Between the ‘stimulus’ package and cabinet nominations, Congress and the president are striking out
In a fairly long but undoubtedly comprehensive piece today at Human Events, editor Jed Babbin asks the question of whether this Congress, and indeed this president, could be the fastest failure ever. Among other things, he cites the lack of any perceived change–as promised by the president several times–in the way Washington works, and he cites the pending failure of the so-called ‘stimulus’ plan to make any inroads in healing our economy.
Only $30 billion of the $825 billion package is dedicated to fixing infrastructure projects such as highways and bridges. There is $40 billion for electric grid development and another $20 billion in tax breaks for business. That’s only about $90 billion out of $825 billion or 12 cents on the dollar that — as the Wall Street Journal pointed out — can plausibly be characterized as an economic stimulus. Even the minor business tax breaks it includes will not do much to stimulate business.
As I’ve written here at America’s Right several times, while I’d rather any sort of stimulus plan be entirely about the reduction of the tax and regulatory burdens on Americans and American business rather than about the insane notion that we can recklessly spend our way out of debt, if we are indeed resigned to spend we should do so on carefully-chosen, shovel-ready infrastructure projects. Such projects would have long-term economic benefits and foster short-term job growth, but because the job growth on such projects would be short-term and the job bubble would burst with the completion of the projects, that’s where the tax cuts and regulatory relief kicks in. Job growth from the latter, unlike immediate construction projects, would be in the long term, as even a friendly business environment would take a little while to populate. In other words, carefully-chosen and shovel-ready projects could create job growth now and positive economic impact later, while lessening the encumbrances on business and industry would have job growth later and economic growth later — so, why not do both?
The answer is simple — because the common sense approach is being advanced by the minority party, and nana-nana boo-boo, we lost the election and should by golly be prepared to face the consequences. Unfortunately for Barack Obama, the consequences of locking out the conservative perpective will affect us all.
President Barack Obama made a fundamental error in underestimating the partisan mentality of his former colleagues in the House and Senate. This so-called “stimulus” bill is the way it is because it was authored by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her socialist flunkies, people who routinely put their own party and their own political careers ahead of the needs and the welfare of the nation. As it stands now, Obama should pull the bill and re-work it himself. His own ideology will likely take a back seat to the need for pragmatism, and a small, bi-partisan group will likely be more capable of paring down the spending and increasing the common sense tax benefits than any sizeable group of Democrats.
As it stands now, however, this Congress will likely see the bill passed, and the adverse effects will be felt by all of us. Sure, if the Republicans can maintain the numbers to filibuster–do you hear that, Sen. Gregg?–they may be able to cause enough of a stink for the Democrats to pull the bill for later consideration, but at this point it looks likely to pass. That being said, when it fails, we must not let the Democrats in Congress and the head Democrat in the White House get a pass; credit must be given for the failure where credit is due.
The failure to act appropriately with regard to the economy is not, however, the only failure we’ve seen from Congress. One issue that Mr. Babbin did not address in his commentary on the failure of the 111th Congress was the confirmations made with regard to Obama’s cabinet and inner circle. During the campaign, we argued that then Sen. Obama surrounded himself with crooks, criminals, con-men, terrorists, and the like. It appears that, with the possible exception of the latter, he is doing the same now.
Congress, on both sides of the aisle, has been complicit in this. For Secretary of State, they confirmed a woman whose husband, a former president, received hundreds of millions of dollars from overseas sources, many of the same individuals and nations and entities with which she will likely be currying favor. For the Treasury Secretary, overseer of the Internal Revenue Service, they confirmed a tax cheat. For the Director of Health and Human Services now, they prepare to confirm a former colleague who not only refused to pay more than $125,000 in taxes, but also received several hundreds of thousands of dollars in speaking fees from many of the same healthcare-related companies and organizations with which he will eventually be dealing in his cabinet position.
On the choices for Treasury Secretary and HHS Director, Timothy Geithner and Tom Daschle, these are people who will craft economic and health plans which in the future will be asking Americans inevitably to shell out more in taxes, yet Daschle and Geithner themselves managed to “forget” to pay their own. Yet, these are men who have either already been chosen, or are en route to being chosen, for a cabinet post. It’s disgusting.
In today’s White House press briefing, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was confronted with several questions about Daschle in particular, whose tax problems were conveniently aired by the mainstream press over the weekend. Asked whether there actually is an amount of past due taxes which would be disqualifying with regard to a cabinet post, Gibbs said that “he would not get into hypotheticals,” and that “putting [Daschle's] mistake up against three decades of public service, the president still thinks that he is best suited” to make the new administration’s healthcare aspirations a reality.
“The president is not insensitive to the reports that are out there,” said Gibbs, “but he believes that Tom Daschle and Timothy Geithner are the right people for their respective jobs, and he does not believe that it will undercut their ability to move forward with ideas which he feels are right for the American people.”
No change has come to Washington. During his campaign, the president called for a renewed “era of responsibility.” After only a matter of weeks, it should be abundantly clear that we’ll see nothing of the sort.
We have the same self-dealing, the same boneheadedness, the same party-first mentality, especially from the Democrats. The only things different are our attitude toward foreign policy, now considered to be “weak” by our enemies, and our desire to introduce elements of social engineering into seemingly everything. Everything else is still rooted in the same desire to keep and maintain power; only it’s now the Democrats who have it to begin with.
For the future of America, Barack Obama is now on the hook. His success or failure depends in large part upon his ability to wrangle the out-of-control partisans in his legislative branch, and also in part upon those he chooses to inhabit his inner circle. On the latter, his mind seems set; on the former, however, he must act and act fast.
Obama ran with the promise that he would listen to both sides. While I knew such statements to be nothing more than empty drivel on the stump, perhaps everyone else realized it when he shot down Republican Rep. Eric Cantor’s ideas for economic stimulus with a simple “I won.” In order to succeed, Obama must abandon that sharp partisanship and at least entertain the ideas from the other side of the aisle.
Regardless, we must continue to hold our elected officials on both sides accountable for their actions. We must still make phone calls where necessary, and we must continue to speak with our friends, our families and our co-workers about what’s going on in the halls of Congress and the White House. Neither Congress nor the White House are doing their jobs, and the mainstream media certainly is not, either. Look around your dinner tables, look outside your car windows on your commute — America and Her people, especially Her children, depends upon us.