Feb 182009
Authors: Caleb Thornton

As I pointed out last week, I believe that the stimulus package passed by Congress and signed by the president just this week in Denver is a huge mistake in policy.

Obviously, lawmakers did not take valid concerns too seriously, choosing instead to pass this legislation and defy my always sound, solid and all-too-logical fiscal advice.

There are so many people to blame (or thank, however you choose to look at it) for passing this massive government spending spree that I just don’t know where to start.

I guess you could always start at the top — this was President Barack Obama’s first real piece of legislation after all, and it was his office that rushed it through Congress.

You could blame Congressional Democrats for simply rubber stamping the President’s bill without taking any real time to consider what it actually might mean to the country.

You could also blame the last eight years of Republican leadership. Let’s face it — it was their failure that led the American public to vote the way they did in the past election. Elections do have consequences after all, and the consequence in this case has meant one-party rule and a mandate for Democrats to do whatever they want, whenever they want, however they want.

Personally, however, I think the choice is pretty clear. The real person to blame in all of this is Henry Clay.

I know it sounds crazy, but let’s take a look back at history, and I think you’ll see where I am coming from.

In 1820, Clay, a U.S. Senator at the time, worked to settle a dispute between the North and South over the admission of Missouri to the Union as either a slave state or free state. The problem was, both sides were equal in representation in the Senate at the time — in 11 states slavery was legal, and in 11 states slavery remained illegal.

And so Clay, being the, “great compromiser” that he was, pushed for a compromise — Missouri would be admitted as a slave state if Maine were admitted as a free state. The idea stuck and became the legislation that we know today as the Missouri Compromise.

While it has been considered a great compromise between North and South that helped avert outright civil war for decades to come, what Clay never considered was the unintended consequence that admitting the state of Maine might bring to the U.S. 189 long years later.

You see, out of that state we have been blessed with a few “great compromisers” of our own in the likes of Sen. Susan Collins and Sen. Olympia Snowe.

With the exception of their counterpart, Sen. Arlen Specter, these Maine natives have the distinct privilege of being the only Republicans (though I am not sure how they can truly be considered as such at this point) to vote in favor of the recent stimulus bill, and by doing so removing any possibility of forcing more concessions from the president with the threat of a filibuster looming.

Had these senators simply stuck to their guns, at least feigned some opposition to the bill, and not sold out their own party, we may have seen a very different bill being signed by the president.

Instead, we are stuck with a government spending spree that will do little to boost the economy, but much to boost the budget deficit.

So if you’re looking for someone to blame in this whole mess but just can’t decide who’s fault it really is, then look no further than Henry Clay — it was his compromise that put Maine on the map, and Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe in the Senate.

And to think he was such a nice guy …

Caleb Thornton is a senior political science major. His column appears Thursdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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