Obama Barnstorms, While G.O.P. Naps

The nation is facing a deep and deepening economic crisis. Unemployment is rising, foreclosures are up, retail sales are down and people are worried about their future. The federal government must intervene in the economy and do whatever it takes to stimulate economic activity.

And so we are shocked—although perhaps not surprised—that Republicans have decided to come out swinging against Barack Obama’s stimulus package, thereby ignoring the nation’s problems, with the hope of winning political points at a future time. This is precisely the time when both parties should put aside ideology, and no one more so than Republicans from New York State, which is suffering from a declining economy and needs every possible dime of federal aid to sustain our state’s economy. All of New York’s House Republicans voted against the plan, including Long Island’s “maverick” Republican Peter King. Rep. King has aspirations to run for statewide office, so it was curious to see him voting against the interests of his state and putting the party line ahead of his constituents. And is it any wonder that upstate Repubilcans are  a dying breed, given that they, too, voted against the stimulus plan? 

   President Obama’s stimulus package will provide direct help to all New Yorkers. Extending unemployment assistance and providing Medicaid to the unemployed will directly help our health care sector, and relieve the state government of the burden of growing health care expenses. Moreover, the federal stimulus package will provide funds for the road and bridge repairs, and mass transit improvements, that the state direly needs. 

   New York Republicans are pursuing a self-sabotaging course if they truly believe their failure to vigorously support the stimulus package will reflect well on them. Americans don’t take kindly to being held hostage by ideologues bent on making a point at the expense of smart policy. The G.O.P.’s ongoing disdain for the election results of last November is really juvenile.

As Barack Obama said this week at a town meeting in Florida, “Doing nothing is not an option. You didn’t send me to Washington to do nothing.” We trust New York voters will take note of which of our representatives in Washington fought for our best interests, and which used this national crisis as an opportunity to perfect the art of doing nothing.