Inertia at Rest

Kim often watches Fox News so I don’t have to. She reported that immediately following the defeat of Martha Coakley in Massachusetts on Tuesday, Fox was crowing that President Obama will never pass another major piece of legislation. They are likely correct.

The GOP has made no bones about their agenda being to stop Obama. Their party chairman’s new book is titled, “Right Now: A 12-Step Program for Defeating the Obama Agenda.” The Tea Party movement is not dedicated to doing anything, rather their platform is almost wholly to stop Obama. There is I suppose a refreshing honesty to their forthright plan. But sadly, this plan of opposition is resonating with a significant group of people. People who are royally and understandably pissed about where we are, but lack the foresight to see that stopping all movement isn’t really a plan for getting out.

However, while I’m sure the GOP will spin this as a major referendum on Obama. It seems this is mostly a condemnation of Coakley and the horrible campaign she ran. In many ways, not so different than the New York 23rd District’s special election when Bill Owens became the first Democrat in 100 years to go to Congress from there.

Under the circumstances, the way the Bay State’s Senate race was run, I don’t entirely blame the voters for electing Brown over Coakley. At the state level, it wasn’t an unreasonable choice given the way the Democratic party had treated the electorate there. The problem is, this race had national implications.

There may still be some long-shot options for salvaging the healthcare bill, but pretty much everything in the future is done. No economic reform, meaning the banks will take us right back to 2008 all over again. No green initiatives, meaning global warming will go unchecked and we will still remain dependent on foreign oil. No new stimulus activities, meaning unemployment may hang at 10% for several years.

The true crime here is that based on the current senate rules requiring a super-majority to do most anything, the success of the GOP at achieving party unity with their Senators, and the inability of Democrats to sing in harmony amongst themselves, a small group of voters in Massachusetts just brought the entire country to a standstill.

Congress is now inert. I hope you like the view from where you are. You’ll be there awhile.

One thought on “Inertia at Rest

  1. Since stimulus spending is guided by current politicians, and not by investors who have a stake in the future finances of the government, government spending is almost never directed towards economy growing capital investments, but rather to short term consumption designed to benefit political leaders in near-term elections. When money is directed at capital projects, they’re very often in the nature of “make work” projects that are not economically worthwhile, but just provide the salve of some near-term employment, which basically means they’re an inefficient means to pay the equivalent of welfare and unemployment benefits. This stimulus is a case in point. Most of it has been shoveled to states to help them maintain welfare, healthcare, other unemployment benefits and meet government agency payrolls. Some of it was directed to “shovel ready” projects, which means projects the states and the federal government could identify and implement quickly but which were not sufficiently worthwhile to do before they were directed to find make work projects to help keep people (mainly unionized construction and contractor labor) employed. None of this spending is an “investment,” but just supports short-term consumption — the people (i.e.,. unemployed, government workers, union contractors and laborers) receiving that money will largely just turn around and spend it on consumer goods. That will provide an immediate boost to the extent that it’s taking money that would otherwise by stowed away in bank accounts and under mattresses and pushed back into the economy, but long term there will be no economic return on that money to justify the debt incurred. It’s the equivalent of a family running up the credit card to keep itself in house and home after the breadwinner loses his or her job.

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