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Gary Horton: Who’s the real sap?

Full Speed to Port!

Posted: February 17, 2009 11:35 p.m.
Updated: February 18, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Gary Horton Gary Horton
Gary Horton
"We lost, so we're taking our bats and balls and going home! And there's nothing you can do to make us come back!"

In the spirit of adolescent dirt-lot baseball, this past Sunday's Signal featured Congressman Buck McKeon towing the defeatist Republican Party line against the economic stimulus bill.

It seems Republican enforcers Chairman Michael Steele and Minority Whip Eric Cantor put out marching orders to slander the bill - and Buck dutifully followed his political masters instead of his constituents' interests.

President Obama had reached out his hands far and wide to Republicans, hoping to build this important bill into a unity accomplishment.

But instead of accepting Obama's hand of bipartisanship, Republican leaders spat on it, having incomprehensibly concluded that the Republican Party could best regain relevance during our economic crisis by being nasty and obstinate.

Later asked if he would try again with Republicans, Obama remarked, "You know, I am an eternal optimist. That doesn't mean I'm a sap."

Meanwhile, back at The Signal, Buck's arms and hands waved around, pulled by strings controlled by masters hidden behind congressional curtains.

Buck's mouth says Democratic evildoers are selling out righteous conservative principles, "just as we said they would." Buck's lips move, saying "Everything about the bill is bad medicine."

Jaw bouncing up and down, Buck speaks that the whole thing stunk and Republicans fully washed their righteous hands from the mess.

Congressional Republicans were taking their bats and balls and ditching the game. Sure enough, when the votes came down, not a single Republican congressman out of 178 voted for the stimulus.

Spoiled, whiny sports - that's what they are. Sore losers. Grumbling bumblers.

How beneficial to have such diverse, independent thinkers during our time of complex challenge! Despite most Republican districts being in the toilet or long since flushed, not one Republican congressman mustered courage nor cause to vote yes on the stimulus bill bringing needed relief to their own constituents.

And this, while their counterpart Republican governors across the country clamored for passage!
Republican puppets played politics over public service on this vote. Despite their harsh trip to the woodshed last election, Republican congressmen are still controlled by party puppeteers hog-tying them from voting their independent consciences.

Indeed, GOP Party Leader Michael Steele congratulated the group-think automaton Republicans on "that goose egg you laid on the president's desk." Now that's putting "country first!"

Like Limbaugh, do these Republicans-on-a-string want our popular president to fail? At what cost to constituents and country will they continue to pursue their "party first" agenda?

Ironically, despite McKeon's dereliction of duty, Santa Clarita fairs nicely from the stimulus. Much of what Buck wanted is indeed in the bill he opposed.

Help for our beloved auto row? It's in there. You can now deduct the sales tax on your next car purchase. That's like a $1,000 spiff towards your next car purchase.

Help for our well-heeled upper-middle-classers? No thanks to Buck, you marble-on-your-floor types just dodged the Alternative Minimum Tax and will save $5,000 to $10,000 on your April tax bill.

And regular Joes get an $800 tax credit. Your Republican congressmen tried to take that away from you.

I've noticed there's been much hand-wringing about the decline of Santa Clarita's public schools, and how more and more affluent parents are opting for private schools in the area.

Now, with California's own budget on the rocks, the Hart district is staring down a $30 million shortfall that will gut your kid's education even worse! Goodbye, sports programs. Adios, music and arts programs. Hello, half-school days.

Are you ready to suffer a cut-rate, chopped-down education for your "pride of the family" because of "Republican principles"?

Buck and company's no vote would have sealed the sorry deal on a declining education for your kids.

But thanks to Obama and the majority Democrats, the stimulus bill they just passed with zero Republican congressional votes includes $50 billion for state aid - much of it aimed directly at protecting public education from the cutbacks threatening your child's education.

Mr. and Mrs. Santa Clarita Republican hockey parents - when your kids still have a full schedule and their favorite teacher at the front of the class next year, send a big thumbs down Bucks's way, and a big thumbs up to our young but caring President Obama.

After the rocky vote, President Obama called out Republican congressmen for their bad faith. "I ... think that there was a decision made, where (Republican leaders) said, ‘If we can enforce conformity among our ranks, then it will invigorate our base and will potentially give us some political advantage either short-term or long-term."

Obama further quipped, "Whether that's a smart strategy, I think you should ask them."

So, with the stimulus bill now passed and help on the way to hundreds of millions of grateful citizens, who's looking like the sap?

My advice to our congressman and his party is if the want to play ball, if they want to regain relevance, then they'd best return to the field, ready to play an honest game with their best efforts. And the name of that game is "Serve the People."

Nobody likes sore losers. Sore losers are saps.

Gary Horton lives in Valencia. His column reflects his own views, not necessarily those of The Signal. "Full Speed to Port" appears Wednesdays in The Signal.


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