Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Obama 1st 6-weeks' period Grade: B

Part III

The Republicans are losing the political war, even if they're winning a couple of battles. A good example is this "omnibus spending bill larded with earmarks", which it is. It is also going to pass, and Obama is going to sign it. All of which infuriates John McCain, who was thinking specifically of this bill when he made all his threats about "You will know their names!" in the campaign.

McCain fulminated ineffectively in favor of his amendment to cut local earmarks:
"How does anyone justify some of these earmarks: $1.7 million for pig odor research in Iowa; $2 million 'for the promotion of astronomy' in Hawaii; $6.6 million for termite research in New Orleans; $2.1 million for the Center for Grape Genetics in New York," he said.

Actually, I can probably justify most of that without even reading the specifics to which he referred: "pig odor research" would be a study dealing with the huge problem of handling the massive volume of excretions pig farming produces, and I guess they're thinking of a chemical treatment to neutralize it or make it useful; "astronomy in Hawaii" is a good way to save money vs. launching a new Hubble Space Telescope, worthy as that kind of initiative will be in a few years (when we've got a new manned launching platform worked out); accidentally-imported termites are creating nearly infinitely-large colonies causing a sci-fi-type national defense issue (with an ideal breeding ground in the abandoned districts of N'awlins); and, I'll let my entomologist sister argue this better some other time, but intelligent use of "natural" cross-breeding informed by superb knowledge of grape vine DNA sounds like a great way to build up resistance to mold and other pests, not to mention major potential gains in productivity, and thus, jobs in upstate New York.

So, yeah, I'd vote for those.

Your Mission, Barack, is to Atomize Them, Not Us

The Republicans seemed embarked on a no-win strategy with their opposition to stimulus spending: if Obama succeeds, they become history's dust; if he doesn't, we're all dead anyway.

They passed up an opportunity to come inside the tent, which is really the only way to have any influence over what happens in there. The three Senators who crossed over are the only Republicans who did their careers any good.

I would like to see a quicker descent for the budget deficits in the outer projected years (2013-2015) of the Obama Administration's new proposal. If this stuff is working, we should be back to budget deficits in the $200-400 billion range, or better. I don't doubt that it's a good idea to under-promise and over-deliver, but the quality represented in the proposed budget's out years isn't high enough to gain acceptability from anyone. It will get changed in the negotiations, and Obama will live with the revised targets.

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