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Republicans' Bizarre Collective Response to Obama's Economic Recovery Plan: We're Out to Lunch

The economy is in freefall and the House GOP just stood back, making ridiculous ideological speeches about socialism.

Ed. Note: The following is the transcript of Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman's interview with author William Greider after Barack Obama's stimulus package passed in the House of Congress.

Amy Goodman: The House approved an $819 billion stimulus package Wednesday, marking one of the most expensive pieces of legislation ever to move through Congress. Despite an all-out lobbying push by President Obama, the bill passed without a single Republican vote. Eleven Democrats also opposed the measure.

The Los Angeles Times says the package is “the largest attempt since World War II to use the federal budget to redirect the course of the nation’s economy.” The two-year stimulus plan totals $275 billion in tax cuts and nearly $545 billion in domestic spending. It would provide up to $1,000 per year in tax relief for most families, increase funding for alternative energy production, and direct more than $300 billion in aid to states to help rebuild schools, provide healthcare to the poor and reconstruct highways and bridges.

House Republicans argued the bill tilted heavily toward new spending instead of tax cuts and that it would do little to stimulate the economy. This is Georgia Republican Paul Broun.

    Rep. Paul Broun: I see this as a huge leap toward socialism as a nation. It’s creating new government programs, it’s creating new government jobs, that don’t have any sunlight to those programs, to those jobs. It expands programs that are already there. It further -- some of the tax relief, I believe and hope the gentlemen will agree with me, actually just furthers through the refundable tax credits a dependency upon government. My friend Star Parker had wrote a book one time that she called Uncle Sam’s Plantation . And what this does is it economically enslaves people. And that’s what we see happening.

Goodman: President Obama hailed the passage of the legislation and made no mention of the unanimous Republican opposition. He will now turn his attention to the Senate, where Democrats are scheduled to begin debate on the measure on Monday and the price tag is likely to reach $900 billion.

Hours before yesterday’s House vote, President Obama told a group of about a hundred business leaders that Congress must not delay efforts to restart the economy and put people back to work.

    President Barack Obama: The businesses that are shedding jobs to stay afloat, they can’t afford inaction or delay. The workers who are returning home to tell their husbands and wives and children that they no longer have a job and all those who live in fear that their job will be next on the cutting blocks, they need help now. They are looking to Washington for action, bold and swift. And that is why I hope to sign an American recovery and reinvestment plan into law in the next few weeks.

    And most of the money that we’re investing as part of this plan will get out the door immediately and go directly to job creation, generating or saving three to four million new jobs. And the vast majority of these jobs will be created in the private sector, because, as these CEOs well know, business, not government, is the engine of growth in this country.

Goodman: Obama’s comments come at a time when the economy that is losing more than half a million jobs a month, including more than 65,000 layoffs announced just this week.

William Greider joins us now, the national affairs correspondent for The Nation magazine; the author of several books, including The Soul of Capitalism: Opening Paths to a Moral Economy and One World, Ready or Not: The Manic Logic of Global Capitalism . His forthcoming book is called Come Home, America: The Rise and Fall (and Redeeming Promise) of Our Country. He joins us in our firehouse studio. ...