Monday, January 26, 2009

Stimulate This (UPDATE)

There has been much wringing of hands and pursing of lips over the politics surrounding the stimulus proposal. Left-wingers are upset over the removal of a whole lot of transportation infrastructure spending because of Republican demands for tax cuts, while right-wingers make up stuff about birth control and lie about non-existent CBO reports.

The simple fact is this. There will be a stimulus bill passed. It will not have everything everyone wants, and contain quite a few things that, in a sane world, would never see the light of day. My guess it will be the first step in a larger recovery program Pres. Obama will enact; Health Care Reform will certainly have a stimulative effect, and my guess is there will be attempts to revive certain alphabet soup programs as a way to direct federal funds more directly and precisely (that would be my hope anyway). Reigning in certain aspects of our cowboy financial system will also have a stimulative effect, as will, in all likelihood, simply writing off billions of dollars of bad debt that has no hope of recovery. This would have the benefit of allowing everyone - debtors and creditors alike - to start with a clean slate.

We are getting an object lesson in a difference in styles as we watch the stimulus debate unfold. On the one hand is the calm, confident, knowledgeable approach of Obama; on the other hand is the chorus of screeching, lying, and simple-mindedness the Republicans are engaging in. While the outcome of this particular object lesson is certainly not locked down, my guess is that, in the end, not only the President, but Democrats in Congress as well, may just end up with an even stronger hand as a result of all this.

UPDATE: From Politico's pages to our bleeding eyes:
It may seem like a nothing, but Nancy Pelosi is facing one of her biggest political threats of the 111th thus far over this birth-control-in-the-stimulus thing.

Drudge, along with CNN and others, are trumpeting a House GOP talking point -- ridiculing Pelosi's support of a Medicaid waiver in the stimulus package to reimburse states for contraceptives. And they they think they have a winner, a classic gays-in-the-military, Honeymoon-killing wedge issue.

It all started with a borderline blue comment by John Boehner last week linking "contraceptives" to "stimulus." It's a position that is popular with the Democratic base -- and could arguably save the government money in the long run by preventing unwanted pregnancies and even abortions.

But it's seriously dangerous to Democrats on a few levels:

First, it reinforces the notion that Dems are ramming all sorts of parochial goodies (remember Mayor Goodman's mob museum?) into the stimulus.

Second, it helps fuse the GOP's fractured base -- uniting evangelicals and budget hawks.

Third -- and most dangerous to Pelosi personally -- it undercuts her carefully crafted image as a measured centrist, playing into the right wing caricature of Pelosi as a Bay Area liberal who will abuse her power to push her far left agenda.

On Sunday, Pelosi said she had "no apologies" for supporting the waiver.

OK. But how will she counterattack?

Reducing health care costs, unwanted pregnancies, supporting responsible life choices is, apparently, the same thing as ramming through a bill to save the life of Terri Schiavo. Except, of course, in this case, we have a Speaker of the House doing something most Americans support, and will have direct benefits; the latter was the divisive act of a radical fringe of the Republican Party that most Americans were horrified by, and who derived absolutely no benefit from such an act.

Virtual Tin Cup

Amazon Honor System Click Here to Pay Learn More