Friday, January 30, 2009
This is the Republicans' big contribution to our economic recovery: They want to make sure that undocumented immigrants who pay taxes using tax identification numbers don't get a cent of their tax money back in the refunds enacted by Congress. Oh, yes, and they want rich people to get tax refunds.
Anything else to contribute?
Republicans, rejecting all pretense of putting country before party, much less trying to participate in the solution instead of continuing to be the problem, voted to a person against the economic stimulus plan approved by the House. Last time I tuned in to their rants against illegal immigrants, they were stealing jobs from Americans and not paying taxes, thus robbing the U.S. Treasury -- even though, for their tax dollars, they are excluded from receiving most benefits the rest of us can get.
Now the major moan seems to be that those darn immigrants are actually paying their taxes and, therefore, like every other taxpayer, are entitled to a refund for having paid more than their share. How dare they? Then, of course, there are the familiar rants that the top 5 percent (which I assume includes every one of the ranters) should receive a bigger share of the tax relief (they already got the biggest share under the Bush plan) because, after all, who else is going to stimulate the economy by buying designer shoes and ball gowns?
This should be a moment for Republicans to look in the mirror and realize they need to reinvent themselves. Having presided (yes, it was a Republican in the White House) over the biggest economic meltdown in our lifetimes, brought on by (I will be honest enough to admit) the bipartisan embrace of their hands-off/deregulation/market-madness theory of the free enterprise system, and then having responded (yes, they were still in charge) with a big government bailout that conflicted with all those once cherished tenets, you might think that at least a few of the Republicans in Congress would realize it's too late to "just say no," and that they need a new song and dance. A tune you can hum. An approach to the problem that goes beyond demanding more for the wealthy and blaming immigrants for the rest.
The country wants bipartisanship, but it's hard to be bipartisan with people whose heads are firmly planted in the sand. All you can do is walk around them and wait for them to dig themselves out. Sooner or later. Or maybe never.
Democrats, for sure, don't have all the answers. Mistakes will be made. Maybe the Republican theory is to do nothing so that anything that does go wrong won't be their fault. But hoping for the worst and playing the blame game is precisely the kind of politics that almost everyone -- regardless of race, age, class or even political party -- agrees is useless, hopeless and just plain insulting.
During the Reagan years, they used to call the Democrats the party of "doom and gloom," focused on what's wrong, or would go wrong, or had been done wrong. It is fair to say that it was not an effective strategy. The 1980s were a wasteland for the Democratic Party.
Better to try and fail than to sit on your hands. Or stick your head in the sand. Or scream about how the rich should get more and immigrants should pay more. If that's the best Republicans can do, they'll be stuck in place for quite some time.
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