Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Same As The Old Boss

The Republican response to all proposals by the Obama administration has certainly been consistent. As espoused by Bobby Jindal in his response to the President's speech last week and echoed by every speaker at the CPAC conference, the answer to our problems is not increased government aid but less government, more tax cuts and greater individual responsibility. This is the formula that led us to our current situation, but while some Republicans have accepted some responsibility for the current mess, they claim that it was the fault of the Bush administration for not adhering to these conservative principles.

The Republican leadership has railed against the administration for it's "out of control spending". They have called the President every thing from a socialist to a radical communist. They have accused him of trying to setup a "European style government" here in America. I'm frankly amazed that they haven't called him to task for his choice in dog. What the Republicans have failed to do however, is to tell the public what their vision of America is. They have talked about a tax cut only stimulus and smaller government and the lack of faith in the federal government to solve people's problem, but they have not told the American people what that would look like. Bobby Jindal used the example of the federal response to Katrina to illustrate the ineffectiveness of federal government in dealing with local problems. He did not, of course, tell the American people what the alternative would have been.

The states currently face massive shortfalls in their budgets and money provided by the stimulus package is the only way for them to maintain critical services. Some Republican governors have said that they will refuse the stimulus money because they believe that it is wasteful and does not effectively address the economic crisis. The stimulus package provides for the governors to be over ruled by their state legislatures in regards to accepting the money. I have no doubt that those states will end up accepting the money because economic reality will always win out over political ideology.

So what would America look like if the Republican version of the stimulus were enacted? We can look to a state like Louisiana for an example. When Bobby Jindal took over, the public schools were ranked 21st in the nation, this year they are ranked 35th. Fiscal conservatism is a fine ideal, but what is the cost in human terms? New York City has a $700 million shortfall for education funding for the upcoming fiscal year. Without the money from the stimulus, the city would be unable to pay for thousands of teachers. To republicans, that wouldn't be much of a problem. They would simply say that economic reality is that those in public school would simply have to do with less. The stimulus also provides for extended unemployment benefits. The Republican alternative would have no relief for those whose benefits have expired. The stimulus package provides money for health care. What would republicans say to those states who do not have the money to provide health care to the elderly? They would say that is the cost of fiscal responsibility.

The reality is that without help from the federal government, the states would have to cut back so severely on public services that the effects would be felt by almost every citizen. Services like garbage pick up would have to be cut back. Policemen and firemen would have to be laid off. The services provided by social workers, teachers, transit workers, health care providers and others would have to be dramatically scaled back. That is the reality of the republican alternative. It is the same reality that we have lived with for the past 30 years. The rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer. Newt Gingrich's big proposal to combat the economic crisis is to eliminate the capital gains tax!!#!?? How does that help middle and lower class Americans through this crisis? The answer is it doesn't, of course, but then when in the last 30 years have the republicans cared about that.

The reason that the Republicans refuse to illustrate their vision of what America would look like under their leadership is because they know that the American people would never buy it. So instead of laying out a viable alternative, they attack the President and his policies. Spending! they scream. Socialism! they bellow. Communism! they chant. But at the end of the day, they have no new answers to the problems that were created over the past 30 years. As our economy contracts to levels not seen in over a decade, the republican response is more of the same. The rich will eventually help the poor if we make them rich enough. That mantra however, does not feed or educate our children. It does not get medicine to the elderly. It does not keep former working families out of soon to be disappearing shelters.

The republicans pray for the failure of the presidents policies so that they can be returned to power. They realize the consequences if Obama fails, but they don't care. Power is their ultimate goal. The power to say who the government can help and who gets left behind. That is the reason for their opposition to the current administration. It is not about the amount of money being spent, but about where it is targeted.


Jack Jodell said...

The Republicans have become fearful guardians of an obsolete and discredited past, afraid to boldly step forward into an uncertain future. They are devoid of new ideas and their philosophy is bankrupt. They grow more extreme and unstable by the minute. Their "solution" of everyone making do with less (except business and fat cats, to whom they always want to give more) is preposterous. This party has become more mean-spirited than ever and delusional as well. They deserve to be banished to the nether regions of permanent political minority status until they become relevant, regain their senses, and stop trying to turn the country back to the roaring twenties.

SJ said...

"It's class warfare!"
"It's unamerican!"
"It's short sighted!"
"It's irresponsible!"

...are the Republicans talking about the last 15 years of their own "House" rule and the last eight years under George W. Bush, -or the Obama adimistration's plans for taxation and stimulus?

I agree completely if it all refers to the former.


Manifesto Joe said...

This post brings to my attention something I completely missed -- the part of Jindal's "response" that referred to the federal "response" to Hurricane Katrina. I saw parts of his lame speech, but missed that portion. Michelle Bernard of MSNBC framed a similar argument in a way that was more absurd, but apparently not by much. And if Jindal is one of the best politicians the Republicans have ... well, they're in trouble.

SJ said...

@Manifesto Joe,
You'd think Obama had been president for the past eight years, and not the last five weeks?
It's fascinating how Bobby Jindal cites a Republican failure, (one of the biggest and deadliest in history) to criticize the proposed policies of a Democrat.
I just sat through Grover Norquist speaking on the PBS News Hour tonight... he's still trying to sell that whole: don't-tax-the-Rich; don't-regulate-big-business; let-the-chips-fall-where-they-may economic policy of the last President's eight year implosion.
Saints preserve us.


Jack Jodell said...

Yes, Norquist must be breathing lutefisk fumes or something---he is completely out to lunch and always has been. And Jindal's pathetic TV debut was a perfect example of how illogical, delusional, irrelevant, and inadequate the current GOP line of thought has become. They have truly become today's literal "Know Nothing" party!