Here is what is infuriating about the uproar over President Obama's economic stimulus package: the very same people who are screaming that the U.S. government is setting taxpayer money on fire by using it for upgrading the electrical grid and fixing crumbling bridges, had, and STILL HAVE, absolutely no problem with the trillions of dollars the U.S. has spent on the Iraq war. Money flushed down the toilet. Wasted--for nothing. Well, except guaranteeing that most of the Middle East will continue to hate us for generations to come.
This is a major point that you rarely hear made by the TV news empty suits. Why is "government spending" a horrible travesty when the money goes to building schools and cleaning up toxic waste sites in our own backyards? Why is it not only OK, but utterly necessary, according to the Republicans, to spend trillions of dollars of public money on wars of choice? Because putting on a show--homeland security theater, if you will--trumps all other considerations? Because as long as their buddies in the defense and oil industries are raking in the cash, that's all that matters? That's what it's about, and the leadership of the GOP knows it. The question is when ordinary citizens who tend not to pay attention to politics are going to figure this out.
I wonder if we are beginning to see a shift in public thinking on this issue. I think Obama's election was just the beginning. As people's 401ks and other investments continue to tank and their jobs become more precarious--as more and more people lose their homes--the consequences of eight years of indiscriminate tax cuts for the uber-wealthy are becoming increasingly clear. The math just doesn't work. You can't simply remove a vast chunk of the public wealth from the government's coffers, in the form of the war spending and the tax cuts, and then expect things to magically continue to function as they always have. Infrastructure falls apart after a while. Schools crumble. If you never spend money to fix anything, well, things don't get fixed. I think people are starting to figure this out. It's really not that complicated.
The peril for the GOP will be the moment when a critical mass of Americans FINALLY gets this point. Once people realize that for the past 30 years, this line they've been feeding us about how "government is the problem" is actually bullshit, the Republicans are done. And they know it. This is why they are fighting Obama tooth and nail over this stimulus spending. The outcome of this fight will determine what trajectory our country takes over the coming generations.