First, the President's Fate of the Union address, very much worth watching:
we have lived through an era where too often, short-term gains were prized over long-term prosperity; where we failed to look beyond the next payment, the next quarter, or the next election. A surplus became an excuse to transfer wealth to the wealthy instead of an opportunity to invest in our future. Regulations were gutted for the sake of a quick profit at the expense of a healthy market. People bought homes they knew they couldn’t afford from banks and lenders who pushed those bad loans anyway. And all the while, critical debates and difficult decisions were put off for some other time on some other day.
Well that day of reckoning has arrived, and the time to take charge of our future is here.
Now is the time to act boldly and wisely – to not only revive this economy, but to build a new foundation for lasting prosperity. Now is the time to jumpstart job creation, re-start lending, and invest in areas like energy, health care, and education that will grow our economy, even as we make hard choices to bring our deficit down. That is what my economic agenda is designed to do, and that’s what I’d like to talk to you about tonight.
And then Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, echoing the party line from, I think, 1930:
That is why Republicans put forward plans to create jobs by lowering income tax rates for working families … cutting taxes for small businesses … strengthening incentives for businesses to invest in new equipment and hire new workers … and stabilizing home values by creating a new tax credit for home-buyers. These plans would cost less and create more jobs.
But Democratic leaders in Congress rejected this approach. Instead of trusting us to make wise decisions with our own money, they passed the largest government spending bill in history - with a price tag of more than $1 trillion with interest. While some of the projects in the bill make sense, their legislation is larded with wasteful spending. It includes $300 million to buy new cars for the government, $8 billion for high-speed rail projects, such as a 'magnetic levitation' line from Las Vegas to Disneyland, and $140 million for something called 'volcano monitoring.' Instead of monitoring volcanoes, what Congress should be monitoring is the eruption of spending in Washington, DC.
Well I, for one, am glad that the government monitors volcanoes. There's no profit in it, I don't have the resources to do it, and the consequences of not doing it are catastrophic. That's what government is for. Transportation infrastructure (including "magnetic levitation"—Maglev—lines, which Jindal thinks belong in Disneyland), defense, and the occasional sky projector for a public museum are all things that government has to do or they won't get done. This is basic economics, a class that few Republicans seem to have taken.
Or maybe they have, they just don't care. Remember, for most elected Republicans, it's all about power and playing the game for its own sake. But for us grown-ups (a few Republicans, and most Democrats—at least right now), it's about fixing the biggest economic disaster anyone under 65 has ever seen.
I will say, though, watching Jindal I wondered whether he was going to try selling me the clear-coat finish as well. He reminded me of a cross between a used-car dealer and one of those lawyers who advertises on local cable that he will fight for you. I can't wait for the Republican primary slugfest in 2012.