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Sep 22nd
Home Columns The Way I See It Are the Filipino Americans Stimulated Yet?
Are the Filipino Americans Stimulated Yet? PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - The Way I See It
Monday, 16 February 2009 08:53

T he latest talk of the country after the 2008 US presidential election is the way President Barrack Hussein Obama’s stimulus spending plan is playing out in Congress. Of course, the same crowd of Filipino Americans, who have taken it upon themselves to do the worrying for the community, is in the thick of it again. They’re getting their feet wet in an unfamiliar discipline that explains routine activity in abstruse economic terms. That makes it easy for one side that's hamstrung in the debate, to put down the winning argument, by just reminding the other side that economic principles are actually above our heads, unlearned that we are. This unnerving insinuation of unfitness hits where it really bothers you.


Yet, when you come down to it, the interchange just shows how Filipino Americans are taking sides in the long-drawn out ideological contention between the Democrats and the Republicans. There’s a long seething acrimonious tug of war between these two parties as to how the distribution of wealth and hardship in this country is to be achieved.  The line on the sand is clearly drawn.  Where you stand is usually not decided by what you’ve learned in a textbook you’ve consulted. It’s mostly dictated by the incremental influences piling up on your life and, maybe, habits acquired over time. This is especially true with Filipino Americans whose political alignment usually has no bearing to where their real interests lie.


President Obama’s weapon of choice against the economic downturn is what is now called as the American Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. It’s mighty interesting that it just passed the United States House of Representatives on 02/13/2009 along party lines, i.e., 246 Democrats in favor, and all 183 Republicans against, plus a handful of seven Democrats. It later passed in the Senate by the whiskers, when just three Republicans, the so-called progressives or moderates, voted yes along with all the 48 Democrats. All the remaining 38 Republicans voted against stimulus spending.  If the agreeing three senators are progressive or moderate, that would seem to say that the nay saying 38 Republican senators are hopelessly regressive or extremist. I’m amused to think of them as either modern-day economic Neanderthals, or Talibans?


Filipino Americans are taking sides in the long-drawn out ideological contention between the Democrats and the Republicans. There’s a long seething acrimonious tug of war between these two parties as to how the distribution of wealth and hardship in this country is to be achieved.

This outcome in the Congress mirrors the philosophical differences of the parties. In the midst of a great economic dislocation, the American people are looking for ways to dig themselves out of trouble. The answer of the Democrats is for putting the unemployed back to work. Absorb them in infrastructure construction and in programs that will get America to the next level of growth. The Republican way is to cut taxes so that taxpayers will have more spending money. Tax cuts, the say, will also put more money in the pocket of the rich. This will enable them to have the capital needed to invest in businesses that can hire more people.


These divergent approaches lead to the sorry display of partisanship that characterizes the voting in the House and in the Senate. The noise that flared up has also enlivened the Filipino-Americans in their discussions from the sidelines. So far as it goes, that’s no shocker. It’s still an ideological warfare between the Democrats who are taking up the side of the workers and consumers and the Republicans who are siding with the financiers and capitalists.


The mystery here is in the communal response of the Filipino Americans. It’s still not clear why a lot of them are against the stimulus package. They have joined the Republican naysayers even when their own stakes in an expanding economy are a mile high.  This is bizarre because in the first place, they’re non-ideological, and, second, they’re more driven for mercenary reasons. Yet, they’re zealously supporting the trickle-down economics of the Republicans. This is odd unless the attitude is understood in the light and context of their being usually safely employed in laid-off proof medical-related career. They are supposed to have gained in the work place knowledge and experience working with lazy and whining workers who are taking advantage of the system.


That’s how close you can get understanding Filipino Americans when they say that this stimulus spending bill will undermine rather than help America.  It will benefit mostly the work-unfriendly and abusive welfare recipients. And they say this against the opinion of a whole range of world renowned credible economists who say that generating economic activity is everything. Just cutting taxes will only lead to more loss of government revenue.


Of course, some in the Filipino-American community, just as some Republican members of Congress are suspected of being, are getting their introduction to Economics 101 from Fox News programs and popular radio talk hosts, like Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Rielly and Hannity. They’re the committed ideologues who couldn’t bear seeing Obama’s administration to succeed.


Or maybe, their life-support related job security makes them think of themselves as not your kind of average Americans. There cannot be a better explanation for their not openly welcoming the stimulus bill's tax cuts for 95% percent of all Americans in the form of a tax break of $400 for individuals and $800 for couples. And for big income earners, a group to which Filipino Americans may think they belong, and rightly so, they’ll be benefiting from the $70 billion worth of tax shelters provided for upper middle-class and wealthier taxpayers who would have been otherwise hit by a tax increase. The three Republican Senators who joined the Democrats in voting for the bill insisted for their inclusion as quid pro quo for their support even if the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said they would do relatively little to create jobs.


But what’s really startling with the Filipino-American response to the stimulus bill is their lack of enthusiasm, and surprising indifference, to the little known provision in the package, which provides military veterans benefits to Filipinos who fought alongside the Americans during World War II.  Some Filipino Americans twit the sponsors for putting this program in the bill. They say this benefit will not create jobs and it will not stimulate the economy.  What’s forgotten is their long wait for justice. Being in their late 80s, they’re dying at the attrition rate of about 25% a year.


Instead of thanking the Democratic administration for finally giving the veteranos what has been denied them, at the risk of opening themselves to Republican ideologically-laced and racially underscored partisan attacks, a good many of them prove to be unappreciative, as shown from e-mails being circulated. They say the money will just end up being sent to the Philippines. It’s overlooked that those who are here will be buying groceries, clothing, burial lots, and other final preparations for passing away into the sunset, soon, and the money sent to the Philippines will stimulate spending for things American, like Hollywood movies, for example. # # #


Editor’s Note: To contact the author, who is a practicing attorney in Houston, Texas, please send him an e-mail at or by phone no. 713/988-9888. Atty. Lindio is licensed also to practice law in the Great State of Illinois.


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Last Updated on Monday, 16 February 2009 09:06

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