Bees, Republicans and Unprincipled Obstructionism

Republican spite

Republican buzz on stimulus plan has no sting

Is it possible to slip pork into a bill this massive? Well, duh. But pork is often in the eye of the beholder. House Republicans this week released a list of $19 billion in provisions they called “wasteful” (i.e., 2% of the total package). But the list includes numerous projects that many Americans would support and that would plainly stimulate our limping construction and manufacturing sectors. For example, the purchase of new computers and vehicles for federal agencies, the building of fire stations and other public facilities, and the upgrade of rail lines.

Is this the best the GOP can come up with? Or are Republicans just determined to undermine the recovery effort? It’s hard to disagree with Obama’s complaint that “modest differences” over the package are being inflated to stall the whole program.

That brings us to McConnell and his problem with “honeybee insurance.” It turns out that the Senate minority leader took his cue from Neil Cavuto of Fox News, who has been carrying on about the topic for more than a week. Their campaign was joined Tuesday by Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), who stood on the floor of the chamber challenging “any member to come and explain what that provision was.”

I’m no senator, but I’m pleased to inform Vitter that it is, in fact, a disaster insurance program for all livestock producers. Beekeepers obviously would be minor beneficiaries next to, say, cattle ranchers, so it’s a tad bit dishonest to label the whole program “honeybee insurance.”

The provision simply continues a program enacted by Congress last year, overriding a veto by President Bush. In other words, the Senate voted on it twice in 2008 — once to enact and once to override. Connoisseurs of political comedy will see the punch line coming: McConnell and Vitter voted yea both times.

So it turns out that McConnell isn’t really against honeybees. He’s only using them to pretend that he’s got a principled objection to a stimulus plan aimed at pulling the country out of the most severe recession in decades.

The honeybees, and the rest of us, are merely collateral damage.

If you’re a Republican and you can’t find a principled objection to the stimulus plan, you do what republicans have been doing for decades. You create a few misleading talking points – in the case of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell(R-KY), Fox’s so-called financial expert Neil Cavuto and  Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), outright lies, then repeat them endlessly. They can’t risk the honest confession that when Bush was King, deficits didn’t matter and while the pork was neck deep America’s infrastructure mattered much less then the infrastructure of Iraq. The media isn’t doing their job of calling Republican doublespeakers. Its the same old lazy journalism we’ve had for years. Ask a Republican a question, nod, say thanks and move on to that report about some new fashion trend. Publius wonders why Republicans are objecting to parts of the stimulus plan with the clear implication that Republicans don’t have clue what to do about the economy, but they’re sure they know they don’t want Democrats to get credit for fixing the problems that reliable Bush hand maidens like McConnell and DeMint created,  State Aid Is Stimulus . . . Don’t Cut It

For instance, consider the state stabilization fund.  Details are still sketchy, but it seems like the Senate’s bold centrist compromise took a big axe to this program.  However, this program – derided as a “slush” fund – provides many critical stimulus benefits.  Let me say that again – the state stabilization fund will help stimulate the economy immediately by keeping people in jobs.

But don’t take my word for it.  Go check out the CBPP, which has an extensive discussion of the benefits state aid would provide.  The nickel version is that states are running deficits, and will therefore be forced to make hard painful cuts (this is one reason why governments shouldn’t be mandated to balance budgets).  Anyway, here’s the CBPP explaining the pain to come:
When states cut spending, they lay off employees, cancel contracts with vendors, reduce payments to businesses and nonprofits that provide services, and cut benefit payments to individuals.  All of these steps remove demand from the economy and compound the economic slowdown, counteracting the effects of the recovery bill.

There is still a chance that Speaker Pelosi will get the state aid provisions back in. It doesn’t make sense, its actually clearly contradictory for Conservatives to beef about aid to states that keeps and provides jobs and essential services, yet not make  federal spending on bridges to create jobs a sticking point. It doesn’t take a detective to sort out a clear trend. Republicans just want failure for the new president and the new Congress. Greg Sargent has a current list of cuts Republicans ( Ben Nelson is only technically a Democrat) want,

Head Start, Education for the Disadvantaged, School improvement, Child Nutrition, Firefighters, Transportation Security Administration, Coast Guard, Prisons, COPS Hiring, Violence Against Women, NASA, NSF, Western Area Power Administration, CDC, Food Stamps

Besides the essential services these entities provide they also provide paychecks to employees that buy food, cars, electronics and houses. How is that not a stimulus. Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research,

This piece should have been ridicule. Spending that is not stimulus is like cash that is not money. Spending is stimulus, spending is stimulus. Any spending will generate jobs. It is that simple. There is a question of whether the spending will go to areas that will provide benefits, long-term or short-term, to the economy, but there is no question that money that is spent will create jobs and therefore is stimulus.

Voters just decided that John McCain(R-AZ) wasn’t up to managing the economy – it was a wise decision a few months ago and remains so, McCain blasts Obama

“The whole point, Mr. President, is to enact tax cuts and spending measures that truly stimulate the economy,” McCain said. “There are billions and tens of billions of dollars in this bill which will have no effect within three, four, five or more years, or ever. Or ever.”

McCain’s entire Senate career has been the epitome of non-achievement. A man destined for history’s bin of irrelevancy. Kind of ironic that Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s and a former advisor to McCain disagrees with McCain’s buffoon economics,

Q: OK, so how would the stimulus proposal save jobs?

A: By spending roughly $90 billion building and repairing highways, bridges, mass transit systems and other infrastructure projects, for starters.

That would create about 670,000 new construction jobs by the end of 2010, according to Zandi.

But other types of companies would also gain thousands of jobs, according to a study funded by the Alliance for American Manufacturing, including steel makers; concrete and cement companies; and glass, rubber and plastics manufacturers.

Q: Sounds good, but what if I don’t work in construction or manufacturing?

A: Obama and congressional Democrats are also planning to spend billions of dollars upgrading the nation’s electrical grid. And they plan to expand broadband Internet access and put medical records online.

Those efforts would create jobs for software programmers, computer equipment makers, telecommunications technicians, engineers and other information technology professionals, says Robert Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a think tank.

Atkinson said that expanding broadband Internet access to rural areas — a $6 billion project in the stimulus plan — would spur additional economic activity, as consumers buy new computers, audio speakers, Webcams and other equipment to take advantage of the fast connections.

Q: Are there other areas where jobs would be created?

A: The stimulus would provide approximately $200 billion to state and local governments to pay for health, education and public safety programs. A House committee says that would save jobs for teachers, firefighters and police officers.

Thousands of jobs also could be created indirectly, as people spend money from the stimulus at stores, restaurants, and even on vacation at hotels.

Q: What if I still can’t find a job after the plan goes into effect?

A: Obama’s stimulus proposal would continue an emergency extension of unemployment benefits until the end of 2009. The program, which provides up to 33 weeks of additional payments, is set to expire in March.

McCain once admitted that he wasn’y very knowledgable about econmics. Apparently he has no plans to remedy that problem. More here on  the effects of the economic recovery plan.