Saturday, December 11, 2010

How a Potentially Good Deal Went Bad

Initially, when word of the tax deal reached between the Obama administration and Congressional Republicans came down people were happy that we would get the tax cuts extended for all and that the unemployment benefits would be extended as well. Then we started looking more closely at the deal. Alarm bells went off when Senator Jim Demint questioned it, Sarah Palin questioned it, Rush Limbaugh questioned it, Charles Krauthammer questioned it and then the conservative punditry and blogosphere questioned it. What happened?

What usually happens: Congress turned it into a Christmas tree and started loading earmarks onto the bill. And, the Republicans missed an opportunity to demand that the Obama administration agree to fund the unemployment benefits out of the existing stimulus money or cut spending somewhere else to fund it.

Why the problem with using the stimulus funds? Well, that's Obama's slush fund to grease the unions and the civil service just in time for his 2012 reelection bid. If you remember, some of the stimulus funds were set aside for "projects" in 2011 and 2012. Without those "projects," Obama runs out of money and is forced to borrow again. If he does that, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee can heap buckets of criticism on him as a deficit spender who is in bed with special interests.

Obama is obviously over his head. He thinks that the stimulus money is going to help the economy enough to get him reelected. Of course, he's deluded. So why not use the money for extending unemployment? And worst of all, if this guy is in so over his head and so deluded, why don't the Republicans strike now while the iron is hot and the election results are fresh in everyone's mind?

Republicans can't be unreasonable and nitpick this thing to death. But they should fight a lot harder to get tax cuts extended straight up and then work out how to fund extending unemployment benefits without hitting the country's near limit credit card again. Ethanol and other earmarks should left out.

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