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Something for What?

By Matthew Yglesias  

"Something for What?"

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The Decemberists “The Bagman’s Gambit” is a noteworthy recent DC-located song. But it reveals a certain unfamiliarity with the details of District life:

And I recall that fall
I was working for the government
And in a bathroom stall off the National Mall
How we kissed so sweetly
How could I refuse a favor or two
For a tryst in the greenery?

Realistically, there’s not that much greenery around the National Mall and no bathrooms. It’s a piece of federal infrastructure, in other words, that could use an upgrade. And it’s a “shovel-ready project.” And money spent on doing the project would provide people jobs and offer some stimulus to the economy. So the House of Representatives including Mall refurbishment funds in their stimulus bill. But know-nothing conservatives decided that fixing up important national landmarks sounds funny, so they’ve spent a week mocking the idea. And instead of punching bask and asking if the right-wing intends to just let the whole country fall apart for the sake of a sound byte, the Obama administration is backing down and getting the provision removed.

As with the family planning issue, the question is what have they gotten in return? Thus far, I don’t see any concrete indication that they’ve gotten anything. But they do seem to be setting up an expectation whereby right-wing talk radio gets veto power over the details of national legislation. Is whatever they arbitrarily choose to criticize going to be stripped out of every bill for four years?

‹ Geithner and Summers Against Nationalization

The Wrath of Rush ›

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