Partisanship as Cosmetic Surgery
You have to hand it to the Republican party. They have found a can’t-lose approach to our current economic crisis.
Case 1: The economy recovers. The Republicans, only three of whom voted for the stimulus package, will say that markets are “self-healing”. The economy has rebounded in spite of the stimulus package. The natural ups and downs of the market have manifested themselves. Boy are we lucky the stimulus package didn’t do more harm!
Case 2: The economy continues to sink. Ah, we said it wouldn’t work! You see, that stimulus package has made matters worse. It’s 2010 folks, vote for lots of Republicans!
Do you need proof of their strategy? Look at Karl Rove’s warning to his party in the Wall Street Journal:
But if Republicans predict economic doom, they will overplay their hand. The Democratic stimulus will slow recovery, but not stop it. Recessions don’t last forever and, if history is a guide, sometime late this year or early next the economy will rebound on its own. When that happens, Democrats will argue that their untargeted, permanent spending actually revived the economy.
The emphasis in the above quote was added by me. Of course Rove here accuses the Democrats of doing the inverse of what the Republican plan is. The Democrats will take credit for an inevitable upturn to which they have made no real contribution.
Am I the only one who sees an incredible smugness and cynicism to this line of thinking? First, it confounds me how Republicans can advocate doing next to nothing while the markets self correct. How many people have to lose their jobs and their homes while we wait for this economic theory to materialize? The cynicism comes from this idea of unanimously opposing the President’s initiatives so if they don’t work, the GOP will look like geniuses who were ignored.
While I may not like the idea, partisanship is probably the best play the Republicans can make in this government ruled by contention. In six of the last eight years, they betrayed their creed, they spent us into the ground (partly on a war we shouldn’t have been fighting) and now they have their chance to be self righteous. In the words of Rove, “Over the past month, House Republicans have used the stimulus bill to redefine their party”. Doesn’t it comfort you that our nation’s dismal state provides the Republican party with an opportunity for a makeover? They can focus on their image while the rest of us struggle.
Hurry Up, I’m Late for My Plane!
Democrats are no saints in this mess either. Today on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”, Boston based columnist Mike Barnacle expressed understandable outrage at one of the motivating factors for the rush to sign the stimulus bill. Joe Scarborough agreed with him and so did I. You see, it’s vacation time for Congress right now. Our representatives had a choice to cancel their planned vacations and read the bill more carefully and perhaps negotiate it to a better standard or they could go ski in the Rockies. They chose the latter.
According to a pundit I watched on TV last week, this mindset is not at all unusual and it is exclusive to no party affiliation. You don’t get in the way of Congress and their vacation. So when you watch congressional hearings where the various representatives rake bankers and corporate big wigs over the coals for “not getting it”, you’re actually witnessing the pot calling the kettle black.