In our simple quarters on a sprawling yet empty Army post, we didn’t have many pictures on the walls. We had one of Cardinal Cushing. Other than his place as a prince of the church, I don’t know why he was there.
We also had one of two brothers, completely and utterly unrelated to us, though they shared a common background — Jack and Bobby Kennedy.
So it was with no small interest I watched the U.S. Senate special election results for the seat once held by the late Ted Kennedy.
The voters of Massachusetts — derisively known as “Taxachusetts,” even by its own residents — ran up a battle flag that should be heeded by the politicians in the nation’s capital.
The price tag on an awkward, poorly-thought out and poorly-executed stimulus, the staggering costs and expected results of a health care reform package and a lack of transparency and cooperation that was promised just a year ago but has failed to surface — all were evident as Bay State voters sent Scott Brown to fill the seat where the liberal “Lion of the Senate” sat for two generations.
But even President Obama’s top advisers don’t think that Massachusetts voters are repudiating his policies and agenda. Said David Axelrod to MSNBC: “There is a general sense of discontent about the economy.”
And why do you think that is? Maybe because there was a nearly $787 billion stimulus package that, even by design, was not supposed to be fully implemented this year — meanwhile, unemployment, predicted not to break the 8 percent barrier has smashed through the 10 percent level and has stayed there.
When President Obama took office, he offered to work with Republicans. Yet in the spirit of outsourcing, he turned over the stimulus package to Congressional Democrats and only when it was finished, asked Republicans for their blessing on it. Their input was not sought.
We also were guaranteed transparency in governing — yet the negotiations between House and Senate Democrats on the health care reform measure will take place behind closed doors, away from the sunlight of the public.
And how bad is the stimulus? Sen. Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican and doctor by trade, has come up with the 100 top mind-boggling boondoggles from the stimulus. In Wisconsin, more than three dozen seldom-used rural bridges are getting stimulus-funded work, over the more than 1,200 bridges found to be structurally deficient. The John Murtha Airport in Pennsylvania sees about 20 passengers a day. Yet it got $800,000 in stimulus money. South Carolina got $1.7 million to restore 15 acres of oyster reefs.
There’s plenty of infrastructure work that needs to be done, from roads and highways and bridges to sewer and water lines. Perhaps some of this ill-spent stimulus money should be directed to those needs, whether they are shovel ready or not.
The president recently has pushed a long-overdue move, not allowing firms that are delinquent in taxes to compete for government contracts. But it’s a hollow victory in a tsunami of rising debt and spending.
But Republicans ought not to start popping champagne corks yet. This is no time for them to party like it’s 1994. They ought to take heed from the rebuke voters handed to them beginning in 2006 — they couldn’t even govern themselves.
The voters in Massachusetts had one clear message, one that is percolating through the electorate — cut it out and get to work. If it’s broken, fix it. If it’s not broken, leave it be.
Let’s see if anyone is listening.