Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Last couple of days: Geithner talks, stocks tank; Senate passes stimulus bill; House/Senate agreement to compromise "cut"

It's old news, but Geithner's "I dunno" speech yesterday tanked the stock market well below the 8,000 point level, considered by many economists as the bottom for the stock market. This simply showed that the bottom has not been reached yet.

The Senate, unsurprisingly, passed their version of the stimulus bill by a 61-37 vote. It went pretty much by party line with the exception of three Republicans: Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins (both from Maine) and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania. Quick question: Why do any of these three even bother calling themselves Republican? And what's the deal with Maine sending these turncoats to the Senate? Can't they even figure out the difference between a liberal and a conservative up there? Is there even a true Republican party structure in that state? A bit of advice for those three: change your designation from (R) to (D) fast. In fact, Mr. Steele, who is now the head of the Republican Party, should just chuck these three jackasses (literally and figuratively) to the curb. They want to be Independents, fine. But they should not even bother calling themselves Republicans after this little episode.

And now onto today's action:

Apparently, a compromise ($789 billion) was reached between the Senate and the House over the stimulus package today. And so quickly too. My question was whether the Republicans were even included in the "compromise" process?

"Negotiators have resolved the differences between the House and Senate versions of the stimulus bill, Sen. Harry Reid said Wednesday. 'The bills were really quite similar, and I'm please to announce that we've been able to bridge those differences,' said Reid, the Senate majority leader.
'Like any negotiation, this involved give and take, and if you don't mind my saying so, that's an understatement,' he said.

Yeah, you should definitely be patting yourself on the back for this one, Harry. The fact that the bills are roughly similar seems to suggest, without any other data, that not much was negotiated on at all. I can't possibly believe that the Republicans were even consulted over this, since the compromise was so quick. But please, by all means, wipe your brow of all the sweat you went through.

" Negotiators worked late into the night to iron out differences between the two versions of the stimulus bill.
President Obama said he wanted the bill on his desk by Presidents Day, which is next Monday

It sure sounds like you guys went to the turf on this one. But look at the bright side: the bill will
make the Messiah's timetable by Monday. That's what was truly important, right? Like Senator Schmuck Schumer said yesterday, Americans don't really mind the pork...

"Reid praised the three 'brave' GOP senators who broke ranks to the support the bill: Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine and Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania.
Of the 219 Republicans in Congress, they were the only three to back the bill.
'Today we have shown that, working together, we can address the enormous economic crisis facing our country,' Collins said.
Collins said the agreement has a price tag of $789 billion, less than both the House and Senate versions.
Reid said this middle ground creates more jobs than original Senate bill, and spends less than the original House bill
. "

Yeah, the first part speaks volumes. Like I said before, those three should be chucked out of the Republican Party, like yesterday. Oh yeah, Collins, don't be too proud of this monstrosity that you so love. It's only $30 billion less than the House and $51 billion less than the Senate. Let's look at that percentagewise: that's less than 4% off both the House and Senate bills. In other words, Collins' idea of cutting is a miniscule percentage of what will now be passed. That's the middle ground???!!! That's waste cutting you can believe in.

"Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Nebraska, summed up the bill as a 'jobs bill.'
'Today you might call us the 'jobs squad,' said Nelson, one of the key negotiators. 'Because that's what we're attempting to do: to make sure that people will have the opportunity to hang on to their jobs that they have today, and they'll be able to get jobs if they lose their jobs.'
Multiple Democratic sources had offered details on topics that had to be worked out:

35 percent of the bill would be tax cuts; 65 percent would be spending.
Tax breaks for workers that had been set at $1,000 per family or $500 per individual would be scaled back to $800 per family and $400 per individual.
$44 billion in aid to states, including money for education and other services.
More funding to help people buy health insurance through the federal COBRA program.
$6 billion to $9 billion for modernizing and repairing schools.
The funding for schools is intended to assuage House Democrats who are upset that the Senate cut $20 billion for school construction
. "

Yeah, Ben, that's just what I was thinking when I saw this bill. Try calling yourselves the "pork squad" and it'll be a tad more accurate. So let me postulate this argument: In order to save jobs, we're going to tax the crap out of businesses, so they have even less of a profit margin than before. Therefore in order to be competitive (and to keep prices low so that consumers, at least those who have jobs, can actually buy those items or services at a reasonable price) they cut jobs to keep those margins up. Those people that you're trying to save will no longer have jobs. Now, if this happens to enough businesses, how are they going to find another job if none are available? It's a vicious cycle. It's clear that logic and politicians do not mix well at all.

So essentially, those 35% tax cuts will be dwarfed by the 65% spending, since that extra money will have to come from somewhere (and I can pretty much guess how that'll come about). Tax breaks have been scaled back so the people will have less money to spend. The education money for the states will be pissed away (much like the previous bailout package). Ok, $6-9 billion could produce construction jobs, but that's a drop in the bucket (less than 1% of the bailout). Umm...

I'm sorry, I'm drawing a blank. How is this insanity going to produce jobs again?

"Democrats in the Senate must hold on to at least two Republican votes in order to get the 60 votes needed to pass the bill. Not a single Republican voted in support of the House version of the bill, but the House Democrats have a large enough majority that they were still able to pass it.
The three Republican senators who voted in favor of the package indicated Wednesday that they were pleased with the agreement.
'As I said, unless the bill remained virtually intact from what the agreement was last Friday, my support would be conditional on that, and we got there," Specter said. 'I think it is an important component of putting America back on its feet.'

Ah, so here we come to the crux of the compromise, which was essentially no compromise at all (at least in the true sense). Translation: The House Republicans are irrelevant so they don't need to be consulted and the Democrats need to hold onto at least two of the three RINOs who voted for it before. And from what I can see, I don't think that will be much of a problem. So much for the spirit of bipartisanship and unity that the Democrats puked out for several weeks after the inauguration.

"Specter said earlier Wednesday that he's aware of the political danger he's putting himself in but that action is needed to pump up the ailing economy. 'I understand the peril, but I didn't run for the United States Senate to further my own political interests,' he said on CNN's 'American Morning.'
When asked about the possible political backlash from his vote supporting the bill, Specter said. 'It's a good plan, not a perfect plan. But a good plan, and I'll take my chances.'

Ok, I truly believe that Specter is a bit of a dipshit. Who else could come up with the Magic Bullet theory that followed JFK's assassination (yes, he advocated that)? However, I seriously doubt that his political career is in much jeopardy. I mean, we're talking about Pennsylvania and that's basically a blue state (I don't see how this battleground state nonsense keeps cropping up every election). I predict that he'll be voted back in next election because he's essentially a closet Democrat.

Overall, I cannot say I'm surprised by the outcome of this package. There was little to no chance that the Republicans could really stop it from passing, barring a total revolt from the Democratic congresspeople. Yes, a few did switch over to vote against it in the House, but it was not enough. As for the Senate, I figured that a couple of RINOs would side with the Democrats on this and sure enough, that happened (though I admit that less did so than I imagined). I still believe that the Republicans should vote against it, so that there is no real showing of bipartisanship. I believe that this bill will ultimately fail and if there is fallout, then let the Democrats reap the whirlwind (though they'll probably just blame it on the Republicans and most Americans will accept that).

As for the RINOs, I think we now have a clear idea who the real turncoats are and they should be driven from the Republican Party. It makes no logical sense for the Party to keep these people on if they will continuously spit in its face when they are needed most. They should not be made welcome in a Party they clearly do not believe in.

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