Epiphanyblog

All about ideas…

The Stimulus Bill will pass, but…

with 5 comments

I have a few questions to ask.

1) Why are Republicans so against infrastructure expenditures?
I have friends and family who are Republican who say that the Bill will either just increase the Fed. government size (and it’s legendary inability to do anything efficiently and cost-effectively, they say) or it will waste money on infrastructure which the government should not pay for. Okay, I understand the Libertarian point of view in which each person or family should stand on his or her own two feet and not expect government to bail them out when they’ve made poor (or stupid) decisions. I accept that. I work hard for my income so I’m not inclined to give it away to slackers or idiots or people who just want someone else (as in the rest of us) to take care of them.

But building a 21st Century infrastructure to compete with foreign countries is an objection which I simply do not understand. I’m a business person. As a purchaser of goods and services for the last 30 years, I understand competitiveness depends upon supplying quality goods and services in a fast, efficient, economically competitive way is the only way in which any company can survive in a global marketplace.

I dearly want our country’s businesses to lead foreign competitors. To do that, we must have an infrastructure that allows our businesses (and families) to compete fiscally and rapidly with foreign competitors. This country has not invested in modern technological interstate infrastructure systems since Eisenhower in the 1950s. That’s a hellava long time to rebuild our country to compete – over 60 years. The world has changed dramatically in those years. As a result, the U.S. is rapidly losing it’s competitive edge – which will cause even more jobs to go to emerging countries that have invested in modern infrastructure. As all Silicon Valley execs, including the CEO of IBM, have stated infrastructure spending should be a priority in the Stimulus Bill. Decrying infrastructure spending in the Stimulus Bill is short-sighted and just plain stupid.

Sure some, if not many, of these projects are not shovel-ready, as Congressional Republicans say, but in getting them into development, many people will be hired in private industry to plan and develop these project, then other businesses will feel the affects of the increased income in their neighborhoods. Then, skilled workers will be hired to implement the plans which adds more income to local businesses. The ripple effects will be enormous.

2) Why do Republicans think that only tax reductions will stimulate the economy?
Yes, some tax reductions are good. I would dearly love to see research and development for any industry become a permanent tax deduction. Taxing research and development is anathema to global competitiveness…and just plain stupid. Why Congress refuses to enact this tax deduction (BTW, opposed by Republicans in the last Congress) permanently is beyond me. It hurts our industries and our ability to lower prices and be more competitive. Venture capitalists should also receive tax deductions for investing in new technologies and emerging industries. These people represent true capitalism in action and should be rewarded for their risk.

However, currently in the tax code are numerous tax reductions which only benefit rich Wall Street types. The top 1% have paid less in taxes, and made out better, than at any time in recent history, including the Reagan era. But there is little evidence from the last 8 years that shows their Republican-approved tax reductions have impacted our economy positively through any non-real estate business expansions.

Some tax cuts, obviously, make sense for our business competitiveness, but some seem to be just give-aways to rich, influential donors – just as in the ’70s or early ’80s when Congress passed a law that specifically, and only, benefited the Gallo Brothers because the Gallo Winery gave millions of dollars to influential Congressional members in campaign funds to get their single company-favoring law passed – which it did.

3) Why do Republicans think that the Stimulus Bill should provide only short term jobs without any long term effects?
In other words, why must the Stimulus Bill be either one – creating immediate jobs – or the other – creating long term economic benefits provided by emerging industries and technologies? Cannot the Bill provide both?

Frankly, I’m sick of the either – or scenario that dominates the arguments in Congress. As any good, logical business person knows, there is always a third or potentially fourth alternative. Analyzing the problem, evaluating the potential results, evaluating the fiscal impact, and determining the outcomes are always part of determining the best course of action. Yet, Congress does not seem – or refuses – to understand this simple business concept, except where their own electability is concerned.

Frankly, in my opinion, I am sick and tired of a Congress bent more on their own re-electability than on doing what is right and good for the entire country. We are a nation built of businesses – of a market economy. We need a Congress that understands national competitiveness, rather than just local constituencies and large donors, to regain our competitive edge. That edge has been slipping dramatically over the last decade, allowing the competitive rise of other countries. Is this really what we want? Do we always want to be a debtor nation rather than an innovative, export nation? We cannot export restaurant and retail workers (at minimum wages), but is that the nation we choose to become? Or do we want to be a productive, manufacturing nation (at quality wages) that exports leading edge, manufactured goods and technologies that no other country has yet to develop?

Right now in our industrial and R&D pipelines are ideas that revolutionize highways, mass transit systems, railways, energy – including nuclear – systems, and medical IT systems. All of these and many more, with expenditures that only the Federal government can afford, could push our nation into the leading edge of competitiveness for the next fifty or one-hundred years. To turn away from that competitive and economic edge would not only be stupid, but irresponsible.

In the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, our Federal government embarked on a federal spending program, through an Defense Department agency known as DARPA, that resulted in the internet, personal computers, space technologies, consumer products, telecommunication revolutions, medical advancements, and a host of other products that only initial government funding could afford. That same kind of revolutionary thinking and commitment to innovation is needed now.

With so many jobs as well as our manufacturing and innovative competitiveness at stake, why have Republican Congressional members adamantly opposed the Stimulus Bill? Their vetoes are illogical and regressive and anti-business.

To my thinking, the Bill does not have be either – or but rather both. It should stimulate new, innovative industries as well as provide high quality jobs in this new, 21st Century technological world economy. And it should support emerging industries, venture capitalists, and the retraining of workers to fully engage in new 21st Century technologies that can push the U.S. to the forefront again of world competitiveness.

If our elected leaders in Congress don’t understand this need, at this precarious time in our national history, they should not be allowed to retain their offices. We don’t need stupid leaders. We need imaginative, forward-thinking Congressional members who put the entire country ahead of their own self-interest. If they don’t, as it seems the current crop of Republican Congressional members have done, then they don’t deserve to retain their offices. That’s not to say every Democrat deserves his or her office.

However, the litmus test must be, going forward, for all Congressional members: what is in the national interest, not just the interests of my local constituents or those special interest groups who contribute big dollars to my campaign.

The ideology must change from what is in my best interest in being elected (and re-elected) to what is in the best interest of the entire country. We don’t have a moment to lose; otherwise the world will overtake us and leave us behind.

The only way to end being a huge debtor nation to the leading exporter nation, with enormous tax revenues to pay off our debt, is to innovate and create and produce manufactured goods and services that the rest of the world wants and is willing to pay for.

If Congressional members don’t get this simple, competitive idea, then they must be replaced with people who do.

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5 Responses

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  1. Mostly it’s a simple fact to many of us that billions of dollars are being targeted to programs and projects {ear marks} that will benefit few and will contribute little to putting Americans back to work.
    These same ear marks will not produce new jobs, reduce or reverse home foreclosures nor contribute to ending our current banking and business rescission.

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