Eric Shmidt was doing this sort of interview-debate the other day along with the governor of Minnesota. He was talking about the bailout/stimulus package - what else? - and he made an incredibly insightful comment. He said something along the lines of "Washington is sometimes pretty politicized."
Bipartisanship is all the rage these days. We need to come together to find solutions to our nation's crisis, and to do this we need to rise above the partisan divisions which created the failed policies of the past eight years. Each side should forget their ideological predilections in order to work together in a spirit of bipartisan statesmanship. Right.
Guess what people...the democrats won the election. Some say "by a narrow margin." Bullshit. Obama's lead over McCain seriously trumps Bush's margin of victory, which by the way was a negative number in the 2000 election. By the standards of recent electoral politics in America, this was a powerful mandate for the Democratic party's goals.
Republicans in (and out of) Congress have been bitching and moaning about how the Dems have been totally ignoring their advice and riding roughshod over their party. They are using the crisis to advance a dangerously socialistic Big Government Agenda which will never get rolled back and will be the launching pad for some kind of quasi-leftist regime- which will start by socializing healthcare and raising taxes, and end by handing America over to The Terrorists.
As Tim Pawlenty was railing against the size of the stimulus bill, he mentioned the fact that only $100 million was being devoted to infrastructure spending. The figure was $100 billion. I half expected the guy to start ranting about how many millions of silver dollars we were going to lose to reckless spending. The truth is, these people are stuck somewhere around the late nineteenth century. Money tends to be more fluid these days, especially after the Republicans squandered hundreds of billions on a useless war and then some more on tax cuts for our upper-income brackets. The truth is, when it comes to fiscal rectitude these people should shut their mouths.
And guess what? Those Democratic members of Congress who are supposedly ignoring the budgetary wishes of the American people? They were elected! That is how representative democracy works. When one party fucks up, they lose their influence and have to stay out in the cold for a while. This is perfectly fair and happened to the Dems for six years, because earlier on in the decade they ran some pretty weak candidates and thus failed the American people as an opposition. This is not some game where everyone is a winner and nobody's feelings get hurt. Politics is played for keeps. Given the mutilation of our system of checks and balances by the Bush administration, these people should know this by now.
Let's stop the self-congratulatory bullshit about the bipartisanship and compromises and get on to do what needs to be done. Seriously, we cannot allow a "crisis" or "recession" or "credit crunch" or whatever you want to call it prevent us from rationalizing our economy and society. Government does have a big role to play and both sides know that. The only difference is what its priorities are: supporting the oil industry and the investor class or guaranteeing a decent standard of living for our most productive citizens- who are not, by the way, the captains of industry or the dukes of Wall Street.
Statistically, the rapid productivity gains of our past decade have come from the rank and file, not the prodigal entrepreneurs, of the modern corporation. If anything, the growth in the management bureacucracy has sapped its strength and slowed it down.
To that end, we ought to get to work on tax reform: we need a simple, progressive tax policy that redistributes wealth from the greedheads to those people on whose shoulders our entire way of life stands. We also clearly need to reform our healthcare system since we spend the most and get the least out of this sector compared to any other country. A totally public-sector solution would be best (yes, this means socialized medicine) but failing that pretty much any other arrangement would be an improvement. Also we need to significantly reduce our carbon emissions starting NOW, and this would entail pretty drastic action from our government. But to do any of this, we will need to get over the idea of bipartisanship and ignore the whinings of an irrelevant, anachoronistic party.