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Isn’t hoping for stimulus success good for all?

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By Wendy Binnie

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. That definition, attributed to Albert Einstein, has been used a great deal lately. Did the Democrats win the battle and lose the war, or vice versa?

Here’s what we as a people know – the Democrats have a strong majority in the House and a reasonably filibuster-proof presence in the Senate. Yet it feels as if they won a Pyrrhic victory. Did they win the election and lose the war? Or have they made one small gain and lost an advantage?

The advantage they had was the ability to blame all and sundry, even sun-spots, on the previous administration. Granted, a great deal of the ills facing our country and now the world were brought about by reckless spending and an uncalled for war.

Whatever the answer, we have come face to face with the reality of how this country works and we don’t want to acknowledge it.

The stimulus package will go through, somewhat diminished of its original intent, to create jobs. Increasingly it looks as though it was fashioned to create tax breaks. Although it cost almost $800 billion, it contains 35 percent of tax breaks.

And the original total of the proposed bill has been cut by some $50 billion or more, depending on whose model you’re referring to. Those cuts came from what we thought should have been sacrosanct programs that would have created jobs.

The real problem is that President Obama is going to be judged by what happens as a result of this bill. Did he sell himself too cheap?

Bush’s tactics, in comparison, demanded that this, that and the other thing be included in the final bill. Obama let them beat it around and he didn’t stay firm on any one aspect of the bill.

Have we as a result just kicked the can down the road? It could come back ultimately and harm him, even limiting him to a one-term presidency. These are the facts any way you slice them. The Republicans seem amazingly unified against the stimulus package and talk about the fact that their ideas were barely included. (Did they have any?) This is smart. If nothing big happens because of it, they can come back to the voters and say, “I told you so.”

Their ideas tend to focus on tax cuts, it is the only idea with which they have ever come up and they refuse to acknowledge that they haven’t worked, nor will they ever work until 100 percent of the country’s assets are in bank accounts. We should have learned that in Reagan’s day – but they seem to hold onto that solution like the proverbial drowning man clutching at the very last straw.

All the work trying to go for bipartisanship was a tad embarrassing for the president – but then it was meant to be, wasn’t it? Someone with a wicked, devious mind may infer that the three who made it possible for the bill to pass were given the go-ahead by the others. Either way, they win.

Hopefully,  the heart of the bill was not totally sacrificed to get those three Republicans. Perhaps the Democrats could have gotten them without all the hard work and spun wheels.

Clearly the Republicans don’t get it or maybe they get it too well. They dance around the periphery of the great chasm, strutting their stuff and blaming Democrats for the first bailout of the banks which seemed to have accomplished little.

Their previous boss was not called George W. Bush, corporate bailout king, for nothing. Airlines (2001) $19 billion; Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (2008) $200 billion; Bear Stearns (2008) $30 billion; AIG (2008) $85 billion; Wall Street (2008) $700 billion; auto industry (2008) $25 billion passed as part of the Wall Street comprehensive bail-out. Fed bank (2008) $99 billion (additional money pledged after the Treasury Department bailout of Wall Street.) Military-mercenary industry give-away (2001-08) $713 billion; tax cuts for the wealthy (2001-08) $1.3 trillion. Grand total: $3.171 trillion.

And the GOP is worried that the “tax and spend” Democrats will engineer the largest transfer of wealth in this country’s history? Give me a break already. Was that architect a Democrat? Of course not. It was the hand-picked choice of W. and a man from Wall Street trying to tame Wall Street. Sure, fat chance.

In the meantime, the Republicans are doing the same things all over again. But instead of calling them bonuses, now they are called “awards.” There is no end to Republican cynicism and hypocrisy.

If anything comes out of all this, it is the recognition that government has little to do with how financing is run in this country. It is the purview of those mysterious bankers. And in the end, barring any decent leadership, they will still be calling the shots.

Do we want an architect of the original decontrol to now reverse his thinking and become its chief judge and jury? Whatever happens, the government and the taxpayers will only be out another trillion dollars or so.

One might even question Obama’s bill with some legitimacy and sigh at 17,000 troops being sent to Afghanistan. So, what we have learned from this is that, whether we realize it or not, we are actually a government of oligarchs who rule mysteriously from afar by controlling the money supply and how it circulates through the economy and who gets money and who doesn’t.

A bright note is the hope that the president, as he said on Feb. 22, will indeed scale down our involvement in Iraq and tax cuts for the rich will die a beautiful and deserved death in 2010.

… As I was saying …

Wendy England Binnie, a novelist and op-ed columnist, lives in Oak Trace Villas. Contact her at smcnews@earthlink.net.