posted on January 30, 2009 10:08
What were the Wall Street geniuses thinking when they handed out millions in bonuses with one hand while taking billions in taxpayer-bailout money with the other?
What were Republicans in the House thinking when every one of them voted against the stimulus bill?
Actually, it’s easy to answer both questions.
The Masters of the Universe were thinking they’d better get theirs while the getting is still good.
The Republicans were thinking that Obama’s election and the Democratic sweep of both houses of Congress is a temporary aberration that will right itself next year, just as in 1994.
And maybe they’re both right.
But they might both be wrong. They might find out that their world has changed for good – and, for them, not for the better.
Since 1980, the boys on Wall Street and in the corporate suites got used to a world where greed is good. Obviously, it’s taking them a while to realize that that world ended last fall.
Likewise, House Republicans got used to a world in which the answer to every political challenge is the same: cut taxes.
President Obama tried hard to bring along some Republicans. They were charmed, but unchanged. They recognized that the stimulus bill represents a change as revolutionary as the one FDR brought about in 1933 when he fundamentally altered the relationship between business and government. That era lasted until the Reagan Revolution in 1980.
The question now is whether the Obama era will be as long-lasting as the New Deal – or as temporary as Clinton’s after the 1992 election.
My guess is that it is long-lasting. Clinton wasn’t facing the most serious economic crash since the Depression. Obama is.
As Obama reminded one Republican congressman who wanted a stimulus bill more to his liking: “I won.” With enemies like this, he may keep winning.
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