Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Lessons Learned

The economic stimulus debate has provided a great opportunity for us all to learn some valuable lessons.

Over on the right:
The party, these Republicans say, need only hold true to its small-government principles for a center-right electorate to gravitate back. That means rejecting the stimulus package and offering in its place an alternative package centered mostly on tax cuts, as House Republicans did last week.

From the left:

The economics of the thing — the near-unanimous view of economists who think stimulus makes any sense at all that spending offers a bigger bang for the buck than tax cuts — doesn’t seem to have penetrated their thinking at all.

And coming from the middle:

"In order for us to get the confidence of America, it has to be done in a bipartisan way," Shuler said in Raleigh following an economic forum. "We have to have everyone - Democrats and Republicans standing on the stage with the administration - saying 'We got something done that was efficient, stimulative and timely.'"

And finally from President Obama:

“People have to break out of some of the ideological rigidity and gridlock that we’ve been carrying around for too long.”

So, what have we learned? We’ve learned that the Republicans will not compromise in any way, shape or form because it is not in their long-term interest to do so, no matter what President Obama says about "ideological rigidity."

We’ve learned that Democrats will compromise, because they still believe in the Bipartisan Fairy. And if the GOP won't budge, then the left has to move over to the right to make the Bipartisan Fairy manifest. Prest-o, bing-o, "center-right" America arrives. And the ones who get screwed in this deal are the American people, who don't get the government action that they need and deserve--and voted for.

What is the alternative? I have no clue. I just know that what we've got now isn't going to work. It's legislative failure by design, and that design comes straight from the GOP, who are taking their cues from a guy who makes $38 million a year. That's some kind of populism.

At yesterday's rally someone told me she was very angry about the whole economic stimulus package. Even worse, she'd thought our big election victory in November meant she wouldn't have to get angry any more. Sadly, no.

Perhaps that is our most important lesson of all.