Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Republicans Say the Darndest Things

I missed the president's speech tonight. After a long delay, I was finally able to meet with my personal Geek Squad alum to install additional memory in my computer and had promised to take him out for dinner as payment for his services. The installation was completed at 8 p.m. and we left for dinner so I'll be watching the speech on YouTube.

As we left the restaurant, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal was delivering the Republicans' response to the president's speech. He had, of course, drafted the response well before he heard the speech. For all I know, he also left for dinner at 8 p.m. and returned the to the governor's mansion in Baton Rouge in time to deliver the prepared remarks. Since it wasn't really a "response", Governor Jindal used his time to paint Democrats as evil proponents of big government intent on telling Americans what to do as they spend the nation into generational poverty. The Republicans, of course, offered the better alternative of cutting taxes so workers could keep more of their hard earned dollars and small businesses would receive incentives to create more jobs.

It made me sick.

I don't know if Vice President Biden was high (no pun intended) or low when he estimated that there was a 30% chance that the economic stimulus package just passed might not work. I do know that the Obama Administration and Congressional Democrats have the sense to realize that something different than the failed policies of the past eight years has to be tried.

I don't know where Governor Jindal was when the Bush Administration was running up trillions of dollars of deficits with the assistance of Republican lapdogs in Congress. I do know that his concern over the legacy of debt we are leaving for our children and grandchildren rings hollow and, as I've noted here before, has a Captain Renault air of genuineness about it.

I am so tired of Republicans, clearly engaged in a strategy of distancing themselves from any meaningful bi-partisan efforts to address our country's problems in its time of crisis, posing as reasonable, sensible alternatives to Democrats, primarily by relying on half-truths and red herrings. So what if money from the economic stimulus package is going to be used to buy the government new vehicles? It seems to me that Detroit could use the business and the government will not have to spend as much on repairing aging vehicles. I even supported the plan to spend money to repair the National Mall. If you make an investment to beautify an attraction, you encourage more tourism and the dollars it brings. Ask the folks in Time Square in New York.

Listening to Governor Jindal tonight, you would think that we are on the verge of an unplanned wild spending spree with no accountability and no concern for the burden taxpayers face as they foot the bill. Republicans must be worried that Halliburton is in charge of the stimulus package. If only they had expressed an iota of concern about spending taxpayer dollars when they held the purse strings.

What really got me going tonight was the governor's criticism of the health care reform contemplated by the Obama Administration. I think he said, "Republicans believe that health care decisions should be made between a patient and their doctor, not by some government bureaucrat." It took a split second before I had my "wait a minute" moment. Does that mean, I asked myself, that Governor Jindal and the Republican Party have become supporters of the pro-choice movement? His concern, which, in his context, was mere pandering to deeply rooted anxiety over the well-being of ourselves and our families, is exactly the same concern reproductive rights activists have been expressing about keeping the government out of the doctors' offices. The hypocrisy is absolutely galling.

We need to continue to hold Republicans accountable for their failed policies and not allow soothing rhetoric to substitute for difficult policy implementation. It is heartening, as noted by White House Chief of Staff Raum Emanuel after Governor Jindal's response, that a significant number of Republican governors and local officials have endorsed the strategy contemplated by the economic stimulus plan. Removed from Washington, and experiencing the very real problems facing us all in this economy, these public servants recognize that partisan politics have to give way to a unified effort to address our challenges. Similarly, the bi-partisan consensus of economists that a massive program of government spending is necessary to take us out of our downward spiral provides substantive reassurance rather than hollow fear-mongering.

I am looking forward to listening to President Obama's speech. He still brings tears to my eyes, so I'll do so with a box of tissues by my side. From a personal point of view, my uneasiness over the uncertainty of what lies ahead is mitigated by having someone I trust at the helm of the Ship of State. I refuse to allow the mutineers ganging up to challenge President Obama's judgment and leadership rule the day. Please join me in that focus.


Supe said...

With no cable TV I also YouTubed the speech(going out of my way to watch something on C-SPAN still amuses me).

I think that most governors are big proponents of his plan mainly because they don't have the ability to run deficits like the federal government. Some states have laws prohibiting it. If they need to choose between raising their taxes, cutting their programs or saying "Go Obama" to take the federal handout they'll take the easy route.

I also think that it is at least legitimate for the Republicans to be unhappy with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. It had a very liberal agenda to it. It's chock full of stuff that doesn't help jump start the economy quickly or efficiently but is there because the Democrats who helped make it knew they could force it through.

The Republicans were stuck though. With no alternative plan of their own and with nothing near the power required to make it happen if they did, they have to make a stand against it. If the 30% happens instead of the 70, it sets them up for their attempt at fixing it in 2010 or 2012.

Of the speech itself, there are definitely a few points I liked quite a bit that weren't strictly economy. He statement that we would have health care reform within a year was almost unreasonably optimistic but at least it should start it moving. I liked his challenge on education. You're not just quitting yourself when you drop out. Further your education with whatever classes you can take. That kind of stuff needs to happen. On the other hand I think the most effective change for children's education will come from parental involvement. There needs to be more programs to help and more social expectations for parents with kids in school. Lastly I like his take on the budget. Agribusiness subsidies should be toned down. Military budgets should be changed(F-22s for example). I never understood how something as expensive as war was left out of the budget, though a large chunk of his $2 trillion dollar change over 10 years does come from not being in Iraq.

Lastly, was it the resolution on YouTube or is the president using Just For Men? There seems to be less gray than before...

Anonymous said...

I, for one, was flabbergasted at the ineptitude of the Republican "response". If Bobby Jindal is the best the party has to offer, they're in deeper trouble than I had suspected.
His delivery was designed for 3-year-olds and the content seemed equally insipid. Compare that to Obama's speeches, which are unflinchingly honest, mature and directed at a citizenry he clearly views as partners, not subjects.
If the economic recovery plan is even half as effective as his oratory, we're in great shape.

Anonymous said...

It has now been proven to me that the Republican Party has not had a single original thought since Honest Abe penned the Emancipation Proclamation... and most present-day Conservative Republicans would not support that idea either.

If it were up to the Republican Party we certainly would not be living in a left-wing Socialist State... we would be living in a right-wing Oligarchy run by neo-fascists.

The Conservative Republicans and their far-sighted leadership had at least eight years to get it right and all they did was put us all back in a depression. Now, all they can do is critisize EVERYTHING that President Obama proposes and offer no positive alternatives.

When RUSH came out this week and said that Republicans should pray for Obama to FAIL, I couldn't help thinking how truly UNAMERICAN the Conservative Republicans have become. They'd be perfectly happy to flush our economy and our future down their toilet just to prove how trully RIGHT they are. How very sad Abraham Lincoln would be to see how far his Grand Old Party has fallen.