Listening to House Republicans debate the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is like listening to outtakes from the Twilight Zone.

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Jeffrey Feldman, Editor-in-Chief
Frameshop, 02/13/2009

Watching the House Republicans debate the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is like watching outtakes from the Twilight Zone.   Here is a short list of some bizzarro ideas the Republican Party is repeating in defiance of pragmatism, not to mention the laws of physics.

Government Is Not Part Of The Economy
The biggest claim Republicans are making is that "government" is somehow outside of the "economy."  Republicans in the house are repeatedly arguing that investing money in government agencies is not related to investing in the economy.   "This bill contains spending on government, not the economy."   If government is not part of the economy, where exactly is it? 

The idea the Republicans want us to buy is this:  the "economy" only includes for-profit businesses.  Anything that involves investment in public agencies is not investment in for-profit business, therefore, it is not the economy.  According to this logic, the only way to invest government money in public works is to give that money to for-profit firms who then use it on government contract work.  That is why the Republicans supported giving billions to Haliburton and other firms for no-bid work in Iraq and New Orleans, but reject investing in pay for teachers. 

Investment In Infrastructure Will Not Lead to Recovery
Republicans would have us believe that spending money on infrastructure--repairing roads, bridges, railroads, and schools--will not lead to recovery.  The Republicans talk about investment on infrastructure as 'government spending.'  "Government spending will not led to recovery."

The idea the Republicans want us to buy is this:  recovery means only that profit margins in private business have been restored.  When profit margins have been restored, tax revenues will increase, and those revenues indicate recovery.  According to this logic, any dollar government spends on infrastructure repair is wasted.  Is it any wonder that levees nd bridges collapsed after decades of Republican dogma in attendance?

The Recovery Act Will Lead To Rationing of Health care
This claim is so strange that it really makes one wonder how much peanut butter they have been eating:  the American Recovery and Investment Act will lead to a communist revolution in American medical care. 

The idea the Republicans want us to buy is this:  the Recovery Act secretly funnels money to government agencies empowered to take control of all hospitals, clinics, doctors offices, insurance companies, and pharmacies.   According to this logic, every dollar spent on public agencies is tantamount to government seizing control of our private lives.

We Do Not Know What Will Happen As A Result Of The Recovery Act
It may seem irrational to claim in one breath that the bill will led to socialism, but in the next breath claim that nobody knows what the bill will do.  But Republican dogma is not troubled by this contradiction. "Nobody knows what this bill will do," they proclaim.  Nobody knows. 

The idea Republicans want us to buy is this:  the Recovery Act is nothing more than a hastily made stew of paybacks and Liberal voodoo.  Sending large amounts of resources to state governments asking for relief?  How could anybody possibly know what effect it would have if places like California, Florida, and Michigan have money to pay for services, salaries, and shovel-ready public works?

Cutting Spending Is The Only Way to Increase Spending
One of the most common make-believe GOP economic theories has to do with cutting spending as a strategy for increasing spending.  "The only way to prevent an economic slowdown is to stop spending!" 

The idea Republicans want us to buy is this: To revive the economy, government needs to stop spending to match the way the public has stopped spending.  According to this logic, all spending comes to a grinding halt, at which point--by magic--spending suddenly starts again.  Abracadabra.

A Lesson From The ARRA Debate:  Dogma Clouds Common Sense
There are many more odd claims that defy common sense in the Republican arguments.  But what we hear in the Republican Recover Act debate is the end result of GOP dogma gone wild. 

Over and over and over again, the Republican Party insists that the American people worry about the perils of investing money in a functioning government and advance to the American people the baseless claim that government functions outside the bounds of the economy.

What does the American public actually want to talk about?  We want to talk about every possible action that can be useful to our economic recovery--every possibility, unbound by dogma, unfettered by ideological gate-keeping. 

If the Republican Party just lift its head from the ideological cloud of its own making, it could join America in the pragmatic debate the rest of us are having.

© Jeffrey Feldman 2009, Frameshop

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