Believe it or not, there is a similarity between Bush’s War on Terror and Obama’s proposed stimulus package. Back in 2001 after 9/11, the country faced an unprecedented national crisis. President Bush asked for a series of reactionary measures and by in large he was shown bipartisan deference. Flash forwards to today’s economic crisis, and President Obama is also asking for drastic measures for the unprecedented crisis. But this time, the president has encountered overwhelming partisan dissent from House Republicans.
Had anyone voted against the Patriot Bill, domestic surveillance or the War(s), the Republicans would have questioned their patriotism. So what’s the story today? Don’t the Republicans believe in the severity of the economic crisis, or are they simply playing petty partisanship? As we all know, they cannot honestly believe that tax relief is the answer.
Maybe the Republicans have actually learned a lesson from the dangers of the Bush Cheney run-wild experience where the masses followed their leaders blindly. In all sincerity, that is what we should all have in mind as Obama asks for the mammoth +$800 billion. It is no joking matter, and the American public and politicians should not sleepwalk as they did after 9/11.
As a matter of fact, there are real, nonpartisan concerns about the stimulus package — of course, none of which have been genuinely articulated by the Republicans. And quite frankly, there is not a single serious economist out there who has expressed a faith (or research for that matter) in tax cuts as a viable solution. Rather, the concerns have centered around the types of spending, the amounts (many even think the number too small), and how quickly the investment will take effect. Another criticism of the package is that it includes wasteful measures, such as the tax cuts and earmarks specifically added to appease Republicans.
Personally, my biggest concern would be getting it right and not getting too caught up in the fear-mongering demand for speed. But because the economic crises of the past do not appear to directly apply and because we don’t have to rely on information given to us by Dick Cheney and the Rumsfeld Defense Department, I prefer to defer to independent economists like Paul Krugman on how to proceed.
As far as the Republicans are concerned, it is difficult to accept that their objections are bona fide, especially considering that they offer little more than bogus, ineffectual tax cuts. How it is that the theoretical custodians of American capitalism cannot come up with a dignified economic theory to address the problem? Furthermore, the arguments against public infrastructure investment are equally laughable. For those who consider (or even desire) that the U.S. is the most advanced nation in the world, then I recommend they do a little traveling to see just how antiquated our roads, trains, buses and subways have become – not to mention our airports, most of which look more like a fast food eatery that occupies an abandoned bus terminal.
So where’s the beef? Without any substantive proposal and with almost unanimous partisan dissent against a popular president whose hand is extended, should we be left questioning Republican patriotism? Ironically, after practically ever industry and company in the world has suffered from the economic crisis, Exxon Mobil has just announced record profits (yet again). How is it that Republicans can be so set against government spending when it comes to saving the economy if they had no trouble spending billions (in debt) on a war that has helped no one other than Exxon Mobil? Remember John McCain and the Republicans early in the elections wanting to further reward the oil companies?
Note: the above cartoon is from the January 30, 2009 Toles in the Washington Post.