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March 9, 2009 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Obama’s Campus Hub Project

Just as the VUWSA Trust has been vying for a student mandate to reconstruct the quad United States President Barack Obama has been reaching (or groping, rather) across the aisle for bi-partisan support for his federal stimulus proposal and fiscal budget…to no avail. Apart from deterring the economic (zombie) apocalypse, Obama’s proposals would drastically change the landscape of American social and economic policy. It’s been met with vehement opposition by those ideologically against his progressive, New Deal-esque reforms. But as congressional Republicans seem hell-bent on defending their marriage to a failed ideology, coupled with an apparent divorce from reality, this author begs the question; “Bi-partisanship? …what’s the point?”

The current economic crisis isn’t just some freak-accident or fluke of history. It’s the result of over three decades of hard-lobbied, right-wing, neo-conservative economic policies. Expanding on the Reaganomics that crippled the US economy in the 1980s, Republicans have been hard at work advancing their policies of zero-regulation and disaster capitalism since, literally, the last day of the Clinton administration. These policies have sent the American economy belly-up and forced 9 million Americans into home foreclosure. Apparently, when there are no rules of the road, there’s nothing to stop the titans of finance from downing a litre of vodka and driving 150kph through a school zone.

Shocking! You mean the market didn’t regulate itself?

Many Republicans are simply in the grips of a failed ideology and I can almost feel sorry for them. Some really believe their theory. That’s fine, but it’s demonstrably failed them. President Bush—with a Republican House, Republican Senate, and Republican White House—put Republican economics into play and gave us this new Bush depression.

It’s frustrating to believe in something all your life then see that it was wrong. At some point, Catholics had to accept that Galileo was right and the Pope was wrong. There were probably some hurt feelings, and it took several hundred years to get over it, but they had a failed theory. Pre-Galileo economics.

Republicans believe the whole world revolves around an elite class (à la Bernie Madoff and Ken Lay). If they target economic policy to a few elite investors, then everybody else can rest easy—because they’re so wise. Obviously, this premise is flawed.

Democrats trust people more. When they’ve targeted policy to the people the whole country does better. Even the rich do better; Bill Gates made his millions because middle-class people were able to buy computers. It lifts all boats.

So you’ve got your die-hard ideologues. Yet other Republicans are just playing raw, naked politics. Republican governors from across the country said they hated Obama’s proposal so much that they weren’t going to take the money. Ironically they’re from the states that’d benefit the most from these proposals. This is nothing but grandstand political play. It’s economics, not a moral crisis. If these Republicans believe that investing in their state’s schools, healthcare and smart-energy grid will hurt their state, then why force it on them?

What’s damning about governors like Jindal, Sanford, Haley Barbour (the usual suspects), is they know that even if a governor objects, state lawmakers can override him and accept the money anyway. And they’re still spewing this right-wing, crazy dogma. It’s the perfect world for them to stand up and beat on their chest; they want to run around and say they’re against spending but they also want the money for their states.

Obama needs to get tough with his Republican opponents, instead of inviting them to the White House for cocktails. I don’t see the need for consensus building right now; there’s too much to do. He sought bi-partisanship and only three Republicans out of all the Republicans in Washington thought it was important to save our economy. Do a simple cost-benefit analysis: the time he invested courting these Republicans—hors d’oeuvre and bridgebuilding. He changed the bill. Dropped out a bunch of investments he really believed in like family planning. Threw in a bunch of tax cuts the Republicans wanted, and 98.6% of them voted against him anyway. Mr. President, don’t give ‘em nothin’ until they give you something!

Are they out of touch or just angry?

In denial or disconnected?

A bit of both. The truth is, your everyday Republican—the voter, the person on the street—is just like Obama: pragmatic and endlessly reasonable. One in three support his recovery plan. But Washington’s different. When you have 32% of Republicans in America supporting Obama’s package and only 1.4% of Republicans in Washington voting for it, there’s a real disconnect.

It’s hard to see the light when your paycheck depends on you remaining in darkness. But the Bush years are over; ignorance is no longer rewarded. Should he continue this effort for bi-partisanship; does it mean anything? The American people are behind him. Why bother with the Washington Republicans? Most will be jobless next election anyhow.


About the Author ()

Andrew Mendes is an American studying International Relations and Public Policy at Victoria. He enjoys following politics and reading lots of news.

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