Friday, October 14, 2011

E. J. Dionne: GOP's Do Nothing Approach

Here's an excerpt from E. J. Dionne's opinion post of October 12 in the Washington Post:

So let’s see: The solution to large-scale abuses of the financial system, a breakdown of the private sector, extreme economic inequality and the failure of companies and individuals to invest and create jobs is — well, to give even more money and power to very wealthy people, to disable government and to trust those who got us into the mess to get us out of it.
That’s a brief summary of the news from the Republican Party this week. It’s what Republican candidates said during the Post-Bloomberg debate Tuesday night, and it’s the signal Senate Republicans sent in voting as a bloc against President Obama’s jobs bill. Don’t just do something, stand there.

The jobs bill is a pretty simple mix of tax cuts and spending on popular items such as schools and roads. Its core idea accords with what the vast majority of economists (and a lot of businesspeople) think needs to be done: In the absence of private-sector investment and job creation, the federal government should be the investor of last resort to get the economy moving. This should be an urgent priority with unemployment stuck at more than 9 percent.

But no, “don’t do something, stand there” is the order of the day. Every Republican senator present voted to block the jobs bill. Government is to be powerless because the country’s most energetic ideological minority has declared that it must be powerless.

Years ago, Rep. Barney Frank, the Massachusetts Democrat much maligned during the Post-Bloomberg debate, introduced me to the concept of “Reverse Houdinis.” They are people who tie themselves up in knots and then declare, “I can’t do anything because I’m all tied up in knots.” We seem on the verge of putting Reverse Houdinis in charge of our government.
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