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Jun 02nd
Home Columns The Way I See It The “Dr. No” of Our Time
The “Dr. No” of Our Time PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - The Way I See It
Sunday, 01 March 2009 04:18

Y ou may remember the arch villain "Dr. No" if you were young in the 1960s, and looking for excitement in the movie houses. He was the cool, genius-looking rouge scientist, who lived on an island where James Bond met Ursula Andres.  He tortured and eventually killed those who crossed him. As to why he was named "Dr. No," we can only guess. Perhaps, he was just scripted to have a Chinese-sounding name. Yet, everyone in that decade, even down to the present, gets called “Dr. No,” if all he could say is the negative “No” or if has got nothing good or constructive to say to any idea.


The Republican Party leaders of today are custom-tailored to fit the literal meaning of Dr. No. When President Barrack Hussein Obama finally got his stimulus plan passed in Congress, only three GOP senators broke ranks from the almost-unanimous Republican resounding "No" to the rescue package, but only after getting their pound of flesh.  This was followed by a parade of Republicans being invited on TV talk shows, where the airwaves were riddled with their “No, no, no” incantation.  Another round of “No, no, no” greeted the President’s presentation of how to fix the ailing economy before a joint session in Congress.


W hat’s prompting these series of “No, no, no” is not hard to find. It’s all about ideology, politics, power and a mortal fear of being politically marginalized or, even, neutered.

The Republicans fielded the young, Asian-descended, governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal, to give the party’s response to the President’s speech. In America, the opposition is given a chance to make a response to a President’s address. But in this task of making a mountain out of a "No," his policy riposte was not up to the job of discrediting or demolishing altogether the President’s plan.  Not at all his fault, however, because there’s only so much you can do, if  you only have to say “No, no, no.” On the other hand, the President’s rescue plan was packaged by the ablest minds of the country, who were asked to come together and jump start the stalled American economy.


Governor Jindal’s handiwork bombed out, but the Republicans were ready the next time around. When Mr. Obama unveiled later the details of his comprehensive budget plan last Thursday (February 26th), for the fiscal year beginning October of this year, they were on every medium, collectively and individually. Their script was to keep on shooting “No, no, no” at the Obama plan, while interspersing tax cut, tax cut, tax cut, at every interval.


Paul Krugman, the 2008 Nobel Prize laureate in economics, points out the belief that Bush's tax cuts successfully stimulated the economy is a form of mythology.

These incorrigible nay-sayers, along with their apostles in the Filipino-American community, are swarming all over the place, rebuffing President Obama’s plan, and calling it as nothing better than a liberal spending spree plan.


But what really is the Republican alternative to President Obama's plan of action to stabilize the ship of state, left listing, when it was turned over to him by his predecessor?  Of course, we know they're as much interested to keep it sailing again. But “The way,” according to Governor Jindal, “is not to raise taxes and put more money and power in the hands of Washington politicians," which in the context of his speech, means the federal government. This mantra is characteristically and traditionally Republican. It consists of tax cuts, less government, letting the free market adjust itself and individual effort.


Then Governor Jindal delivered a karate-punch. He charged the Democratic congressional leaders of passing the largest government-spending bill in history that  “includes $300-million to buy new cars for the government, $8-billion for high-speed rail projects, such as a ‘magnetic levitation’ line from Las Vegas to Disneyland, and $140-million for something called ‘volcano monitoring.”


In short, it’s “No, no, no” to high speed trains; “No, no, no” to the plan of buying new high-gas mileage cars; “No, no, no” to monitoring volcanic activity. With all the “No, no, no” slogan  the Republicans will end up saying “No, no, no” to hiring more American workers, “No, no, no” to helping our steel-and-automotive industries and “No, no, no” to saving lives otherwise lost in volcanic eruptions.


Strangely enough, our fellow Asian-American governor of Louisiana, made fun of Obama’s initiative to monitor volcanoes. He's talking as if he does not come from a state that is a tourist destination, not only of fun lovers but also of visiting natural calamities. Apparently, also, no Republican has heard of volcanic devastations in places like the States of Washington, Hawaii, and Alaska? Folks, these volcanoes are real, not Mr. Obama inventions.


And their Filipino-American apostles are not far behind. They have not been missing their Fox News programs and talk shows, either. Just a few days ago, I read an e-mail, and heard Republican friends, joking about volcanic eruptions. It put me wondering if they forgot altogether Mt. Pinatubo, Hibok-Hibok, Mayon and Mt. Krakatua (in Indonesia).  Along with the indifferent governor of Louisiana, and the rest of the nay-saying Republicans, they all appear detached from reality. And they’re looking childish and foolish.


Now let’s take on Governor Jindal’s claim that the better alternative to Obama's plan is to cut taxes. That’s a Republican battle cry. As documented by Bernie Horne, a blogger, he found that just cutting taxes never worked. George W. Bush said in a radio address in March 2001 that tax cuts were needed to “give the economy a second wind.” In 2003, he assured that his tax cuts would “fuel an economic recovery," and bragged, for good effect: "We have taken aggressive action to strengthen the foundation of our economy so that every American who wants to work will be able to find a job."


But it was all self-delusional. Horne quoted the American Progress Senior Fellows Christian Weller and John Halpin. They “noted in 2006, [that] the outcome of the 2001 tax cuts was “the weakest employment growth in decades.” The 2003 tax cuts didn't fare much better, either. Job creation was “well below historical averages” When Bush's White House proposed the 2003 cuts, they promised that it would add 5.5-million new jobs between June 2003 and the end of 2004. But "by the end of 2004, there were only 2.6-million more jobs than in June 2003."


As Paul Krugman, the 2008 Nobel Prize laureate in economics, has pointed out, the belief that Bush's tax cuts successfully stimulated the economy is a form of mythology. Unfortunately, the supply-side myth that tax cuts cure all still lives today, as conservatives objected to the progressive approaches in fixing the mess left behind by Mr. Bush.


* Editor’s Note: The author is a practicing lawyer in Houston, Texas. He is also licensed to practice law in Illinois. To contact him, please e-mail or call him up at (713) 988-9888.


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