POLITICAL observations & opinions

* Obama: what do you think stimulus is (if not spending)

Posted by Lew Weinstein on February 7, 2009

Bob Herbert writes in the NYT (2-7-09) …

  • It was good to see the president, ordinarily so cool, so accommodating, exhibiting some real fire the other night.
  • With the economy in deep, deep trouble, and Americans suffering by the tens of millions, the Republicans spent much of the week doing their same-old, bad-faith Neanderthal two-step: trying their best to derail the economic stimulus package working its difficult way through Congress.
  • President Obama went out of his way to get a substantial number of Republicans to make a genuine effort to move the economic revitalization process along, but was rebuffed, and in some cases contemptuously.
  • On Thursday night, he struck back, attacking Republican intransigence and its failed policies of the past.
  • It’s been clear for years that the G.O.P. is a party without a heart. 
  • But its pointless obstructionism, its overall lack of any serious response to what is a clear national economic emergency, seems to indicate it’s also a party without a brain.
  • President Obama addressed Republican inflexibility on Thursday night when he said at a gathering in Williamsburg, Va., “Don’t come to the table with the same tired arguments and worn ideas that helped to create this crisis.”
  • Senator John McCain echoed many of his Republican colleagues on Friday when he indignantly asserted, “This is not a stimulus bill; it is a spending bill.”
  • It was an objection that had been addressed by an incredulous President Obama on Thursday night. “What do you think a stimulus is?” the president asked, his voice rising. Spending, he said — to laughter from his audience — “is the whole point.”


Assuming the Senate holds and passes the bill, the fight is still not over. There remains the joint House-Senate committee to resolve the differences between the two versions, and more votes in each house for final approval. Chris Matthews yesterday echoed a theme I wrote about, which is why not bring the vote to the floor in the Senate and dare the Republicans to stand up and filibuster, while more jobs are lost and they offer no reasonable alternative legislation. That has been avoided for the moment, but may still happen on the next round, and with other issues.

The Republican use of the filibuster in the past two years has been an obstructionist disgrace that I believe will be furiously rejected by the American people when they fully understand what has been going on. The Senate rules which allow filibuster need to be modified if not eliminated so that a minority of ideologues can no longer prevent the will of a clear majority. Of course, the alternative is to vote even more Republican Senators out of office.

Read the entire Bob Herbert column at … http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/07/opinion/07herbert.html?ref=opinion



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