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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

February 14, 2009 at 9:00 AM

National stimulus plan

The Associated Press

Congressional leaders including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, at podium, face members of the news media following conference committee discussion of the economic-stimulus plan.

Peanuts to drive the ship,

not turn it around

Editor, The Times:

We now have the great debate over whether the stimulus package will solve the problem. A frequent refrain is, “Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal did not get us out of the Depression; it was World War II that got is out of the Depression.” I don’t know what is being implied with this statement.

Conservatives seem to imply that government (the hated Roosevelt) had nothing to do with getting us out of the Depression — that something vaguely peculiar about to WWII got us out of the Depression.

What got us out of the Depression was huge government spending in WWII and, in effect, full, forced employment.

During the New Deal period of the 1930s, the Roosevelt budget was modest with a modest increase in the national debt. During WWII, government spending was 50 percent of the gross domestic product; it was only 10 percent during the New Deal. Twelve million men and women were in uniform, an equivalent of 30 million Americans today.

Yes, government spending does create jobs, much to the counter-jingoism of conservatives. I don’t recall conservatives arguing against having a Defense Department because their expenditures didn’t create jobs.

In the 1930s, there was not the political will to spend vast sums of money on the New Deal as was spent for World War II, nor the perceived need to do so. That is the case now as well. The stimulus package is peanuts relative to our GDP. Like the New Deal, it will help, but it won’t turn us around.

I think the lesson to be learned from the Roosevelt era is not “New Deal did not do it, but World War II did,” but, rather, “you cannot spend peanuts and expect to turn the ship around.”

What turns the ship around is the confidence of the American public. This takes time; a few heads must roll. In the meantime, a stimulus package will help.

As for spending money on the “poor,” they are the ones who will put money right back into the economy — into the unemployed, college students, etc.

Helping folks with their mortgages? Why not. If we don’t, they will be out on the street, impacting our public budgets and private contributions. It is cheaper for me to keep them in their houses.

Rebuilding our infrastructure is not pork barrel; it is critical to a healthy economy. Sure, there will be some questionable projects. But, which projects will be done is a local-government decision.

And gee, isn’t that what the Republicans have been preaching for 30 years? That the best decisions are made at the local level? Thank goodness much of our infrastructure was rebuilt in the New Deal. We would not have won the war as quickly as we did if the New Deal had not built the hydroelectric dams and electrified the farm areas.

— Gary Minton, Seattle

Line after line of waste

I have been going through each page of the stimulus bill. It is a waste of paper. It is offensive to me and should be offensive to every American.

It does nothing that the president and Congress have been promising the people. It is not targeted at jobs. For example, what does allocating an additional $300 million for energy-efficient federal vehicles have to do with creating new jobs?

What are they going to do, put a bunch of Japanese workers on the job building Toyota Priuses, or are they just going to hire new people to drive them? Do they need new cars? Don’t they buy energy-efficient vehicles now?

This bill is full of wasteful spending.

Any member of Congress that votes for it should be ashamed. There is nothing new and innovative about it. All it has is line after line of waste of taxpayers’ money.

Go ahead, tell me how an additional $1 billion for nuclear “weapons activities” creates jobs in America. This is just a standard spending bill characterized only by its large size. Yet, we are placing an incredible burden on the backs of tomorrow’s taxpayers.

Shameful.

— Rick Johnson, Burien

Quit your right-wing squawking

So Congress, with the help of three renegade Republican senators, is about to pass a $789 billion stimulus package. Imagine that! Money to be spent in America, on projects to be worked on by Americans, to improve America and, as a byproduct, invigorate our economy.

Rush Limbaugh and followers notwithstanding, we hope it will work.

Should anyone wonder if this money is being idiotically squandered, simply Google: “Cost of Iraq war.” There you’ll find dollar figures putting it all in perspective.

And, it’s just money. For what? Nevermind the losses to America and Iraq, human and material.

Really, what is the right squawking about?

— Steve Lorton, Seattle

Dickering until we sink

Any doofus could sum up the favorite projects of every member of Congress, dicker a little, and call it a “stimulus” package.

The details make it pretty clear that what it stimulates is more dependence on government. Things like our infrastructure and energy production can certainly stand improvement, but infrastructure is just a means to an end. When the work is done, the jobs go away, we have new roads and bridges, but no new jobs to go to.

What people really need is food, clothing and shelter. Due to government intervention, taxes keeping businesses from expanding and innovating, overpaid workers, a growing sense of entitlement, pressure to only use someone else’s natural resources and many other reasons, Americans accomplish less. We get more of what we need and want from other countries and sink further into debt.

Perhaps the included tax breaks will stimulate a few Americans to invest in businesses and not just buy more foreign goods.

Back when this was a free country, people accepted that supporting themselves was their own responsibility, not the government’s, and those who work the hardest and smartest will come out on top (and even have something left over to share). It’s tragic politicians on the left have done such a good job selling socialism as the answer to all our problems that the naive may not wake up until it’s too late for all of us.

— Gary McGavran, Bellevue

Pork and prod

What are you talking about [“Obama hits trail to pitch his plan,” Times, page one, Feb. 9]? This isn’t Obama’s plan; it should have been, but it isn’t.

Obama abrogated his role in the plan’s development to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and her House minions, where it was so porked and lobbied that no one could ignore it, then kicked to the Senate, where Democrats have had to buy three Republican votes.

Obama can campaign all he wants on the resultant confused mess of a bill, but it is not his. The White House didn’t come up with their own plan — that would be leadership — and will now try to sell Congress’s plan to us.

How about reminding Obama that he was elected to lead, change, improve his own ideas. Or, does he have any?

— Steve Danishek, Seattle

Recalibrating

spending habits

In Friday’s article, “Stimulus legislation: Not the right recipe to get U.S. cooking again?” [page one, Feb. 13], the noted economists claim the plan is not good enough because there are not enough incentives to push us to begin buying.

Where have these economists been?

People without jobs, or afraid that they will lose their job, are not going to go out and spend money, even with incentives. They will not buy a house, a car or even a computer.

One of the key aspects of this stimulus package is to create and save jobs. Once we have people back to work, or not afraid for their paycheck, we will see spending start again — but not until then.

Keep in mind that our spending habits have been recalibrated, probably for the long term. The age of indiscriminate spending is gone.

Essentials first, savings second and then, if there is some left over, maybe a new car or computer.

— Robert Oberlander, Issaquah

So-called compromise

I find it appalling that the Democratic leadership and the White House worked behind closed doors to remove the American worker protections passed by the U.S. Senate and House.

The House of Representatives passed, by unanimous consent, two amendments that would have reserved stimulus-created jobs for American and legal-immigrant workers. Democrats on the Conference Committee saw fit to remove these American-worker protections. One can only assume that Democrats believe illegal-immigrant workers should have equal access to these stimulus-created jobs.

If this is true, then there is no way the Democratic Party can claim to be the true representatives of the American people.

Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Calif., sponsor of one of the House amendments, said, “Tonight, behind closed doors with no input from House Republicans, Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Reid crafted the so-called compromise on the stimulus bill. What we now know is that while billions of American taxpayer dollars are going to be spent, there is no assurance that the jobs created will go to American workers. The two amendments that had been accepted by the House Appropriations Committee were stripped without discussion or debate.”

I find this behavior despicable. President Obama promised a new era of open, honest government and bipartisanship, but it seems the Democrats did not receive the message.

Democrats need to start serving the interests of the American people instead of kowtowing to groups like the American Chamber of Congress. I fear that the Democratic Party has been irrevocably stained by the behavior of Reid, Pelosi and the White House.

— Michael Ridgway, Port Townsend

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