Thursday, January 29, 2009

Less Than Zero

The Republicans in the House showed us what their version of bi-partisanship last night. Not a single Republican voted for the stimulus package in an amazing show of solidarity. President Obama has gone out of his way to try and reach across the isle for this vote, including making a lunchtime visit to chat with House leaders. The stimulus package includes some $200 Billion in tax cuts, some of which was added after Republicans balked at the initial proposal. Every time the Republicans brought a particular aspect of the package that they didn't like, President Obama made a concession in order to try and appease them. And what did he get for his troubles? ZERO votes! Zero. So not only did he not get a single Republican to vote for the stimulus package, but the country is now stuck with a watered down version of the original proposal. Instead of a package that focuses on putting people back to work through infrastructure projects, we have a plan that includes tax breaks that do not pay immediate dividends in the form of jobs. The Republicans, who have gutted the bill to some extent, can now place the blame fully on the President and the Democratic leadership if the package fails to adequately stimulate the economy.

The President went to the Republicans in a show of good faith. He did not need their votes. The Democrats have unassailable majorities in both houses of Congress and the package can be passed without a single Republican vote. The President made a conscious effort to try and get a consensus and in doing so proved himself a man of his word. During the presidential campaign, he said time and time again that the old ways of Washington would not work going forward. He talked about the things that united us, not the things that divided us. He talked about ushering in a new age of cooperation in Washington. And he backed up those words by doing everything that he could to try and respond to Republican concerns about the Stimulus package. And what did he get for his efforts? Zero votes. The Republican leadership (which had initially complained that there weren't enough tax cuts in the plan, and then complained that there was funding for contraception in the plan, and then complained that the package was too expensive), told their members to vote against the package even before the President showed up. The truth is that there was nothing that the President could have done to convince those Representatives to vote for the package. The Republicans offer no alternative except a continuation of the same financial strategy that has gotten us into this mess but since they are led by the likes of Rush Limbaugh these days, obstructionism is apparently their strategy. I know the President will continue down this road because his goal is to build a consensus. Unfortunately, the people across the aisle are following the Rush Limbaugh mantra of "I hope he fails". The idea of true bipartisanship is a pipe dream.


Jack Jodell said...

There will never be true bipartisanship with this current batch of hardcore, hardass neocons in control of the Republican Party and its congressional caucus. GOP moderates have been weeded out and thinned out to the point where the only thing left is this spoiled crybaby uncooperative bunch of conservative sludge. Obama and the Dems should continue their practice of civility and inclusion, because it's the proper way to conduct government. But they should stop granting these jerks concessions, and just put everything to a vote and steamroll them. These people are standing in the way of progress, just as they tried to do in the 1960s and 1970s. The only difference is that today's GOP is far snottier and has added blatant deceit to their war chest. Time to ignore them as all noisy spoiled brats should be ignored when throwing irrational temper tantrums!

Michael Hew said...

Very true, Jack. It seems that the only people left in the House are hardcore right wing true believers. Just listening to the rhetoric from the Congress and their apparent ideolgical leader Rush Limbaugh is sickening. I really don't see it getting any better any time soon.

Jack Jodell said...

That's why we just have to press on and steamroll them over. We know the vast majority of the country doesn't support their for-the-wealthy-only agenda anyway, and it's already proven to be a recipe for disaster!