Every House Republican and 11 Democrats voted against President Barack Obama’s $819 billion stimulus package. It still passed by a vote of 244 to 188.
There are enough votes in the Senate to pass the bill, but the obstructionist Republican minority, still nursing the wounds inflicted by the public in the November election, can block it by endless political maneuvering and a filibuster.
The Republicans wail that the President’s stimulus package is laden with spending proposals that don’t directly attack the recession. However, instead of debating the merits of the package, instead of proposing amendments to add to or subtract from the $819 billion, the Republicans ganged up, voted as a bloc, and placed party loyalty above the needs of the nation.
These are the same “fiscally responsible” Republicans who weren’t reluctant to give away billions of taxpayer money to Halliburton, KBR, and other corporations favored by the Bush-Cheney Administration. These are the same Republicans who did little to control runaway spending that brought the nation from a surplus when Bill Clinton left office to the largest deficit in the history of the nation. These are also the same Republicans, unfortunately assisted by a large chunk of complicit Democrats, who most assuredly weren’t reluctant to create a $750 billion bailout package that benefited banks, insurance companies, and the Wall Street millionaires of greed, and was lacking adequate oversight or accountability.
These are the same Republicans who came up with two tax cuts or rebates, most of which helped Big Business, with some chum thrown to the masses before the 2006 and 2008 elections. Rebates, which the Republicans demand be placed in the new stimulus bill, didn’t work then; they won’t work now.
And, now they oppose President Obama’s plan that would save or create about three million jobs, improve the nation’s infrastructure, provide health care for the uninsured, fund clear-water and environmental projects, provide housing assistance, improve mass transit, provide additional funding for special education programs, and assist both the workers and the nation to recover from a Recession that began more than a year ago.
The Republicans sniff that the President didn’t take their feelings into consideration.
However, unlike the previous “My way or the highway” President, this President met several times with the Republicans, got their advice and concerns, and included some of their suggestions into his proposed legislation. Apparently, the Republicans think bipartisan support means that the minority party must throw temper tantrums until they get everything it wants.
What these politicians don’t acknowledge is that their constituents, the American people, wanted Barack Obama to become president and lead the nation out of its myriad problems. One week after the inauguration, scientific polls showed President Obama with about a 70 percent popularity rating, the highest of any president in his first week. Only 12 percent were negative-the lowest of any president, and that includes George Washington.
In his inaugural address, Barack Obama told the nation “the time has come to set aside childish things.” A core of Republicans don’t understand this-they have dug in their heels and like Peter Pan are belting out the verse that they don’t want to grow up.
If the Republican minority continues to whine, complain, and try to block the nation’s recovery, they will cement their future as defenders of corporate greed and petty politics at the expense of the needs of the people.
[Walter Brasch is an award-winning journalist and university professor. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or through his website, www.walterbrasch.com]