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After watching the Republican responses to the passing and signing of the Presidents stimulus package it is becoming abundantly clear what their strategy will be for the next few years. They will stage these phony displays of public outrage and then at the same time take credit for any benefits from the stimulus package. First let’s be clear about whether this bill was bi-partisan. In order to do this you have to separate the Republican Party from the Washington Republicans many of whom represent solid Republican base districts that were gerrymandered by Tom Delay and his cohorts from the Republicans who represent statewide constituencies like governors.
Most Republican governors who are not seeking future national office are in strong favor of the stimulus bill. So far the ones who have spoken out against it are Texas Governor Rick Perry, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford and Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. It will be interesting to see how many of these governors will be lining up for a 2012 presidential bid.
Many Republicans are strategically placing themselves to have the best of both worlds. If the Obama economic plans do not work they will say we told you so, if they do work they will say it was our opposition and not the economic plans of the President that turned the economy around. The Republicans are gambling that they will be able to steal the credit for the economic turnaround hoping that by the time the economy does turn around the voters will have forgotten their opposition to all of the President’s economic policies.
This strategy really exposes the Republicans deep-seated hostility towards the American electorate. They are willing to be seen as rooting for the economy to crash and taking concrete steps to bring it about while at the same time believing that the American public won’t remember their opposition to the economic policies that succeeded. Basically they are saying the American public is so stupid that they can be easily duped by sound bites and imagery. Granted there was a day in American politics when these strategies were successful, however what the Republicans and many Washington pundits have failed to realize is that a new bell has rung and once rung it cannot be un-rung.
American voters are becoming even more engaged not less engaged in the political process. There are more outlets for information than there ever has been so the nightly sound bite and sweeping political imagery has lost its effectiveness. The Republicans may think this is 1984, but they are going to be in for a rude awakening. The American public is not looking for a return to past failed policies and phony cultural wars. The Republicans are pinning their hopes in 2010 on the fact that the economic crisis they helped to engineer is so deep that there will be little change by election time and they can tout the President’s economic policies as failures. They are already laying the groundwork for this strategy by claiming that the economic policies of FDR were ineffectual during the Great Depression because there wasn’t instant success.
What they fail to mention and what many Americans who survived during that period often state is that while those FDR policies did not completely turn the economy around they did help to stem the hardships of the depression and gave the public hope and confidence that their government was trying to help them. Imagine how much worst the situation would have been if the Republicans had been successful in curtailing the programs of the New Deal.
In similar fashion the Republicans of today are trying to reduce the size and scope of the President’s economic policies so they can claim that they were right. These so called “principled” men who took a budget surplus and created the largest deficits in history are now claiming to be budget and deficit hawks. During the debate concerning the President’s stimulus package many Republicans stated that their opposition to the bill was that it did not address the underlying problem of our economic problems, which according to them was the housing market. So one would think that when the President announced his plan to help shore up the housing market and try to keep families in their homes that the Republicans would be ready to support it; right? Wrong. Almost to a man as with the Stimulus Bill the Republicans are lining up to denounce the plan. The Republicans are not only the “Party of no” they are also the Party of no ideas.
The economy at some point will rebound we all know this. Our economy is now and always has been cyclical. The question then becomes is the government responsible for setting in place safety nets to help reduce the suffering of its citizenry while at the same time instituting policies that will reduce the likelihood of similar catastrophes or is it the governments job to sit and watch as its citizenry suffers the hardships and horrors of a system many have no direct control over and receive only minimal benefit from?
The Republicans are betting that by the time the economy turns around that they can tell Americans that the Republican’s magic economic fairy was responsible and not the policies of this administration, that it was their opposition that made the recovery possible. So either way they were right. When all you have to do is sit and watch you are afforded the luxury of saying I told you so, but when you are responsible for the welfare of a nation that luxury is no longer available. Only a child sits and waits to say I told you so while adults work to solve problems. Our country does not have the time for children’s games, we need adults.
Hypocrite: the man who murdered both his parents… pleaded for mercy on the grounds that he was an orphan. ~ Abraham Lincoln