By Jessica Hobby Catto
The economic sky is falling and most of the Republicans have been huddled together playing keep away with the stimulus package. Senator McCain gloated that the President cannot call the vote bi-partisan if it gets 4 or 5 Republican votes. What kind of statement is that? That is "nanny, nanny boo, boo" if we ever heard it. McCain might as well have said straight out:
"Yes, you won, but now it's my turn to have a little fun. I am loving watching you flounder in the deep end of the economy. Do I have a constructive idea? Not a bit of it. I will just point out that we oppose whatever you propose. The American people? Oh, bother."
Senator Lindsay Graham, Republican from South Carolina fulminated uncharacteristically that "this bill is stinking up the place." This is the attitude that turned out the vote for Barak Obama.
Careful, Republicans, you are shooting yourself in the foot again. You got us into this unprecedented mess. Now put a sock in it and start bailing. You sound like a mouthpiece for Rush Limbaugh, and that makes you seem, well, childish. Leadership is for adults.
We know we need a bill. And, yes, the legislation will cost money. Stimulus depends on a lot of things and a basic component is spending money in order to put unemployed Americans to work again. Our infrastructure has the rickets and needs immediate attention. What a good fit: people who need work and works that needs fixing.
Our energy sources need revising and are hungry for new workers and new investment credits. What an opportunity: a new booming business product for an energy and industry starved nation.
Senator Susan Collins from Maine, a Republican, is one of the adults and should take a bow. She has been working hard on a compromise. She has kept her voice down, has offered constructive revisions and has hunkered down to work out an agreement. That is the way the two party system should function when there are grown-ups as the functionaries.
Of course, there are items that could and should have been expunged from the $8-plus billion dollar package. Of course, careful tax cuts should be a part of the mix. This is not an either/or situation and Senator Collins is sophisticated enough to know it. Moderates come up front to the footlights. Ideologues and professional blowhards to the back, please. Senator Arlen Specter does not like the time table, but is willing to help the President. Good timing.
Congratulations to the Democrats who gave up programs they wanted in order to reach agreement. Applause. The American people won this one.
Republicans profess to be horrified by the further deficit the stimulus plan will probably cause. Deficits cause inflation and loss of faith in a currency. The truth is that Democrats, too, are horrified by the deficits. But the big numbers were rolled up during the Bush administration. The banking crisis exploded on the Bush watch. And now we have to hold our collective noses and take on more debt to climb out of our hole. None of us is doing a jig, but the banks, or at least, some of them, have to be stabilized. That takes money. When people need jobs and the private sector is firing, not hiring, government has a rescue role to play.
Is the stimulus bill a risk in terms of running up the national tab? Yes. Is there a greater risk to a stricken America if we don't pass it? Yes. The road ahead is not crystal clear. We cannot, however, just stand on the edge of the abyss and continue staring into it; we have to take a leap across it or watch the ground erode under our feet as we slide down. Hardly a perfect choice for our imperfect world. Remember the old annoying expression: "Got a lemon, make lemonade?" That about sums up our situation.
Rush, the classic bully brat, said that he hoped President Obama fails. The majority of Republicans, stamping their feet and bleating like frightened sheep, seem to be echoing that sentiment. Senator Collins and Senator Specter are the leaders their colleagues should get behind. The rest of you should leave Limbaugh's lap and think and speak with your own brains in gear before your mouth runs away.