The bank bailouts are now expected to cost $200 billion less than initially anticipated. When last week President Obama rightfully proposed using these funds to pay for job creation plans, how do you suppose Republican leaders in Congress reacted?
"So now they want to use that $200 billion as another slush fund," crowed the President's former rival, John McCain. House Republican Leader John Boehner said that using the money for job creation amounted to "a slush fund for politicians." Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) and Fox News also jumped on the slush fund bandwagon. Everyone got the talking points.
A definition of "slush fund," from Merriam-Webster's online dictionary: "An unregulated fund often used for illicit purposes."
Job creation equals slush fund? Give me a break.
This shrill Republican message is deeply offensive at a time when nearly 16 million Americans are out of a job and millions more can't get the work hours they need to pay their bills. The fact is that $200 billion is just the start of what it will take to create jobs and ensure a sustained recovery.
If we spend about $400 billion on smart, targeted job creation proposals, we can create at least 4.6 million jobs in one year. And we must. The unemployment situation is a national disaster, and it demands a major emergency response.
There is no question that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed earlier this year has worked as intended. By the end of the year, it will have created between 1.6 million and 2 million jobs. Things would be a lot worse today without it. The fact that we still need to do more just shows how severely last year's financial crisis weakened the economy.
Yet Republican leaders cruelly regard spending on job creation - a crucial lifeline for workers - as nothing more than a slush fund. In its place, they offer as "job creation" more of what got us into this mess in the first place - deregulation and the very ideas voters rejected in November 2008. Their ideas are bunk and their rhetoric is absurd. Let's ignore them and get on with the urgent business of putting Americans back to work.