Not business as usual

by YES! Staff

The Republicans have bid adieu to yet another faction of their fragile coalition, it seems, with last week’s House vote on President Barack Obama’s $819 billion stimulus plan. The plan passed 244-188, with nary a single Republican vote, and with it came a tearing sound, like Velcro ripping, that signified the end of the synergy that existed between Big Business and the GOP. House Republicans defended their position against the recovery package with the usual paeans to the base — that it was based on spending more so than tax cuts, that it is loaded with pork like funding for the arts and schools and birth control.

The GOP has already lost its credibility as the party of low spending, courtesy of our last president. They’ve already lost touch with those who see funding for arts and education, including planned parenthood, as contributory to a robust economy. And in voting against the bill, House Republicans have also taken a stand against the billions of dollars going towards science and research, to shore up our national IT network infrastructure, to lower our energy consumption, to provide better healthcare for our citizens, to fix our crumbling roads and bridges. This puts House Republicans at odds with anyone who uses a computer, drives on roads, buys gasoline and catches colds. And by diametrically opposing the $275 billion in tax cuts the package promises, they stand in the way of the interests of some of the country’s biggest companies, the CEOs of which met with Obama just hours before the vote. “It’s important that business and government come together to help the President get this package through,” said Samuel J. Palmisano, the CEO of IBM, in her opening comments. The Senate version of the bill could contain even more provisions for big business, including tax breaks on foreign profits and easement on operating losses. And the Republicans are hunkering down for another fight. The Republican Party has already alienated the fiscally conservative branch of its makeup. It lost the blue-collar Republicans when the blue-collar Republicans lost their jobs and became unemployed Obama Democrats. It lost the law-and-order folks when it became apparent that the last administration had no respect for the rule of law. It lost the small-government supporters when the Executive Branch bloomed exponentially in size and scope over the last eight years. And unless it can enact some anti-abortion legislation soon, they are on the verge of losing even the religious right, which has moved to the center of the party’s ideology in the vacuum created by those who jumped overboard. But the business community, mercurial as always, has already cozied up to the new administration, which is now presiding over the second round of bailouts for the Wall Street set. According to a January article in The New York Times, Citigroup American Express, Capital One, Goldman Sachs, KeyCorp, Morgan Stanley, PNC, Bank of New York Mellon, GM and AIGhave already spent millions on lobbyists trying to snag shares of TARP II for their industries — so much so that Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner pledged to set new limits to what companies are allowed to spend.

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The business community, mercurial as always, has already cozied upto the new administration, which is now presiding over the second roundof bailouts for the Wall Street set.