The Lady of Maine strikes again and will the ides of February doom Obama’s presidency. The stimulus debacle revisited and why its now too late for the president to reverse course.
(Reposted from 2009 but still very appropriate).
Maine’s two right wing darlings. There’s an old saying in politics: Be careful what you vote for; you might get it.
Obama signed the stimulus in February of 2009 and may have ended his chances for a second term on that very day. The package was designed to fail from the very beginning and leading the pack that doomed the bill to failure was none other than Olympia Snowe.
The lady of Maine did a remarkable job stonewalling Finance Committee members during negotiations on a stimulus package. She balked and hesitated and balked some more until she was able to engineer a bill so diluted that it was destined to fail. She wielded her limited power so deftly that she became the central figure in helping to design a weakened stimulus package that Republicans knew beforehand would be inadequate and could not even begin to rouse a multi-trillion dollar economy out of its prolonged slumber.
If I were a Republican leader the task I would have assigned to Snowe was exactly the feat she performed: To make damn sure any stimulus bill that came out of committee would be so enfeebled that Republicans could proclaim it a bust before the funds were even exhausted. Then, if at all possible, massage the bill so any job creating potential would begin to peter out just before the elections. On condition that she deliver this half baked artifice out of committee, the leadership would grant the lady of Maine permission to vote for the bill – which was an absolute necessity anyway if the plot had any chance of success because the strategem needed at least some Republican support to become law.
Snowe was successful beyond her leadership’s wildest dreams. She and the Republicans not only outfoxed Obama and the mental pygmies who advise him. They crafted a bill that failed on cue.
Here is what Snowe crammed down the Democrats’ throats. The final bill allotted one third of the funds to tax cuts; another third to the states to apply to unemployment benefits and to stem the flow of public servant layoffs; and last but not least one third was assigned to job creation. The funds that remained after the worthless tax cuts and the aid to the states and that went into new job creation amounted to some 280 billion dollars – a grievously inadequate sum by all accounts.
So the stimulus that was designed to fail failed just as the Republicans anticipated it would and after which they loudly and proudly proclaimed its failure to a job hungry nation. The bill, as planned, became an election issue as it began to fizzle on cue a few weeks before the polling date.
Olympia Snowe from the bucolic state of Maine revealed herself to be crafty enough to outwit the city slickers from Chicago and a handful of Ivy League snoots to boot.
The economic Einsteins who advised the president were not only duped by the lady of Maine. The plan they thought they hatched fell apart at the seams before they even knew they had one. These giants of economic forecasting were full-of-themselves certain that the economy would cycle into recovery and the recession would end in two years like all recessions do; and that jobs would gush forth just in time for voters to go to the polls to elect Democrats; and that voters, now deliriously ecstatic, would do this by majorities so vast that these White House wizards were drooling to swallow anything Snowe shoved at them if only she would agree to something or anything so they could get a bill passed and then loll about for a couple of years waiting for the economy to blossom; and, as anybody with half a brain knows, the recession would end as recessions always do, like ya know, in just about two years. They could then proclaim their ingenious policy a grand success and wallow in the praise the pundits would heap upon them for wizardry unsurpassed in the annals of economic prognostication.
As we all now know and what the economic Einsteins, now in a self induced stupor, belatedly discovered, they were wrong.
The nation continues to suffer under depression like conditions as the economy worsens, business under-performs and Congress, as always, has its hands tied by Republican obstruction.
Through it all, the lady of Maine can smile unctuously. For her double-dealing did indeed engineer the perfect economic storm: an inadequate stimulus package designed to fail on cue right before the election.
And as for Obama, who couldn’t have selected a worse group of economic advisers, he is now left with the shambles he was duped into. Having agreed to a woefully inadequate stimulus package, he must now shoulder the blame for its failure and suffer the consequences as duplicitous Republicans proclaim the president’s entire economic agenda a total bust and accuse him of having failed America.
Because of his grievous miscalculation early in the administration Obama has lost all credibility on the jobs issue. His speech before a joint session, now with John Boehner’s permission, will be of no avail. The Republicans set the trap to years ago and the president remains firmly in its grasp.