On Fox News Sunday, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) said to host Chris Wallace that the spending bill on the Senate floor - all 778 pages of it - is "not an economic document - it is a political document drawn up by Nancy Pelosi in the House." As time passes and the American public begins to understand how poor a piece of legislation this spending bill is now, public approval has plummeted. The Senate Majority Leader understands this and the pressure to deliver a vote for President Obama.
Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) as Finance Committee Chairman is shepherding the bill through the Senate voting process. Senator John McCain is leading the loyal opposition.
In the course of only a little more than two weeks in office, the promises of a new bipartisan, post partisan era are gone. President Obama has failed to lead and allowed Speaker Pelosi to write the spending bill filled with every socialist spending program imaginable and then some. Newsweek magazine crowed that we are all now socialists. Remember when conservatives and Republicans were shouting warnings of impending socialism if Barack Obama became President? Those smitten with Obama, including the media, belittled such charges.
John Kerry, performing on the Senate floor Friday afternoon by impersonating an impassioned politician, said of the tax cuts requested by Republicans, "If you put a tax cut into the hands of a business or family, there's no guarantee that they're going to invest that or invest it in America. They're free to go invest anywhere that they want if they choose to invest." C'mon American taxpayer, what do you want? Freedom? Tsk-tsk.
President Obama made some rookie mistakes, as expected of a man with so little political experience at the national level, and the worst was going to Virginia to the posh Democrat Congressional retreat and pumping up the crowd with a campaign style stem winder of a speech. He said, yes, the stimulus bill is a spending bill, because that's how the economy recovers. By spending government money furnished by the taxpayer. Other people's money. He called the past economic policies "tired ideology" and thus ended any hopes of outreach to Republicans. Maybe he missed the 52 consecutive months of employment growth that the Bush tax cuts provided, even after the devastation of 9/11/01. Maybe he missed the call for reform the Bush administration gave three years ago and warned about the coming implosion of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Maybe he missed the calls for reform of Social Security and energy policy that President Bush tried to accomplish for eight years.
Senator John Kerry, in performance mode, referred to President Bush as "their President" while pointing a long, bony finger at the Republicans on the floor of the Senate. How patriotic.
The urgency of this spending bill is the need to push it through before all of the spending and programs are exposed. Yes, stimulus is needed. Republicans want to help with the economic recovery of this country. Somehow, with Democrats braying about economic doom and gloom for the past eight years, despite other indicators, and gleefully reporting during the campaign of the recession as it developed, it is a bit difficult to consider them the saviors of our prosperity.
Today the President has taken his plea on the road. He is in Elkhart, Indiana - home of RV sales and production and increased unemployment and then he will go on to Fort Meyers, Florida. This is a failure of leadership. He is President of the United States now, not a candidate on the campaign trail. He should be working on The Hill with both parties and leaders to hammer out a bill. And, by using Rep. Jim Cooper of Tennessee as a useful idiot earlier last week, showed a failure of leadership. Cooper tried to put out the story line that he was encouraged to oppose the House bill by the White House. This only came out after the vote was taken.
I am pleased that Senator Dick Lugar (R-IN) turned down the invitation for a free ride on Air Force One to Indiana today. Let Senator Bayh be President Obama's guy.
Peggy Noonan, in her column for The Wall Street Journal last week, wrote of "bracing ourselves" in today's America. She wrote that Speaker Pelosi is "not big enough for the age." "She's not up to it." Of President Obama she wrote,"His serious and consequential policy mistake is that he put his prestige behind not a new way of breaking through but an old way of staying put. This marked a dreadful misreading of the moment. And now he's digging in. His political mistake, which in retrospect we will see as huge, is that he re moralized the Republicans. He let them back in the game."
Republicans are invigorated. Republicans in Washington have found their voice, long lost during the previous administration. Maybe it is the freedom of being in the minority. There is freedom to speak in opposition to a spending bill that no one truly believes will work. The Obama administration has to do something and this is what has been agreed to. The claims of creating and 'saving' jobs show the unserious efforts masquerading as serious. Creating new government jobs and one time construction jobs is not a successful path to take. All of our friends and neighbors losing jobs are not in the construction business or manual laborers. This spending bill doesn't' include the tax breaks for small business or larger business tax credits necessary to create real job growth.
Republicans are not just the party of 'no'. A reasonable alternative was offered to the spending bill. That is the exact strategy the Republicans must soldier on with in Congress. Say no when necessary and offer an alternative. That is the two party system at its best.
You know what might help some of the national distress out there? Less doom and gloom. More realism. Let the Democrats rail against the spending of the past administration. Fair enough. Let the differences of the two parties shine.