We're lucky the Democrats have large majorities in Congress because every Republican member of the House of Representatives voted against the $825 billion stimulus bill today. The vote was 244 to 188, with 11 like-minded Democrats joining in the betrayal. Even a face-to-face meeting with the President on Capitol Hill failed to sway any of them. The Republicans voted against their country today. Their fellow citizens needed them to act on their behalf and instead they chose to abandon them. Theirs is an ersatz patriotism.
The American Society of Civil Engineers released a report today documenting the nation's crumbling infrastructure. The GOP agenda of starving the public sector while spending lavishly on war and corporate welfare has allowed the nation's bridges, roads, and levees to reach this sorry state.
Texas Republican Representative Michael Burgess denounced the stimulus bill: "It's raining money," he said. But I don't think we really need to hear anymore from Texas Republicans after what Tom DeLay, Karl Rove, Phil Gramm, Dick Armey, and George W. Bush have done to the country.
These Retro-Hooverites want to block President Barack Obama from undoing part of the damage thirty years of failed Republican economic policies has produced. If Republican economics worked we wouldn't be in this predicament. And we wouldn't be debating the merits of a gigantic stimulus bill. Where's Arthur Laffer? Or Alan Greenspan? Doesn't anyone remember that Ronald Reagan's Office of Management and Budget director, David Stockman, already blew the whistle on the supply-side scam back in the early 1980s?
Here's a little of what the report from the American Society of Civil Engineers had to say: "Crumbling infrastructure has a direct impact on our personal and economic health, and the nation's infrastructure crisis is endangering our future prosperity. Our leaders are looking for solutions to the nation's current economic crisis. Not only could investment in these critical foundations have a positive impact, but if done responsibly, it would also provide tangible benefits to the American people, such as reduced traffic congestion, improved air quality, clean and abundant water supplies and protection against natural hazards."
The Republicans claim to represent the Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the National Retail Federation (all opposed the bill). But their actions today in the House will do nothing but help to undermine commerce, cripple manufacturing, and tank retail.
Opinion polls and election results show the GOP is on the wrong side on the issues of health care, green jobs, infrastructure, education, and poverty relief. I guess everyone who lives in a Republican district in this country is doing just fine economically, right? I guess those eleven Democrats who joined the Republicans also come from districts that are just booming right along.
It's all peace and prosperity in Republican Land.
President Obama won North Carolina, Virginia, Indiana, New Mexico, Ohio, and Florida. I hope he visits some of those Republican (and Democratic) districts whose representatives voted against the stimulus bill today in those states during the heat of the 2010 midterm campaigns.
There is real suffering out there and the federal government is the only institution in the country that can do anything about it. It's possible that the Republicans just voted themselves out of power for a very long time.
by Joseph Palermo
Joseph Palermo is Associate Professor of American History at CSU, Sacramento. He's the author of two books on Robert F. Kennedy: In His Own Right (2001) and RFK (2008).
Reprinted with permission from the author.