Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Reaping the fruits of "reaching across the aisle"

"SO WHY does the stimulus legislation contain so many half-measures? After all, Obama's inauguration four weeks ago was celebrated by huge numbers of people, and his popularity remains high.

For one thing, the Republicans presented a virtually united front against the stimulus bill, and the mainstream media reported their every slander of the proposal without hesitation. "One might have expected Republicans to act at least slightly chastened in these early days of the Obama administration, given both their drubbing in the last two elections and the economic debacle of the past eight years," wrote columnist Paul Krugman.

But no. The GOP trotted out every tired complaint about "big government" and wasteful spending--this from a party that ran up a staggering government debt over eight years of George W. Bush, thanks to the astronomical sums wasted on the Pentagon war machine.

Still, the Republicans shouldn't have been able to gain the upper hand in this debate. They did because of the new Obama administration's insistence on cooperating with the GOP in the spirit of "bipartisanship."

For at least the first several weeks after Obama's inauguration, while the White House was talking about how much it valued their input, the Republicans were able to define the stimulus legislation on their terms. That meant depicting it as stuffed with "waste" and "political pork" to reward Democratic "interest groups"--rather than a collection of measures that could create jobs and bolster working people's living standards."

-From the ISO's excellent breakdown of the Obama Stimulus Plan.

The NYTimes has a nice breakdown here. And here.

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