Notes: Congress failed to pass an economic stimulus plan in response to the recession before its Christmas recess. The reason? Partisan politics, of course. Neither party rose above its self-interests on this one. Each was a Grinch.
Democrats accused Republicans of not sufficiently addressing health-care needs of the unemployed, of spending too much money and of giving too many tax cuts to big business. Republicans responded that the Democratic plan for health-care insurance for the unemployed would hurt businesses during a recession and raise insurance rates while not providing stimulus through tax cuts. Note that such legislation must originate in the House of Representatives.
When it became apparent that no stimulus package would make it through Congress before the Christmas recess, both parties jockeyed for position to blame the other. At 4 a.m. Thursday morning, -- yes, 4 a.m. -- the Republican-controlled House passed a stimulus package that it knew could not make it through the Senate in an effort to make it look as though Democrats were negligent in not passing stimulus legislation. Another motive House Repulicans had was to make Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle look like an obstructionist. Daschle is thought to be planning to run against George W. Bush for president and Republican attacks on him have already begun. House Republicans were right, too. Daschle obliged and refused to allow the bill to come up for a vote saying that bad legislation was worse than no legislation. He says Congress will have to address the issue when it returns in January, but some Republicans say that the moment for passing such a package has passed.
Privately, some Republicans groused that Bush had not really put his weight behind pushing their version. Its believed that with the nation at war, Bush does not want to appear too partisan, though he did take some after-the-fact shots at Democrats in a speech later in the day.
Some economists say they that failure to pass a stimulus package will not prevent the economic recovery forecast for the second half of next year, but they say it may delay it by a month or so. Others say that the recovery has shown signs of starting so that a stimulus package isn't necessary.
Say goodbye to bipartisanhip. 12.23.01