The Housing Chronicles Blog: Congress fiddles as the world burns

Friday, February 6, 2009

Congress fiddles as the world burns

Just when you thought we might actually be getting some real bi-partisan cooperation in Washington, D.C., apparently the Republicans are more concerned about scoring brownie points with a base still enamored of more tax cuts than coming up with a stimulus bill with the intent to avoid an economic meltdown. From an opinion piece by Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman in the New York Times:

A not-so-funny thing happened on the way to economic recovery. Over the last two weeks, what should have been a deadly serious debate about how to save an economy in desperate straits turned, instead, into hackneyed political theater, with Republicans spouting all the old clich├ęs about wasteful government spending and the wonders of tax cuts...

Somehow, Washington has lost any sense of what’s at stake — of the reality that we may well be falling into an economic abyss, and that if we do, it will be very hard to get out again.It’s hard to exaggerate how much economic trouble we’re in. The crisis began with housing, but the implosion of the Bush-era housing bubble has set economic dominoes falling not just in the United States, but around the world...

We’re already closer to outright deflation than at any point since the Great Depression. In particular, the private sector is experiencing widespread wage cuts for the first time since the 1930s, and there will be much more of that if the economy continues to weaken...

So what should Mr. Obama do? Count me among those who think that the president made a big mistake in his initial approach, that his attempts to transcend partisanship ended up empowering politicians who take their marching orders from Rush Limbaugh.

What matters now, however, is what he does next. It’s time for Mr. Obama to go on the offensive. Above all, he must not shy away from pointing out that those who stand in the way of his plan, in the name of a discredited economic philosophy, are putting the nation’s future at risk. The American economy is on the edge of catastrophe, and much of the Republican Party is trying to push it over that edge.

Yes, Rush Limbaugh (who, like Sean Hannity, dropped out of college before finding his calling in radio) can be very funny and his show is often quite entertaining. But for politicians to take their cues from an entertainer or celebrity (whether on the right or the liberal left) is the height of brain-dead irresponsibility.

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