Republican Partisanship On The Stimulus

I’ve noted in several recent posts, such as here, that the Republicans are primarily concerned with opposing whatever Obama does for partisan political reasons. Arlen Specter confirms this:

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), who broke with his party to support President Obama’s stimulus package last week, said before the final vote Friday that more of his colleagues would have joined were they not afraid of the political consequences.

“When I came back to the cloak room after coming to the agreement a week ago today,” said Specter, “one of my colleagues said, ‘Arlen, I’m proud of you.’ My Republican colleague said, ‘Arlen, I’m proud of you.’ I said, ‘Are you going to vote with me?’ And he said, ‘No, I might have a primary.’ And I said, ‘Well, you know very well I’m going to have a primary.'”

Specter, along with centrist Maine Republican Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, joined with Democrats last week to move the stimulus bill forward. Specter said he doubted there would be any more Republican votes than those three Friday night.

“I think there are a lot of people in the Republican caucus who are glad to see this action taken without their fingerprints, without their participation,” he said.

Specter was asked, How many of your colleagues?

“I think a sizable number,” he said. “I think a good part of the caucus agrees with the person I quoted, but I wouldn’t want to begin to speculate on numbers.”

Despite all their talk, Republicans have no real devotion to fiscal responsibility or reducing spending. Republicans certainly didn’t complain when Bush ran up a huge deficit and squandering the surplus. Bush paid for an unnecessary war on credit. If we must increase debt, I’d far rather see it be done to improve the infrastructure and (hopefully) stimulate the economy and get us out of this recession.

As I noted earlier, this is not only about the stimulus package. Republicans hope that Obama fails regardless of the issue. Some are saying that Obama wasted his breath trying to work with the Republicans. In some ways I think Obama outsmarted the Republicans on this. While he certainly wanted more Republican support in Congress, obtaining support from Republican members of Congress is not the primary reason for making attempts at bipartisanship. Obama’s victory came with the support of many independents and people who have voted Republican in the past.

By taking the high road, Obama solidifies his support among these voters, while if he tried to replicate the Bush strategy of governing with 50% plus one he might have driven some of these voters away. By showing no interest in bipartisan governing, the Republicans have greatly reduced their chances of ever getting back the voters who left them in 2006 and 2008.

Here’s a simple thought experiment. If there was a magic button which a politician could push (without anyone knowing it) which would lead to a worsening of the economic situation for a couple of years resulting in political harm to Obama, does anyone really think that more than a handful of Republicans would resist pushing that button? If there was a button which would cause the economy to quickly recover, but also lead to increased political popularity for Obama, does anyone doubt that the Republicans would be coming up with a bunch of scare stories to try to keep anyone from pushing that button?

Be Sociable, Share!

3 Comments

  1. 1
    DB says:

    Once again politicians put politics before principle.

  2. 2
    James Dow Allen says:

    Several years ago, as an engineer who did not
    read newspapers, I’d have thought the following to be the writing of a left-wing conspiracy nut:
    > If there was a magic button which a politician could
    > push (without anyone knowing it) which would lead to a
    > worsening of the economic situation for a couple of years
    > … does anyone really think that more than a handful of
    > Republicans would resist pushing that button?
    But today, I’ve no doubt Republican “leaders” would push the button (and no doubt that 11 Sept was the happiest day of Dick Cheney’s life).  I had great respect for the Republicans of my youth, even Barry Goldwater.  Today, the GOP is an abomination.

  3. 3
    Ron Chusid says:

    I wouldn’t go so far as to accuse Dick Cheney of being happy about the 9/11 attack, but the Republicans certainly decided to play politics and take advantage of the attack.

    There certainly is a huge difference between Barry Goldwater and the current Republicans. Not many current Republicans would criticize the influence of the religious right as Goldwater did, and they would have urged Richard Nixon to fight on as opposed to resigning for the good of the country as Goldwater did.

1 Trackbacks

Leave a comment