Today as President Barack Obama argued for his stimulus package, Republican leaders John Boehner and Mitch McConnell continued to claim that the package won’t work, and that spending on things like education is waste.
McConnell said, “Now, if most Republicans were convinced that this would work, there might be a greater willingness to support it. But all the historical evidence suggests that it’s highly unlikely to work. And so, you have to balance the likelihood of success versus the crushing debt that we’re levying on the backs of our children, our grandchildren, and, yes, their children…So let me just sum it up by saying no action is not what any of my Republican colleagues are advocating. But most of us are deeply skeptical that this will work. And that level of skepticism leads us to believe that this course of action should not be chosen.”
Boehner said, “But ultimately this bill should be judged on whether it works, and 90 percent of a bad idea is still a bad idea. Like the House-passed bill, the proposed Senate bill appears to be focused overwhelmingly on slow-moving and wasteful Washington spending, rather than immediate job creation and fast-acting tax relief. This is not what the American people want; nor is it what the President called for at the start of the process. Both of these massively flawed proposals should be scrapped in favor of a truly bipartisan plan that will help our economy preserve and create jobs. The American people want and deserve nothing less.”
Obama went after the Republicans in his radio address, “Let’s be clear: We can’t expect relief from the tired old theories that, in eight short years, doubled the national debt, threw our economy into a tailspin, and led us into this mess in the first place. We can’t rely on a losing formula that offers only tax cuts as the answer to all our problems while ignoring our fundamental economic challenges – the crushing cost of health care or the inadequate state of so many schools; our addiction to foreign oil or our crumbling roads, bridges, and levees. The American people know that our challenges are great. They don’t expect Democratic solutions or Republican solutions – they expect American solutions.”
The president broke out the bully pulpit and started selling his plan on a state by state basis, “From the beginning, this recovery plan has had at its core a simple idea: Let’s put Americans to work doing the work America needs done. It will save or create more than 3 million jobs over the next two years, all across the country – 16,000 in Maine, nearly 80,000 in Indiana – almost all of them in the private sector, and all of them jobs that help us recover today, and prosper tomorrow.”
However, Republicans have only been able to specifically cite a couple of billion dollars of waste in the package. The examples include, “$246 million tax break for Hollywood movie producers to by motion picture film, $650 million for digital converter box coupons program. $248 million for furniture at the new Homeland Security headquarters which will be built at a cost of $448 million, $600 million to by hybrid vehicles for federal employees, $150 million for Smithsonian museum facilities, $75 million for “smoking cessation activities,” $6 billion to turn federal buildings into “green’ buildings.
It turns out that the Republicans consider increased education spending, including increasing Pell Gants, a waste. They also consider increased Medicare/Medicaid spending a waste. Many Congressional Republicans are also opposed to providing more money to bankrupt state and local governments. In fact, in their view anything that isn’t increased food stamps, unemployment, and tax cuts is waste. Ironically, it was Republican amendments that added an extra $100 billion to the Senate price tag. Republicans only seem to worry about waste when the money is going to Main St. They have never had a problem with corporate welfare.
The only history of failure that Republicans can cite for this type of package is Japan in the 1990s. U.S. history shows that tax cuts alone tend to take a bad economic situation and make it worse. While FDR’s public spending didn’t end the Great Depression, it did stop the bleeding. Obama doesn’t seem to be trying to fix the economy with this package, but he wants to stop the downward spiral and get things moving. Republicans are gambling that this package fails, because if it works, they can forget about picking up seats in 2010.