Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Bipartisan - Shmipartisan

Bipartisanship went hand in hand with hope during the campaign. At the inaugural we heard that the "ground has shifted!" But as expected, what remains of the Republican party has slapped Obama's hand of "bipartisanship" on the stimulus package.

The White House has told us that the stimulus package is crucial to our economic recovery, yet despite having enough votes to pass the plan, our new President insists on trying to get Republican support. Why? Compromise has resulted in watering down the legislation he says is key to getting America moving again. Republicans want massive corporate tax cuts, and caps on infrastructure spending. Obama appears to be willing to give it to them in the name of "bipartisanship."

In what bizarre parallel universe does this make sense?

Didn't Obama just win the election? Didn't America elect Democrats to a majority in both houses of Congress? Doesn't that mean the President can pretty much pass anything he damn well pleases without asking the Republicans? Why water down the legislation you claim is key to our future, if you don't have to?

As always, I have a few ideas:

1. Obama believes that bipartisanship is its own virtue and should be pursued at all costs;

2. Obama actually thinks he needs the elephants for some reason;

3. Obama is looking for political cover.

I find it hard to believe that a guy as smart as Obama is naive enough to believe options one or two. The answer lies in political cover. Like so many other experts, the President has no idea if the stimulus package will work. If it doesn't, he wants to be able to turn to his detractors two years from now and say; "but the Republicans voted for it too!" Politically shrewed, but a little cynical for the man with hope.

I have my concerns about the stimulus package. How do we massively increase spending while cutting taxes? Why are we giving money to private companies who managed themselves in to bankruptcy? Why haven't taxpayers gotten the benefit of voting shares in the companies who got funds? Why isn't most of the money going to a public works program?

Clearly the president doesn't share my concerns though. If Obama believes this package is the right thing to do, he can do it. Show some guts and do what you claim is right. This bipartisan approach is only going to get us half measures.

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