- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 10, 2009

THOSE EARMARKS

”For the second time in as many months, Republicans in Congress have managed to slow down a major appropriations bill with horror stories about tangential spending,” Bruce Reed writes at www.slate.com.

”During the stimulus debate, when Republicans on the talk shows started scoring points against provisions to spruce up the Mall and fund contraceptives, the White House forced House leaders to drop anything that wasn’t cable-ready. Now Senate leaders are scrambling to pass last year’s omnibus bill, which contains thousands of bipartisan earmarks that sound awfully silly,” said Mr. Reed, president of the Democratic Leadership Council.

“In the end, Democrats will probably find the votes to break a filibuster on the omnibus. Most senators favor the bill, many of the earmarks were added by Republican members, and appropriation knows no party. But the longer these floor fights drag on, the clearer it becomes that Republicans will succeed in one objective: making a disproportionate amount of congressional spending sound silly.

“Honeybee factories, Mormon cricket control, beaver management - not much dignity remains after both Dana Milbank and Maureen Dowd devote their columns to the pork on John McCain’s Twitter. While some pet projects may be every bit as reasonable as their defenders maintain, arguments are not won on defense.



“So far, these attacks don’t seem to have done the GOP much good, apart from lifting conservative spirits and uniting congressional ranks. But Democrats ignore them at our peril - which is why the White House moved so quickly to excise distractions from the stimulus. To turn the economy around, the federal government needs to make some significant investments, and President Obama can’t let public confidence be rattled by insignificant ones.”

LIBERAL’S LAMENT

President Obama‘s team, unlike Bush’s team, demonstrates a thinness of skin that shocks me,” financial adviser Jim Cramer, host of CNBC’s “Mad Money,” writes at www.mainstreet.com.

”When I somewhat obviously and empirically judged that the populist Obama administration is exacerbating the crisis with its budget and policies, as evidenced by the incredible decline in the [stock market] averages since his inauguration, I was met immediately with condescension and ridicule rather than constructive debate or even just benign dismissal,” said Mr. Cramer, a liberal Democrat, Obama supporter and outspoken critic of the Bush administration.

“I said to myself, ‘What the heck? Are they really that blind to the Great Wealth Destruction they are causing with their decisions to demonize the bankers, raise taxes for the wealthy, advocate draconian cap-and-trade policies and upend the health care system? Do they really believe that only the rich own stocks? What do they think we have our retirement accounts in, CDs? Where did they think that the money saved for college went, our mattresses? Do they think the great middle class banks at the First National Bank of Sealy and only the wealthiest traffic in the Standard & Poor’s 500?’ ”

Mr. Cramer added: “I am always glad to have any allies and defenders [on the right], but I do favor almost all of Obama’s agenda, right down to having the rich pay more of their freight in this great country. It’s just not the right time. We need to declare a war on unemployment and solve it before we let it get out of hand. We need to stop house-price depreciation.

“Neither the pork-laden stimulus plan nor the confusing mortgage proposal put forward by Obama will defeat either enemy. When Obama trounces both unemployment and house-price depreciation, he will have the power to enact anything he wants. But all the initiatives he wants to rush, like tax hikes, changes in health care, tinkering with the mortgage deduction - good grief, right now in the midst of the worst housing downturn ever - and the tough cap-and-trade rules, will derail any chance we have of turning this economy around. Instead, they put the Second Great Depression smack on the nation’s table.”

CHILDISH THING

”So much for changing the smallness of our politics,” Tom Bevan writes in a blog at realclearpolitics.com.

”In the New York Times [Monday], Jeff Zeleny confirms what we already know, which is that David Axelrod approved of the strategy of having the White House engage with Rush Limbaugh: ‘The recent back-and-forth with Rush Limbaugh, for example, was explicitly authorized by Mr. Axelrod, who told aides that it was not a moment to sit quietly after Mr. Limbaugh said he hoped that Mr. Obama would “fail.” ´

“I heard James Carville justify the White House’s strategy last week by saying that Rush Limbaugh ‘started it.’ That’s a true - though utterly juvenile - response,” Mr. Bevan said.

“The whole point is that while Limbaugh’s statement is legitimate grist for Democratic National Committee and liberal groups around the country to beat Republicans over the head with, the White House should be above the fray of engaging in direct attacks on its critics, particularly unelected individuals.

“And, of course, it’s especially hypocritical of Barack Obama who campaigned for two years on the promise of getting past the ‘smallness’ of our politics and who just a few weeks ago lectured the nation on the importance of putting aside ‘childish things’ to focus on the important tasks facing the country.”

BLAME BUSH

”Maybe he’s being a political diplomat, or maybe he’s just trying to forget the past. But President Obama’s reluctance to blame his Republican predecessor by name for the financial mess irks Democrats,” Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column at www.usnews.com.

” ‘He should be out there going coast to coast blaming George Bush for this mess. He doesn’t have to own it,” says one key party adviser. Of concern: If the situation gets as bad as feared, voters will blame Obama.

“ ‘He doesn’t have to do the dirty work; others can. But they have to blame Bush every day so people don’t forget. That way, they get the credit for the recovery, if that comes, and not the blame for the recession,’ says another glum administration adviser.”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected]

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