In the Arena

Stiff ‘Em

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Huffpost reports that the House GOP members, who had so many wonderful things to say about the stimulus package was wending through the Congress, are now trying to take advantage of it. Politics 101 dictates the following: They should pay the price for their latter-day Hooverism. As little money as humanly, legally possible should go to their districts. (Add: Since most of the money in the bill is guaranteed to those who are hurting–i.e. people who are unemployed–regardless of location, the pain would be marginal. Eric Cantor shouldn’t expect a wind farm in his district.)

I’ve just spent a few weeks outside the country and, when you take a step away from the media maelstrom, the overwhelming impression is the sheer volume and severity of the problems that the country and the world–and our new President–are facing right now. This is a global crisis. A great many people are being hurt badly. There is a real chance that it will get much, much worse, especially if the banking system does not hold. All of us, including Republicans who oppose the Administration’s policies, should hope that the Obamajobs flowing from the stimulus package and the Obamaloans–to 9 million homeowning families, announced today (and applied judiciously, one hopes)–have the desired effect. Let’s also hope that the important, long-range programs that are more necessary than ever now–a universal health insurance program, an alternative energy economy–get the hearing they deserve in the months to come. 

But we should also take careful note of those who have opposed these programs–especially those who have done so for cynical, political reasons (as opposed to those, like Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana, who are merely philosophically deluded). Their braying, and playing of Aerosmith songs, seems inappropriate, tone-deaf and puerile, at a moment of real pain and fear. Those in the media who egg them on, or give them inordinate attention, are no better.

Update: It seems some Republican governors are weighing whether or not to accept their share of the money. Reading between the lines, it seems they’re most opposed to what Sarah Palin calls “social programs.” That is, programs like Medicaid that are intended to help the poor. I’m not sure they can do that. But there should be a rule–if you don’t accept the “social programs” you can’t build the next bridge to nowhere. (As for Medicaid, it is a very inefficient program that should be rectified by including the poor in a national health insurance system.)