The Day The Music Died
The worst part about today's Daschle/Killefer twin killing is that Obama was scheduled for interviews with every major news channel today, and instead of talking about what he wanted to talk about, the stimulus package and why we have to pass it, he instead took confessional with the media grand poohbahs.
Barack Obama on Tuesday abruptly abandoned his nomination fight for Tom Daschle and a second major appointee who failed to pay all their taxes, fearing a lingering ethics dispute would undercut his claims to moral high ground and cripple his presidency in just its second week. "I screwed up," Obama declared.
"It's important for this administration to send a message that there aren't two sets of rules — you know, one for prominent people and one for ordinary folks who have to pay their taxes," Obama said near the end of a day of jarring developments, little more than 24 hours after he had said he was "absolutely" committed to Daschle's confirmation.
"I'm frustrated with myself, with our team. ... I'm here on television saying I screwed up," Obama said on NBC's "Nightly News with Brian Williams." He repeated virtually the same words in interviews with other TV anchors.
It's great that he can admit mistakes - certainly he's a hell of a lot more of a human being than George Bush ever was. But there's an opportunity cost here. The headlines were about Obama's contrition and falling on the mercy of the court. Nothing about how the reports that the stimulus doesn't spend out enough money in the first two years were bogus and wrong. Nothing about how spending is stimulus and the conservative Senators saying otherwise don't know what they're talking about. Nothing about how tax breaks are, conversely, ineffective as stimulus, despite the bleatings of the right. Nothing about how the economy is dead and this bill is urgent, and the people who broke the economy aren't the ones who can fix it.
What economic talk there was in the interviews was completely disheartening.
President Barack Obama said on Tuesday he did not want to send a protectionist message on world trade and would look at altering "Buy American" language in an economic stimulus bill coming out of Congress.
"I think it would be a mistake ... at a time when worldwide trade is declining for us to start sending a message that somehow we're just looking after ourselves and not concerned with world trade," Obama said on the Fox television network.
This is the typical double standard that America is held to, never allowed to even use normal domestic sourcing standards for our own industries, while the rest of the world goes along protecting their industries to the tune of trillions in subsidies and implementing their own stimulus plans using only domestic materials. It's bullshit and this idiotic study from the Peterson Institute for International Economics - yes, that's Peter G. Peterson's outfit, the right-winger who bankrolled I.O.U.S.A. - which claims that a $825 billion dollar recovery package would only yield 1,000 iron and steel jobs, proves it's bullshit. Corporate lobbyists still rule this country and they rule this President's economic team, sadly.
Meanwhile, in the Senate, where Republicans have been screaming that the package needs more infrastructure spending, they... blocked $25 billion more in infrastructure spending while giving a tax break to consumers to buy cars even though they can't afford cars because they don't have a fucking job. It's a bloodbath in the Senate and it may only get worse.
Barbara Boxer and infamous global warming denier James Inhofe will present an amendment to the Senate stimulus plan that could funnel as much as $50 billion in additional funding to highways, Streetsblog has learned. Friends of the Earth tells us that Boxer's staff confirmed she will introduce the amendment, which could bring the total for highways close to $80 billion, exactly the figure Inhofe demanded last week in a letter to the Committee on Environment and Public Works.
The amendment is expected within the hour, according to Kate McMahon of Friends of the Earth. Inhofe press director Marc Morano didn't deny the number, but said "a lot is going on today and I'll confirm with you shortly."
While Republicans chip away at ridiculously stupid side issues, Senate Democrats are conceding that the bill has to shrink.
Democratic leaders conceded they may soon be obliged to cut billions of dollars from the measure. "It goes without saying if it's going to pass in the Senate, it has to be bipartisan," said Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the second-ranking Democratic leader, adding that rank-and-file lawmakers in both parties want the bill's cost reduced.
One Democrat, Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, said he hoped for reductions "in the tens of billions of dollars."
And Obama is doing nothing but enabling the right's rhetoric by expressing frustration about the bill being a "Democratic wish list". And the one chance he had to message on the bill was caught up in apologies over Daschle.
Man, today is a horrible day for progressive politics.