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Posted by on Jan 29, 2009 in Economy, Politics | 82 comments

House Democrats Reveling in New Bully Role

Long time readers will know that it’s a rare day indeed when I find myself agreeing with Michelle Malkin. (I’m pausing to think if I’ve ever linked to her from TMV.) But following last night’s disastrous failure by the House of Representatives to achieve any sort of bipartisan consensus on a stimulus package, I think she is correct in saying that the House version of the bill has turned into a gigantic “crap sandwich” and the Democrats own it 100%.

Personally, I don’t even find it all that excessive to refer to the House version of the package as the “Generation Theft Act of 2009.”

There are two areas of collapse in the process we are witnessing.

One, of course, is the failure to develop a laser accurate spending package which focuses on the immediate task of stimulating the economy and creating jobs while limiting the burden of increased debt. The package is festooned with a metric ton of spending which even the most generous supporter could not say (at least with a straight face) is designed to stimulate economic growth.

But the other, and perhaps more significant failure, was a complete breakdown in President Obama’s efforts to find common ground between House Democrats and Republicans and get the job done in a “post-partisan” fashion.

One of the nice things about working with a stable of fine writers such as we have here at TMV is that a variety of opinions can be aired and we can often disagree without being disagreeable. With that in mind, I will include some comments from my colleague Michael Stickings, who examined this issue already. Michael titled his piece, Republicans Vote Against the American People.

So much for bipartisan outreach. So much for Obama’s efforts to be inclusive and to seek compromise with the other side. All the Republicans could offer was the same old tired formula of tax cuts, tax cuts, and more tax cuts, and, when it came right down to it, when it came time to pick a side, the Republicans sided, in unison, against the American people and the American economy.

If I am to accept the premise that the House GOP voted against the people of America today, then the Democrats voted against the next several generations of Americans to come. And as I watched this battle play out in the media, my observations didn’t match up with Michael’s at all.

Yes, the Republicans often focus far too much on tax cuts and miss seeing the forest for the trees. But for the stimulus package, the GOP found a number of items in the bill which they strongly supported. These were generally the massive investments in infrastructure for roads, bridges and the nation’s power grid. Some of them were even willing to go along with expanding unemployment insurance options during a time when so many Americans are losing their jobs.

Had the Democrats been willing to strip down the bill a bit and focus only on spending which would produce immediate, tangible results, I’m confident that this bill could have sailed through the House with wide, bipartisan support.

Instead, we witnessed a tour de’ force of the newly minted, Democratic superpower. One of the most telling features of the evening for me was watching the facial gestures and body language of Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Unlike many of her previous, stern appearances, the Speaker sat at her bench and smiled broadly, seeming to be on the verge of giggling a number of times, as the Republicans lined up to vote against the bill. At least for me, there was a very clear message being sent. And that message was, “we don’t need to work with you any more. I have the votes and I have the power. We’re not just going to appropriate money to address the economic crisis here. We’re going to fund a whole bunch of things we’ve been trying to get through for the last eight years. We know you don’t agree, but you’re going to sit there and take it. You did it to us when we were in the minority. Let’s see how you like it.

I also think the GOP opposition spoke directly to a point that Michael was trying to make earlier.

You know what? It’s not just about stimulating the economy, it’s about helping people. It’s responsive, responsible government action at a time when government action is desperately needed.

Sorry, Micheal, but I have to respectfully disagree on that one.

What happened to the need for “urgent, immediate action” to address the economic crisis? When did the stimulus bill turn into some sort of massive, omnibus appropriations juggernaut?

Helping people is wonderful and many of the Democrat’s proposals for social programs are worthy of consideration, but they don’t really speak to the stated purpose of this emergency action. Each of those other projects are worthy of and deserve vigorous debate on their own merits. What would be the harm in leaving them aside for a few weeks and then bringing them up in appropriations bills of their own?

No, what this smells of to me is a combined case of political cowardice and new majority bullying. By sneaking all of these other programs into the bill, the Democrats hope to buy themselves some future cover, saying, “We had to pass all of those things! The economy was crumbling and a stimulus package was required!

It was also, as I noted above, a chance for the long bullied Democrats to rub the Republicans’ collective noses in it. If you ask me, Speaker Pelosi didn’t want any Republicans to vote for the bill. She wanted to show them that there’s a new sheriff in town and to put them in their place.

Sadly, I think she did it at a tremendous cost to the nation.

Our debt is eventually going to come due, and the numbers are quickly growing beyond any imaginable way to pay them off.