Want more proof of the poisonous political atmosphere on Capitol Hill?
Just take a gander at the food fight over today's one-year anniversary of President Barack Obama signing the $787 billion economic stimulus package. Rather than a reasoned analysis of what's working in the recovery package and what needs to be tweaked, we have yet more verbal warfare.
Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco did take the high road somewhat with her statement:
"One year ago, President Obama and Congress took tough action to bring America's economy back from the brink by giving most Americans the fastest and largest middle-class tax cuts in history, creating and saving jobs, and laying the building blocks for long-term prosperity," she said. "At a moment of extraordinary crisis, this Congress and President Obama provided leadership for economic recovery. But our work is far from over. Moving forward, we must build on the success of the Recovery Act, stay focused on creating good-paying jobs for our workers and middle class, and open the doors of opportunity to all Americans."
What she left unsaid is that she was unable to persuade a single Republican in the House to vote for the stimulus. Only a handful of GOP senators broke ranks to support it.
And House Republicans are not letting up their assault, pointing to embarrasing examples of waste in the stimulus and questioning its benefits. "In the year since the Democrats' 'stimulus' program was enacted, over 3 million jobs have been lost, billions of dollars have been wasted, and an unprecedented debt has been passed on to our children - these are not the results that America hoped for. Struggling small business owners, families, and young workers see trillions in debt, on their tab, and still no job creation," Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, the GOP's No. 2 in the House, said in a statement.
After that shot, Cantor and House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio sent a letter to Pelosi and her No. 2, Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, seeking an "open meeting" on jobs and economic growth.
"Though we had different philosophical approaches, it is unfortunate that there was neither a public discussion nor an opportunity for the American people - especially small business owners -- to become more engaged in the discussion. Had there been such a discussion perhaps Congress would have produced a bill that more directly addressed our nation's economic problems," Boehner and Cantor wrote. "Despite our differences, we believe that it is imperative for us to begin discussions and work together toward a shared goal of putting Americans back to work."
But given the slash-and-burn tactics so far, don't hold your breath for that meeting anytime soon.