiar formula: more tax cuts, fewer spending initiatives.
But Americans know that this philosophy has already taken us as far as it could. Americans know that taxes can only be cut by so much before the federal government's effectiveness inevitably suffers. Americans know that that spending money doesn't necessarily mean wasting it. Americans know that the economic crisis means taking the position that government is inherently oppressive, if not fundamentally evil, is now intellectually bankrupt, because government is the only instrument we have in the high-stakes attempt to induce financial and economic recovery [Eugene Robinson, "Obama's Mandate Could End the GOP," via RealClearPolitics, 2009.01.30].
No stimulation in the stimulus package? At least it's stimulating conversation. Economic stimulus: boon or boondoggle? Your comments are welcome!