Back in the fall, when a Republican president and Treasury secretary were pushing an ill-defined, low-oversight bailout of the financial sector (and everything else but the kitchen sink, although the fixtures at Goldman Sachs are probably getting upgraded under TARP), Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was all for it, with great haste. You know, we were running out of time before everything exploded.
Indeed, McConnell praised his big house colleagues for passing a bill loaded with "sweeteners" that would get a recalcitrant House to change its original no vote, saying "I think a good vote coming out of the Senate will certainly be helpful over on the House side."
Now, staring down the possibility of a ready-to-sign stimulus package costing at least $750 billion for President Barack Obama come Jan. 20, McConnell is finally urging a wait-and-see approach:
"What I worry about ... is the haste with which this may be done," McConnell said on ABC's This Week. "This is an enormous bill. Do we want to do it with essentially no hearings, no input ... from Republican senators. I don't think that's a good idea."
Well, good for McConnell, the top Republican in the Senate and a staunch foe of the abridgements to constitutional speech usually praised as "campaign-finance reform." We've been stimulatin' the economy like nobody's business for a long time now, and it's worth calling for a cool-down period before moving into the next phase of the 1,000 fingers Magic Touch. Can we wait for, I don't know, maybe two or three quarters before figuring out the next massive intervention into the U.S. economy?
However, McConnell's change in attitude seems suspiciously unprincipled and mostly partisan. I'm all for divided government (here's hoping it delivers gridlock), but one of the problems with unprincipled pols is that, well, they don't have principles. Which means they will flip the moment they get enough goodies promised them to go one way or the other. And if the experience with the financial sector bailout is any indication, expect the second (and third, and fourth, and so on) bills to be even worse than the awful first draft. And expect McConnell sometime soon to be on the other side of the vote, the one with all those shiny, happy Democrats yapping about how they just guaranteed a car in every pot and two chickens in every garage by funding bullshit infrastructure programs in every ZIP code in the country.