Originally published on January 30, 2009
Republicans are not sparing the rod when it comes to beating up on President Obama’s economic stimulus package, but it’s clear they are unable to raise their membership to withstand the newly found vigor of his congressional muscle.
President Obama’s massive $819 billion spending-and-tax-cut package was rammed through the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday without the support of a single Republican member. Even with 11 Democratic representatives opposing the bill, the 244-to-188 count reflected the bulging Democratic majority that has now swollen the House.
Ever since the Republican fantasy of endless majorities began collapsing beneath a disgusting load of GOP lies and incompetence in 2006, Republicans have quickly come to realize they can probably look forward to many legislative defeats like Wednesday’s ahead.
For six long years, America gave the Republicans all the rope they wanted – and sure enough – now they have hung themselves.
While the lopsided tally of Wednesday’s House vote surely must have been hard on GOP members, President Obama was not about to stick it to Republicans, as he graciously invited Congressional leaders of both parties to the White House that evening for cocktails.
“He said he wanted action, bold and swift,” pointed out Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, according to the New York Times, as debate began Wednesday morning on Obama’s gigantic package, “and that is exactly what we we’re doing today.”
As debate over the dimensions of Obama’s package snaked through the House, the blame game over who bore responsibility for America’s current economic pickle grew predictably partisan.
According to the Times account, Rep. Virginia Foxx, Republican of North Carolina, raised the familiar argument that GOP tax cuts in 2001 had stimulated years of job growth. The firmness of the U.S. economy had only flagged, Rep. Foxx complained, once Democrats fastened their grip on Congress in 2006.
These comments obviously pricked the ears of Democratic Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, who noodled his GOP opponents by pointing out it was their member’s dysfunction that savaged America with “the economics that got us into this mess.”
Although conservative commentators like Fox News’s Glenn Beck have hammered the president’s stimulus package as somehow “socialistic,” arguing in his January 26th column that America should “call a spade a spade,” most observers view the Obama plan as much more likely to stimulate America’s flaccid free-market system than Bush and Paulson’s bailouts for the big banks – which shafted the country’s real working stiffs.
The meat of the Obama package consists of billions for the states, and programs to help families overcome the hardships brought on by six years of Republicans jimmying with government regulation and jacking up corporate welfare.
In the end, witnessing the Obama stimulus package being massaged by Congress is much like watching any government sausage being made; it’s not for the faint of heart. But this package is probably the best tool available to stimulate America’s soft economy – and in that, we can all take some satisfaction.
The Obama package may not be the best piece of stimulative legislation ever to enter the Oval Office, but it represents the best job harried congressional members are likely to come up with. And it certainly beats any package Bush ever raised.