It turns out that Republicans are unhappy with Barack Obama's stimulus package. They have their own plans they want used. They want the president to make even more concessions. They want a seat at the table for discussions of what to do.
Completely understandable that they want this. Who wouldn't?
One problem. It's all those crafty Republican economic plans that got us in this national economic disaster in the first place.
Having Republicans devise economic plans to help get America out of its economic disaster is like having the guide who got your group lost in a forest demand to be part of the team that will find a way out. If the guide had the slightest clue how to get you out, you wouldn't be lost in the first place.
That Republicans, in large part, created this economic disaster with their tax cuts, spending, lack of oversight in banking and housing, and trickle down economics theory, all of which is one of the major reasons that they lost the last election in decisive manner. Mind you, I don't mean lost the presidential election - I mean the Senate, House of Representatives and the presidential election. The public saw who screwed up the most with the economy and wanted someone else to lead them out of the forest.
Republicans asking to have their economic plans followed is like the Republicans asking to be put in charge of getting America out of the Iraq War and shutting down Gitmo and ending torture. Time was when they, too, controlled the White House, Senate and House of Representatives. They could have ended all these disasters at any time...but they not only didn't end them, they increased them. And supported their leader every lock-step of the way.
And these are the people trying to tell the American public that they know best what to do with the economy. How to fix it. ("It" being another term for "the problem they caused.")
What Republicans want is for Barack Obama to not eliminate tax cuts for the wealthy, to continue the Bush tax cuts, increase them and make permanent. There are other things they want, as stimulus, some of which even make sense, much of which the Democrats want, too, but it all comes back to two things: one, they want more tax cuts, and two, they still love this whole trickle down economics from the wealthy. Just like Ronald Reagan tried, and mucked up the economy. And just like George W. Bush really mucked up the economy.
Republicans insist they know what's best for the economy. After all, they drove us here. Unfortunately, it was a one-way road, and they tore up the path to get here.
And they demand a voice in fixing the problem they caused.
To be clear, they weren't alone in causing the problem. There were some Democrats who made missteps along the way. But there was another leader heading up those missteps, and another party unanimously supported them for eight years. Blame is not something you pass around evenly, just to be bi-partisan. Blame is something you accept responsibility for and let others who didn't cause the problem fix it.
Also, to be clear, Republicans should have voice at the table. Republican proposals should be heard. This is a serious national problem, and all opinions should be listened to. But all opinions are not equal. There has to be a recognition of where these opinions are coming from. It's not a grab bag where you toss in ideas and pull out suggestions blindly.
What's missing in the equation when Republicans make their economic demands is a simple phrase. Every time a Republican insists they be included in the process, they should be required to add, "...unlike how we handled things."
When House Minority Leader John Boehner stands near-weeping yet again before a microphone and starts trying to throw his non-existent weight around, what I want to hear is him say, "This must be a bi-partisan effort. Unlike how we handled things."
Until you admit a problem, you can't fix it. If Republicans insist on stomping and posturing and crying out with no acknowledgment of their responsibility of economic malfeasance and heavy-handedness in keeping Democrats marginalized, as if the past never existed, then every word out of their mouths is hollow and meaningless.
And the problem runs deeper. Because as long as Republicans keep burying their heads in the ground, unwilling to acknowledge why they lost the White House, Senate and House of Representatives, all the while acting as if they're still in charge and that public supports them, they will continue their spiral to oblivion.
And so, let it be written when the American economy turns around - which it will, which it has to - that every single Republican in the House voted against the stimulus package.
These Republicans and their flying Bill Kristol-troupe of pundits were wrong for eight years - wrong on the economy, wrong on Iraq, wrong on torture, wrong on Katrina, wrong, wrong, wrong. And now they want the public to listen to them as if the past never happened. The public may have been foolish enough to re-elect George Bush, but they aren't that stupid. That's why Barack Obama and the Democrats are now in charge.
I want Republicans heard. I want all voices heard. I want the American economy strong, and the nation strong, wherever the answers come from. But that won't happen by following the path that got us here.
All it takes to get off that path is one simple phrase: "Unlike how we handled things."