Monday :: Feb 9, 2009

They'll Just Say No

by Steve

The Post notes in a Page One today that the House and Senate GOP feel emboldened by their obstructionism against the economic recovery package. Giddy House Republicans are crowing that by having the whole caucus oppose the package, it puts them months ahead of schedule of where they thought they would be in dealing with a popular president.

You know, a president who focused too much effort in caring one damn bit what they thought about anything.

The more conservative members of the GOP caucus in each house are openly saying that the game plan in dealing with Obama is twofold: oppose everything the Democrats do as being wasteful government spending and infringing on personal liberty; and 2) avoid making it appear they are opposing a popular Obama and instead focus on opposing congressional Democrats. The GOP conservatives plan to simply oppose everything, whereas the few remaining moderates among the caucuses know the GOP has to do more than say "no" to everything or risk becoming irrelevant. But until Obama openly says what he supports and how that links into what the Democratic agenda is, the GOP may get away with this because the White House has done so little to fashion a focused Democratic economic recovery plan.

Ideally, the White House would have put forward a stimulus package focused on short-term, job-producing measures and targeted tax cuts and assistance for homeowners and consumers, and told House Democrats that this is what they wanted. And ideally, it would have provided a large down payment of several hundred billion dollars towards our infrastructure deficit, and a large state assistance package to mitigate drastic budget cutting in state capitals, thereby getting governors of both parties behind it. It would have been lethal for the GOP to oppose a focused package that clearly had the White House support early on, but they never had to because the White House was AWOL. Yet Pelosi said Sunday that the House bill was what Obama wanted, although I am not certain that Obama wanted all the unrelated spending in the bill. Pelosi says that she'll continue to make the case that the monies cut from the draft Senate proposal by the "moderates" (with Obama's apparent support) will cost the states and us 600,000 jobs (as Krugman himself noted over the weekend.)

But if you now know that your opponents' entire game plan is to "just say no", you have a huge opening to not only take advantage of their obstructionism, but to also clearly align your party with progress and getting something done that actually gets people back to work. To do that however, you have to be willing to demonize the more conservative elements of the GOP without worrying about how that affects your cherished bipartisanism. The GOP conservatives openly talk about driving a wedge between the White House and congressional Democrats. Obama will only be successful if he gets there first by driving a wedge between conservatives in both houses and everyone else, and calling them out for being willing to let the country rot to please an extremist fringe.

Steve :: 4:21 AM :: Comments (18) :: Digg It!