Yesterday's post laid out a suspicion started by a "voice" - what I call those little occurrences, events, or worries that one often ignores ... to one's peril. An article in Today's WSJ articulated an aspect of that in more depth.
"John McCain Was Right."
That's one headline we ought to see when President Barack Obama puts his name to the stimulus bill in Denver later today. But we won't. And the reason points to a glaring double standard on bipartisanship.
When Mr. McCain accepted the Republican nomination for president, he noted that while he and his opponent both spoke about moving beyond partisan divisions, only one of them had a history of working with members of both parties to get things done. "I have that record and the scars to prove it," he said. "Senator Obama does not."
Only a month ago, with Mr. Obama holding a dinner in Mr. McCain's honor, it wasn't hard to imagine the two coming together on the big challenges facing our nation. But now Mr. McCain has come out strongly against the stimulus in a spirited dissent suggesting that the whole process was a "bad beginning" for someone who promised a new spirit of bipartisanship. That ought to give White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel pause, if only because it wasn't all that long ago that Barack Obama was speaking the same way.
In a passage from his 2006 book, "The Audacity of Hope," he sounds like a Republican complaining about the stimulus. "Genuine bipartisanship," he wrote, "assumes an honest process of give-and-take, and that the quality of the compromise is measured by how well it serves some agreed-upon goal, whether better schools or lower deficits. This in turn assumes that the majority will be constrained -- by an exacting press corps and ultimately an informed electorate -- to negotiate in good faith.
"If these conditions do not hold -- if nobody outside Washington is really paying attention to the substance of the bill, if the true costs . . . are buried in phony accounting and understated by a trillion dollars or so -- the majority party can begin every negotiation by asking for 100% of what it wants, go on to concede 10%, and then accuse any member of the minority party who fails to support this 'compromise' of being 'obstructionist.'
"For the minority party in such circumstances, 'bipartisanship' comes to mean getting chronically steamrolled, although individual senators may enjoy certain political rewards by consistently going along with the majority and hence gaining a reputation for being 'moderate' or 'centrist.'"
As a rule, complaints about the "lack of bipartisanship" generally represent the whine of the losing side. With regard to Mr. Obama's handling of the stimulus, however -- his first big test as president -- they have a more interesting subtext. For one thing, his promises of a postpartisan future in some ways became the substance of a campaign built on lofty but largely undefined invocations of "hope" and "change."
Michigan Rep. Thaddeus McCotter suggests, for example, infrastructure as one area popular with some of his fellow Republicans. Had Democrats added, say, a few more infrastructure projects, perhaps a half-dozen Republicans in the Senate and as many as 30 or 40 in the House might have signed on. But the White House went the other way.
"President Obama has never been able to say 'No' to the left of his party," he says. "So instead of having Rahm Emanuel keeping Congressional Democrats in line, they left this bill to the most partisan members of Congress, starting with Nancy Pelosi."
John McCain was very gracious on election day eve, promising to support Obama's leadership for the good of that Nation. That he now leads opposition is troubling.
As is the unwillingness of Obama to insist on a lot more true infrastructure spending in the stimulus bill.
The stimulus does still represent Federal demand for goods and services, partly as funding for the states that otherwise would be forced to cut spending. So it's a net positive for the economy to replace some consumer demand with Federal demand.
By the way, follow this logic: the economy is hurting because consumers cut spending because they are cutting back debt. So the Federal government issues debt to fund replacement spending. That's the simple economic logic. The potential problem is that the Federal spending might be for items/services that no one truly wants, while consumer spending is for items/services the consumer does want. That is a dislocation that might cause trouble in the future.
Poor beginning, in part to catch up to Europe's falloff yesterday. The Chinese stimulus does seems to have some traction.
This talk about a "Buy America" part of the stimulus bill being protectionist is idiotic. It's US taxpayer money purportedly being spent to stimulate the US. So obviously it has to be spent here. The secondary effects go worldwide, though.
Word of the Day
"Objurgation" - noun [$10] from "Objurgate" - verb, transitive [$10] literary
Objurgate means to chide or scold.
Sentence: So far, Bunkerman's objurgations of Obama are limited to pointing out errors and worries. Events will determine whether those objurgations grow into full opposition.
Le Mot du Jour
"Décevoir" - verb, transitive; irregular - conjugated like recevoir and devoir
Décevoir means to disappoint.
La Phrase: L'administration Obama déçoit l'homme du bunker jusqu'a present.
Sentence: The Obama adminstration is disappointing Bunkerman so far.