Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Much has happened in the last few days...

So several Obama candidates had to withdraw because they forgot to pay their taxes. Awesome. It seems to me that the Democrats love to hike the taxes up, but hate actually paying them. It's all for the greater good though, right?
I won't go into too much detail on this because it's old news. However...

The Chosen One still pushing for the stimulus package. I'm not really sure what his point is, since it'll pass with or without Republican support.

"Polite yet pointed, President Barack Obama pushed back against Republican critics of the U.S. economic stimulus legislation making its way through Congress on Wednesday at the same time he reached across party lines to consider changes in the bill.
'Let's not make the perfect the enemy of the essential,' Obama said as Senate Republicans stepped up their criticism of the bill's spending and pressed for additional tax cuts and relief for homeowners. He warned that failure to act quickly "will turn crisis into a catastrophe and guarantee a longer recession.'

I thought that he "won" already and didn't need to listen to Republicans? As for acting quickly, I'd rather see a well-reasoned and thought-out stimulus plan than one rushed through, like the last one. Again, I don't see what's stopping the Democrats. They have the Presidency, the have total control of the House and an almost-filibuster proof Senate. Why is this a problem for them?
You guys wanted the power, so act already.

"Democratic leaders have pledged to have legislation ready for Obama's signature by the end of next week, and they concede privately they will have to accept some spending reductions along the way. 'This bill needs to be cut down,' Republican leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor. He cited $524 million for a State Department program that he said envisions creating 388 jobs. 'That comes to $1.35 million per job,' he added.
Republicans readied numerous attempts to reduce the cost of the $900 billion measure, which includes tax cuts and new spending designed to ignite recovery from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 193os

This package wasn't dubbed Porkulus for nothing. And it's even bigger than before: over $900 billion. Fantastic. Once again, AP seems to have a flair for the dramatics regarding the economy. While there is an economic crisis, it is still not as bad as the one during the late 70's/early 80's, when we had over 10% unemployment. Until it gets that bad, I don't want to hear anything in comparison to the Great Depression.

"But after days of absorbing rhetorical attacks, Obama and Senate Democrats mounted a counteroffensive against Republicans who say tax cuts alone can cure the economy.
Obama said the criticisms he has heard 'echo the very same failed economic theories that led us into this crisis in the first place, the notion that tax cuts alone will solve all our problems.'
'I reject those theories, and so did the American people when they went to the polls in November and voted resoundingly for change,' said the president, who was elected by a wide margin and enjoys high public approval ratings at the outset of his term

Tax cuts alone won't do it. There will have to be deficit spending as well. However, tax cuts will increase money flow into the economy because it's keeping income with the people rather than the government (which always pisses it away on stupid shit). Tax cuts are a damn sight better than going on one of the biggest government spending sprees in American history. Actually, the 'failed economic theories' had nothing to do with economics, but mostly with the notion that government should get involved with the market (i.e. telling banks that they should loan out to schmucks who cannot pay them back). As for approval ratings, those can change very quickly. In fact, most Americans oppose the stimulus package as it is, which is really why the Democrats are treading carefully. It has nothing to do with Republican opposition so much as there is the real possibility that this stimulus package could fuck up the American economy. If there wasn't that wee little problem, the Democrats would be spending like there's no tomorrow without a care in the world.

"The president softened the partisan impact of his comments by meeting at the White House with Sen. OIympia Snowe, a moderate Republican lawmaker who periodically parts company with her party.
"The bill should not be an open invitation to spending in perpetuity, and I'm hopeful that we can address these issues during the Senate's amendment process," she said in a statement released by her office. She did not say whether she presented any specific recommendations to the president.
Separately, Sens. Susan Collins, a Republican, and Ben Nelson, a Democrat, have been working on a list of possible spending cuts totaling roughly $50 billion, although they have yet to make details public

As far as I'm concerned, this is simply another attempt by the Messiah to split the Republican opposition by catering to the weak links (i.e. RINOS). Ok, so we're going to cut $50 billion. That's fine, but since the bill that went from the House to the Senate went up by $80 billion (820-900 billion), how exactly is that cutting it? It's still an increase of $30 billion. I smell a rat.

"The House approved its own version of the stimulus bill last week on a party line vote, but the political environment in the Senate is far different.
Democrats hold a comfortable 58-41 majority. But because the legislation would increase the federal deficit, any lawmaker can insist that 60 votes be required to add to its cost.
While the 60-vote threshold can impose a check on Democrats, it can also illuminate the cross-pressures at work on Republicans

Translation: the Democrats can work on a few RINOs, like Snowe & Collins and get the package delivered more or less intact. God, I hate Northeastern Republicans...

"A Democratic attempt on Tuesday to add $25 billion for public works projects failed when it gained only 58 votes, two short of the total needed.
But a few hours later, a proposed $11 billion tax break for new car buyers attracted 72 votes, including several from Republicans. One, Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, later issued a statement applauding the provision. 'The car tax deduction amendment will make the purchase of a new car more affordable and encourage more people to buy a car,' he said

Ok, if you're currently unemployed, how exactly are you going to get the money to buy a new car? Trust me, in these economic times, I'm far more concerned with keeping a roof over my head and getting food. Buying a new car is one of the lower priorities at this point.

Overall, this is how I see it: The Democrats have the power, but it's tenuous. They have a monstrosity porkulus package that will probably not work (I've heard that only 25% of it is actually stimulus). They have the votes in Congress and a President that's willing to push it though. So why the misgivings? Do they really want this to be "bi-partisan?"

Of course not. They want to take credit for it if it succeeds (since the Republican yes votes are pretty much meaningless). However, should it fail, they want political cover (i.e. they want the Republicans to fall with them). So far, the Republicans are calling their bluff. It'll be interesting to see what the Republican senators do. It has nothing to do with conservatives wanting this to fail. This package is total pork bullshit and both sides know it. The Democrats are trying to weasel the Republicans by pushing the 'conscience' factor ("how can you hurt the people this way?"). The problem is that this package can hurt Americans because it's going to either raise taxes through the roof or it'll force the government to print a ton of more money, which'll increase inflation.

The gamble, far from it being Republican, is with the Democrats. They're savvy enough to know that it may not work (from my point of view, it's much simpler, since it definitely will not). In the last week, the Republicans found their spines. Let's hope that they keep it for a while longer.

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