By the measure of nearly any presidency, the passage of a massive, $787 billion stimulus bill three weeks into the Obama administration is a remarkable achievement. The economic analysts I read and listen to say (a) it probably won't prove enough in the long run but (b) it'll certainly help and may at least keep unemployment below 10 percent in what will be a very painful year.
Republicans, meanwhile, are yelling "fire" in a crowded theater. The measure they say will "mortgage our children's future." They repeat this mantra in lockstep on TV talks shows, at press confeerences, and, ultimately, on the news. They also wag a finger and somberly note that they want bipartisanship, but that it has failed here because of Democrats desire to distribute pork back home.
No House Republicans voted for the stimulus. Three blue state Senate Republicans assured passage by giving the measure their support: Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and Susan Collins and Olympia Stowe, both of Maine. And self-proclaimed "Mr. Maverick," John McCain? He's leading the sanctimonious Republican hand-wringing accusing the Democrats of selling our children's future.
So let's set the record straight. Yes, bipartisanship failed but not for lack of trying by President Obama and not because the measure was laden with pork. I hope the president doesn't waste his time trying too hard to wine and dine the GOP in the future. There is too much work to be done to waste a lot of energy on the party of non-regulation and non-responsiveness.
This is the crowd, after all, that under W. ran up the largest deficit in American history and left the country in the shambles we now find ourselves digging out of. Somehow Republicans didn't worry too much about our children's future when they passed $1.2 trillion in tax cuts while increasing federal spending. They didn't worry about our children's future when they poured upwards of another trillion dollars into waging and supporting a war in Iraq started to stop phantom weapons of mass destruction. They didn't worry about our children's future when they allowed crooks like Bernard Madoff to rip off his clients of $50 billion in the world's biggest Ponzi Scheme or when they stood by while executives at Merrill Lynch awarded themselves 700 $1- million-plus salaries in a year in which the company lost $27 billion.
When the same folks who brought us bankrupting tax policies, the albatross of an unwinnable war and an ethic of unregulated greed now wag a finger of coordinated righteousness, it strikes me as the ultimate act of hypocrisy.