Friday :: Feb 6, 2009

A Failed Bipartisanhip

by Steve

The reports coming out tonight indicate that a deal on the economic recovery package has been reached in the Senate, and that a vote will take place by Sunday night to get the measure over to the House to begin the conference committee process. But even after letting the "center out" process run the show these last several days, the White House is finding out that Susan Collins and Ben Nelson, along with support from Arlen Specter and Joe Lieberman, fashioned an allegedly "moderate compromise" that whacked education and community support monies from the draft Senate proposal, while leaving in most of the tax breaks and gimmicks, and actually adding defense money.

Yes, that's a "moderate" stimulus bill. A bill, according to John Kerry tonight, that is now made up of 58% stimulus spending and 42% tax cuts. That's right, 42% tax cuts.

And yet this compromise will reportedly only garner 2-3 GOP votes to get past a 60-vote obstacle on waiving Budget Act requirements. So after tossing aside education and community support funds, and swallowing a bill with 42% of failed economic dogma from the last 14 years, Senate Democrats and President Obama are rewarded with a kick in the nuts from both Republican caucuses in Congress. This is what bipartisanship brought the Democrats.

Barack Obama has a choice to make now, a choice he and his rhetoric never anticipated having to make this early, or at all. Option A is to run the country through the moderate caucus in both houses, knowing that this means much more of the status quo than he ever imagined during his heady days of bashing Hillary Clinton and running on "change you can believe in." In doing so, does he alienate his own base in the House now by ramming an economic recovery bill too heavy on failed tax cuts and way too light on stimulus spending to work, just to score a victory for bipartisanship?

Option B starts with getting angry that after all the work to listen to GOP critics and give them 42% in tax cuts, he only got 2-3 votes for a package that fails on jobs and infrastructure spending. He hunkers down and steels himself to run the country through his base in permanent campaign mode, picking off GOP votes issue-by-issue like his predecessor. He uses his skills, popularity, poll numbers, and skills to shame and demonize the congressional GOP caucuses for stalling the economic recovery package into March, as the economy slips closer to the cliff. But he makes the big play to get a stimulus package built on job creation that most economists say can work, while burying the GOP for being the obstructionists they are.

Which way will he go? Does he have the stomach for the second alternative?

Steve :: 10:05 PM :: Comments (11) :: Digg It!