GOP disappoints on stimulus vote

The economy needs robust government spending to fill the consumption void.

President Barack ObamaâÄôs stimulus bill has the potential to revive the economy through a combination of crucial government spending on education, infrastructure and health care and a series of tax cuts and rebates to put money in the hands of Americans. The billâÄôs passage by the House is an early step in the right direction in the battle against recession âÄî but it is deeply troubling that not a single one of the 177 Republican representatives could bring themselves to support the much-needed spending. In debate of the bill, Republicans proposed an alternative stimulus package that was much smaller and consisted only of tax cuts. However, an appropriate fiscal stimulus has to include large-scale government spending to fill the gap in private consumption left by the recession. In these tumultuous times, tax rebates are likely to be saved rather than spent âÄî the only surefire way to boost consumption is through direct government expenditures. Spending on infrastructure and health care creates and saves jobs immediately. The billâÄôs support of healthcare and unemployment benefits will also be crucial as the economic forecast darkens. Since more and more citizens are losing their jobs, many will be losing their health care coverage, as well, and will be forced to turn to the government for support. In nine months, when the Obama economic team expects unemployment is to be at its highest, the provisions of this stimulus bill will ensure that as many Americans as possible have the health and welfare assistance they need. After weeks of debate and compromise, and a meeting between Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and 11 House Republicans, several Republican demands were met, including removal of provisions for family planning and National Mall improvements. Obama made an admirable effort to achieve bipartisan approval of the bill, but his attempts to win GOP votes were in vain, and the time spent debating might cost the economy in the long run. The bill that the Obama administration presented was designed to be both a jolt to the economy and a thorough measure to soften the pain of recession over the next two years. It is troubling that many in Washington seem too constrained by ideology to deal with the immense challenges facing the nation. This editorial, accessed via UWire, was originally published in the Harvard Crimson at Harvard University. Please send comments to [email protected]