Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Entertaining twist with the US economic crisis

This is for folk like me who've maintained their sense of dark humor as the US tries to pick itself up during a huge economic downturn. The stimulus bill did pass, and it did so largely on the strength of one party's influence in Congress (both in the House and Senate). A few Republicans crossed the aisle to vote for it in the Senate, but mainly the minority party had no interest in the project because they wanted to concentrate solely and completely on tax cuts, viewing infrastructure projects, state aid, and health care investments to be a waste of time.

Unfortunately, the bill was seriously curtailed before passage as an effort to court Republican support that they declined to give even after having many of their demands met. For a good breakdown of the winners and losers in the final version of the bill, check here. For those folk out there who want to know what the stimulus actually does, I would check that link. It'll give you a good place to start to look up the worth of the individual projects.

The humorous part? Legislators voting against the stimulus and then immediately turning around and bragging to their constituents about all the money coming to their states to help them out.

The final vote on the $787 billion measure broke down exactly as expected.

What's more, it was legislation the minority party wanted nothing to do with. Three Senate Republicans broke ranks, while zero House Republicans backed the plan. That, in and of itself, isn't especially surprising -- there were philosophical differences, coupled with strategic considerations, alongside a desire to embarrass the president.

What is at least a little surprising, though, is seeing some of the same Republicans who rejected the package issue press releases touting the spending measures in their districts. (...)

In Mica's press release about the stimulus package, for example, he not only applauded the spending for his district, he neglected to mention altogether that he opposed the bill. Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), who also issued a press release claiming "victory" for an Alaskan contracting program in the bill, also failed to mention that he voted against the measure that he's so excited about.
They're not the only Republicans who are suddenly deeply interested in obligating the federal government to help keep their states afloat. Governors--both Republican and Democrat--had been pushing for the stimulus package to get passed. I know that the list in this article isn't comprehensive, because my own governor is not mentioned and--despite his apparent unwillingness to bail out anybody below him--seems positively thrilled to receive money coming down from the federal level.
In the states, meanwhile, many Republican governors are practicing a pragmatic — their Congressional counterparts would say less-principled — conservatism.

Governors, unlike members of Congress, have to balance their budgets each year. And that requires compromise with state legislators, including Democrats, as well as more openness to the occasional state tax increase and to deficit-spending from Washington. (...)

The National Governors Association sent a bipartisan letter of support to Congressional leaders of both parties, signed by its Democratic chairman, Edward G. Rendell of Pennsylvania, and Mr. Douglas, its Republican vice chairman. “The combination of funds for Medicaid, education and other essential services is critical for governors as they work to manage the downturn in their states and improve government for the long term,” it said.

Mr. Crist even campaigned last week with Mr. Obama in Florida for the recovery package.

“Whether it’s teachers or people on road crews helping our infrastructure, those in the health care arena as it might relate to Medicaid, all of these areas are important, all of them can produce jobs,” Mr. Crist said, adding, “Regardless of what your party is, Republican or Democrat, it really doesn’t matter. We have a duty and an obligation to the people who elected us, no matter what our position happens to be, to work together to get through this thing.”
Summary: Republicans in the legislature were under all kinds of pressure to ignore the needs of state and local governments, and even to ignore the requests (demands?) of governors from their own party. So they voted against the stimulus bill, but as a compromise they took good news back home that help was on the way (possibly in the hopes that their constituents won't notice their legislators were willing to let them hang for the sake of pleasing guys like this one, who evidently run the Republican Party now.

That's your update. I just have to laugh at this, because the alternative is to go right the hell out of my mind with indignation.

No comments: