Thursday, January 29, 2009

Recovery Bill Passes Without Obstructionists

Well, we all now know what the new, little game is for the leaderless Greasy Obstructionist Party. And it's pretty much the same, old game that they've played because... well, they can't think of anything new.

President Obama's Economic Recovery Bill (H.R.1) wasn't good enough for the Republicans. They cited it didn't spend enough soon enough to jump start the economy according to their non-existent CBO report, although the actual CBO report showed something different. What was the answer? Tax cuts. So Obama obliged in the interest of bipartisanship.

Then there was this nasty little business of $200 million in family planning. How in the hell was that going to stimulate the economy? Contraceptives? Phooey! So, ignoring the fact that preventing sexually transmitted diseases saves the economy tens of billions of dollars yearly, President Obama asked the Democrats to remove the family planning provision and save it for a later date, and they obliged in the the interest of bipartisanship.

What about grass? Yes, at this point I'd like to get high too, but I'm talking about resodding the National Mall at a cost of $21 million. Could create some jobs, right? Perhaps the Parks Department could hire a lot of extra help, or maybe they could contract it out and employ who knows how many people (1,000? 3,000? 5,000?) to give a much needed facelift to our capital; to the place where 16 million tourists come from all over the world to enjoy our monuments and museums; to the space we use to honor our national heroes. But the myopic GOP thinks that it's wasteful spending. So Obama obliged in the interest of bipartisanship.

President Obama met with leaders of the Republican Party three times in the last week in an effort to get votes from the other side of the aisle - three times. The same number of times that George W. Bush met with Democratic leaders over his entire eight years. All this was in an effort of post partisanship. So how did the Republicans in the House thank President Obama for including them in the process? Not one Republican voted for H.R. 1. Not. One. Vote.

Ultimately, the thanks the GOP gave to the President was to water down the bill with more tax cuts and less stimulus spending - now if the whole thing shits the bed, Republicans can say they were against it all along, when in fact they contributed to weakening it while making believe they were honoring the spirit of bipartisanship. And then they went to the White House and drank Obama's liquor anyway.

At this point, the partisan in me wants the President to shut down the bill and start again with the bill he wanted, including the family planning money, including the National Mall money, including everything he compromised away and to reduce the tax cuts that the Republicans insisted he add. If he's not going to get any Republican votes, then fuck 'em, right? Why should they get any say if they're going to reject it out of hand anyway? And has anyone heard any idea on the Republican side of the aisle, just one idea, that would help the stimulus package besides tax cuts? Anyone?

According to Moody's (featured on Rachel Maddow's show last night) for every government dollar spent on Food Stamps, it generates $1.73 in stimulative spending. Infrastructure? $1 in spending crates $1.59 in stimulus. As opposed to tax cuts, $1 will get you a $1.03 return and the lovely corporate tax cut? $1 in corporate tax cuts will get you $0.30 on the dollar - negative territory. But tax cuts is all the GOP will say when you pull the string on their back. Mortgage crisis? Tax cuts. Unemployment up? Tax cuts. Economy going in the shitter after eight years of tax cuts? ... Tax cuts.

Rachel Maddow and Don Manzullo

Here's the Maddow clip from last night in which she interviews Representative Don Manzullo (R-IL) who voted against the bill. See if you can make any sense out of what he's saying when it came to the auto industry and car vouchers.

I want to get this right. Here is Manzullo's quote:
"How do you 'prime the pump' to restart, for example, manufacturing? I've got a Chrysler facility in my district. The big problem is lack of orders. So here's what you do, it's something very, very simple. You take a $5,000 voucher, you go to your Chrysler dealer or dealer of your choice, you buy the car. You knock 25% off that car and you can buy a nice Jeep Patriot for less than $300 a month. We have to restart the channels of the supply line and manufacturing..."

Huh? So, you're going to send a family of four who makes $30,000 a year, or better yet, someone who's just lost their job a $5,000 voucher to go out and buy a car and their incentive is that they only pay less than $300 a month on a car they can't afford in the first place?

"... You don't make jobs when jobs already exist save for the lack of orders. There are enough people in this country today that would like to buy a new car. We went from 17 million new cars down to 10 million new cars. If we could get up to 15 million new cars, that's $75 billion in vouchers, that would (triggle? trickle?) over a trillion dollars, and that way people go back to work. There is nothing in this bill that puts people back to work."

Congressman Manzullo seems like a nice guy, but is it me or does he have no idea what the fuck he is talking about? He wants people to drive their new Jeep Patriot to a job that doesn't exist? Did I get that right?! He's looking at this completely backwards because he's worried about the manufacturing jobs in his district due to lack of demand for the product. The reason there is lack of demand is the lack of jobs generating the money for those people to then buy the cars and increase the demand, thereby putting those manufacturing jobs back on the clock.

He thinks there's enough people out there who can still buy a car with a little push. He forgets that unemployment is currently at 7.5% and 8.2% in his home state, and it'll probably get worse before it gets better. He's forgotten that 2.6 million people lost their jobs just in 2008 alone. But there should still be enough people out there who still want to buy a car, right? And a gas guzzler at that. As long as those jobs come back to his district, it's all good.

Using his analogy of "priming the pump," Manzullo wants to pour stimulus into the carburetor to get the engine running instead of pouring it into the gas tank to keep the engine running for a much longer period of time. And this is what Maddow argues in my favorite part of the exchange as she's getting under the good Congressman's skin in the nicest way possible.
Maddow: "The idea that family planning programs, putting down grass on the National Mall, all of these things that you guys have demonized, are in fact things that would put people back to work. That's the problem here."

Manzullo: "Wait a second, I am not demonizing putting grass back to work. (Maddow smiles) Items should be budgeted and then you should have items that are stimulus that go... in, in, in... the spending for stimulus is off budget, it goes directly to the deficit. Based upon your definition, I don't mean to argue with you but I'm having fun with you, every, every item of spending can be stimulus, that means you don't worry about paying for it, that means you don't worry about budget, that means then $11 trillion in debt. This stimulus package will add $365 billion in interest over the next 10 years bringing it up to $1.16 trillion."
Asked whether he would ever vote for a stimulus bill, Manzullo responds, "You bet, if it was modest..." to which Rachel replies, "We don't have a modest problem, sir."

Big problems demand big solutions. Hopefully this stimulus package will be "fixed" and large enough despite the Republican tinkering to get us moving in the right direction after initially taking it to the wrong mechanics. Then we can wave goodbye to the Republican Party though the rear view mirror.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I thought professor Irwin Corey was dead!