With the unanimous vote against the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, we have a lesson learned – that just because republicans got a second straight ass kicking in November and the "winds of change" have blown into DC, these are the same obstructionists that set a filibuster record in the Senate during the first year of the last Congressional session, and the same obstructionists that want America to fail, that called anyone who questioned Bush a "traitor" but are now doing the same to the current Commander-in-Chief and are the same hypocrites that would rather play politics than help move America forward, regardless of how much Obama reaches out to them, or how much Obama and Congressional Democrats try to compromise.
But we also see in stark terms exactly what these republicans stand against. Not just "jobs". Not just "infrastructure" and not just Obama’s agenda (as their mentor and leader Rush Limbaugh so plainly stated). No, this bill contained a large number of provisions that were directly aimed at helping America’s families in the worst possible economic conditions that many of us have ever seen.
And every single House republican voted against this. To put it in better context, the Congressional Budget Office put out a summary of the programs and an estimate of their costs. Rather than focus on the costs, which I personally think overall are too low in too many areas, I want to point out precisely what every House (and probably close to every Senate) republican voted against – precisely what they don’t want American families to have access to. Maybe because they think American families don’t need help, maybe because they think that "the free market will magically cure itself", maybe because they are cold hearted snakes who care more about scoring political points than they do about saving this country from financial ruin.
So here is a partial list of the programs that republicans think America doesn’t need (and I will say that there are alternative proposals by House republicans, including one by my own odious Representative, Scott Garrett, that consists of cuts to corporate and capital gains tax rates instead):
- An increase in the maximum benefit under the former food stamp program (now called the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program or SNAP);
- An expansion of broadband internet access to rural areas of America;
- Programs to improve infrastructure and develop rural communities;
- Improvements to the criminal justice system;
- funding for science and technology research;
- Funding for the Community Oriented Policing Services;
- Funding to repair, maintain and renovate the Department of Defense (DoD) facilities;
- Energy efficiency projects and modernization of heating/cooling and electrical systems at the DoD;
- Improving Army barracks;
- Energy related research and development (renewable energy programs and expansion of existing weatherization activites);
- Funding for the Army Corps of Engineers (remember the levees in New Orleans that weren’t funded?;
- Modernization of the nation’s electrical grid;
- Construction and repair of Federal facilities;
- Funding for clean water programs and water infrastructure projects;
- Capital improvements and maintenance for Forest Service and National Park Service, the Superfund program and wildland fire management;
- Funding for the Department of Health and Human Services;
- Funding for labor and employment training programs/Department of Labor;
- Renovations to elementary and secondary schools;
- Pell Grants and other student financial assistance;
- Educational programs aimed at elementary and secondary education;
- Defense construction projects – including hospitals, barracks and day care centers;
- funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to be used on maintaining VA medical facilities and cemeteries;
- Funding for Information Technology projects at the State Department;
- Funding for highway construction;
- Funding for housing assistance programs administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development;
- Grants to states and cities for community development;
- Refundable tax credits for middle and lower income families;
- Increase tax credit for higher education;
- Extension of tax credit for renewable energy production;
- Increase the earned income tax credit for lower income families with three or more qualifying children;
- Increased funding for emergency unemployment benefits for those who exhaust the amount of benefits they collect;
- Temporary increase in amount of unemployment benefits;
- Assistance to states for spending on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program;
- Extension of Medicaid coverage to certain unemployed workers;
- Assistance with COBRA premium payments for certain unemployed workers; and
- Incentives for health care providers to use "health information technology" which would reduce health care costs for providers and lower premiums.
Granted, this is not something that I would expect anyone to memorize, but if you look at these programs, they are geared towards jobs, education, infrastructure and emergency assistance to lower and middle income families. This is what republicans voted against. This is what the republicans feel is not as helpful to American families as capital gains and corporate tax cuts.
And this is why Obama, the Congressional Democrats and Americans should (if they already don’t) realize that the republican party is negotiating in bad faith. They would have voted against this bill regardless of what was in it or not in it. They simply do not care about helping American families. As Rush Limbaugh said, they want America to fail.
This is the first in a long string of issues where obstructionism and whining will be crystal clear. This is another example of how Congressional republicans and their cheerleaders are out of touch with reality and the American public’s pressing needs. And as America moves forward, should forget who is trying to stand in the way – just for the sake of standing in the way.