After Bush era, good faith

The stimulus compromise represents a change in the winds in Washington

A month into the Obama presidency, the political climate is still strongly reminiscent of the Bush era. Maybe itâÄôs still too soon to expect otherwise. Healing hard partisan hearts and closing the political divide will take time. Even so, the door is open. With the departure of the Bush administration, new political realities emerged that opened new avenues for politicians. In a situation like this, one would imagine that fresh thinking would begin to blossom. Unfortunately, it has not, and nowhere is that clearer than in the ongoing fight over stimulus legislation. It would be frustrating enough if both sides were merely intractable, but itâÄôs worse than that. Nobody has any new ideas; they are just continuing the old fights. Republicans want to pretend that trickle-down economics didnâÄôt meet an untimely end under the previous administration and that tax cuts are stimulative (which a number of economists, including 2008 Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman, reject). Democrats are still stuck with the psychology of the minority party, trying to slip pet projects into the bill, apparently hoping nobody will notice. They are also pulling out an old Bush-era bludgeon, praising the three Republican senators supporting the stimulus for their âÄúpatriotism.âÄù But late Wednesday, one of those âÄúpatriotsâÄù actually seemed ready to try something new. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, announced that the agreement reached in conference provided substantial aid as well as fiscal responsibility and was a âÄúgood-faith effort.âÄù This bill has been heralded as a crucial turning point in the countryâÄôs political course, and if that turns out to be the case, letâÄôs remember what made it pass: âÄúgood faith.âÄù