Friday, February 6, 2009

Friday political rant

I must get out of this habit. It's not a good way to end the week. The news, however, is not cooperating. So I'll make this short. (Ok, no, I guess I won't.)

President Obama stepped up pressure on Congress today to pass a massive economic stimulus bill, citing new unemployment numbers to charge that further delay is "inexcusable and irresponsible."

In remarks at an appearance to introduce a new Economic Recovery Advisory Board, Obama also stressed that his election in November gave him a mandate for change, and he endorsed the size, scope and priorities of the stimulus package -- now totaling more than $900 billion -- in the face of Republican opposition.

What's inexcusable and irresponsible is trying to ram through this unstimulating "stimulus" crap under cover of the economic crisis. As Charles Krauthammer so aptly put it in his op-ed today,

It's not just pages and pages of special-interest tax breaks, giveaways and protections, one of which would set off a ruinous Smoot-Hawley trade war. It's not just the waste, such as the $88.6 million for new construction for Milwaukee Public Schools, which, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, have shrinking enrollment, 15 vacant schools and, quite logically, no plans for new construction.

It's the essential fraud of rushing through a bill in which the normal rules (committee hearings, finding revenue to pay for the programs) are suspended on the grounds that a national emergency requires an immediate job-creating stimulus -- and then throwing into it hundreds of billions that have nothing to do with stimulus, that Congress's own budget office says won't be spent until 2011 and beyond, and that are little more than the back-scratching, special-interest, lobby-driven parochialism that Obama came to Washington to abolish. He said.

And, by the way, where is the media outrage at the presdent playing the "politics of fear?" Sorry. That outrage is permanently Reserved For BUSH! At least for now.

As for this "mandate for change," it's quite unseemly how both Obama and Biden keep waving their election victory in everyone's face. "I won," is something you might expect to hear from a 12 year old who succeeded in being elected student council president after a particularly nasty campaign. Coming from a president of the United States, it's downright embarrassing. Obama won the election. And he won it by a healthy 7.2% margin. But 47% of the Americans who voted didn't opt for his brand of change. And like it our not, he's our president too. I didn't like this "mandate" talk when it came from President Bush and I like it even less now.

We still have an independent legislative branch in this country and each and every one of our representatives is entitled and expected to excercise his or her best judgment in the service of his or her constituents. They'd better keep it up, even in the face of presidential temper tantrums.

If Obama would start behaving a little more like a leader and a little less like a spoiled brat, he just might find a way to bring the folks in Washington together to figure out a solution that would actually help to steer us through this global and national crisis. So far, all I see is lots of bad ideas and even more money being thrown at them. It's not good. It's not hopeful. And it's not change that most of us can or should believe in.

Shabbat Shalom.