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Posted by on Feb 4, 2009 in At TMV | 23 comments

The Bipartisan Fiasco

Public support for the President’s stimulus package is fading fast. And the reason should be obvious to the people in his new Administration but clearly isn’t. The plan’s popularity is a victim of bipartisanism.

Obama was elected because of a single word: Change. The public wanted change. Big change in a host of fields. That was what everyone who listened to the public with anything like an open mind was hearing. But the perpetuators of conventional wisdom in Washington, in the Democratic Party and the media, somehow heard something else. What they heard was that what the public really wanted was more cooperation between Democrats and Republicans.

It should have been obvious, even to the conventional wisdom crowd after not a single Republican in the House supported a Democratic stimulus plan, that the Republicans didn’t want to play. They didn’t want to step aside and let the winners of the election govern freely. They certainly didn’t want to admit that they were the ones who brought about the present crisis with their economic nostrums, and that it was time for a genuinely new approach.

Once that became crystal clear, the Democrats in the Senate and White House should have shrugged and said: O.K. You want us to push things through the way you did during the first six years of the Bush Administration, fine. And then gotten the Democratic bill on the President’s desk pronto.

Whether going the bipartisan route in the Senate will make a slightly better stimulus package or not is questionable. What isn’t questionable is that by focusing on bipartisanship it has been the Republicans that have gotten almost all the airing in the media for their views and denunciations of the Democrats. An even graver loss to the Democrats and the country as a whole is the loss of people’s faith in firm, determined and decisive leadership from the White House.

Bipartisanism up. Leadership and the aura of real change down. Not a very good tradeoff in my book.

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Copyright 2009 The Moderate Voice
  • CStanley

    You may want to do a reality check by looking at the polling data on the bill.

    While you’re at it, check out Congress’ approval ratings, vs. Obama’s. Or specifically compare Pelosi’s to Obama’s. If he would prefer to lower his approval rating to match hers, he’ll start following your advice.

    You’re right that ‘change’ meant different things to different people, but the facts disprove your view of which type of change was the predominant sentiment.

  • Silhouette

    Look. As the pendulum has swung wildly causing much damage in its sweep the last eight years, we need right now a firm hand to snag it and stop it in the center. The last thing we need just at the moment is to let it swing wildly back in the other direction and cause all sorts of fiscal damage from shortsided touchy-feely legislating geared towards equally ridiculous special-interest groups on the left.

    Special interest is what’s killing us. We have a patient on the table that has “coded”. Instead of worrying about what type of wallpaper to put on the OR room he’s in, or if he wants a pedicure or a hair cut or a vase of flowers in the window, we should be juicing up the paddles and yelling “CLEAR” and hitting this dying economy with a sure and focused jolt or two.

    Then you can come in once the bleep bleep bleep of a revived patient is heard and put your flowers in the window and whatnot. (For the GOP, you can wait till he’s discharged to send him a heap of overpriced health bills until he wants to commit suicide). You know, whatever the bent of your party happens to be with respect to America. : )

  • casualobserver

    Mr. Silverstein, notwithstanding all your words of deflection and obfuscation, provide a yes or no answer to the following question……..did the Speaker of the House allow Republican access to the drafting session or allow floor amendments?

  • ljm

    Thank you for bringing reason into the debate, Michael.

  • elrod

    Here’s my view on it.

    There is one chance to alter the stimulus bill in the Senate and get it right. Squeeze out some of the long-term spending provisions that really aren’t even a “down-payment” on future growth. If that still won’t get to 60, then go with Michael Silverstein’s option.

    90% of the Republicans have been bargaining in bad faith. They have no desire to see any stimulus pass at all, except as a remake of the Bush tax cuts. 10% – enough to pass the legislation – of Republicans are serious and non-supply side ideologues. Of course, Republican governors are realistic too – the best argument I’ve seen for the stimulus came from Charlie Crist.

    The worst possible outcome is to gut the whole thing as it will completely destroy any momentum this election has created.

    I’d rather have a stimulus bill with lots of pork in it than no stimulus bill at all.

  • CStanley

    90% of the Republicans have been bargaining in bad faith.
    And you know this, how? Besides, how can they even be accused of that when no bargaining even occurred in the House?

    I’d rather have a stimulus bill with lots of pork in it than no stimulus bill at all.
    Why?

  • DLS

    This bill, strong-armed through the House by Democrats, is disfavored by most people in this country because of its nature, even more than by how it was passed. Even other Democrats realize this is a bad bill, passed in a bad way, and at least some of them, unlike in the House, are willing to even work with Republicans. Not the “bi-partisanship” Silverstein and so many others on this “moderate” [sic] site would prefer (and do prefer as a definition of the word), doing it the Democrats’ way or being left out. Synonymous with “change,” I suppose, both of which we have seen, for the worse, in the House.

    Maybe Silverstein is one of the more-childish libs who is still angry that Obama and the Senate aren’t all goose-stepping to the House Dems’ militant tune, or aren’t rewarding “progressives.”

  • CStanley

    This paragraph was especially funny:
    It should have been obvious, even to the conventional wisdom crowd after not a single Republican in the House supported a Democratic stimulus plan, that the Republicans didn’t want to play. They didn’t want to step aside and let the winners of the election govern freely.

    I’m sure that Silverstein would have written something similar when the Democrats didn’t support the agenda of Bush and wouldn’t support Republican bills in Congress. They didn’t want to play! They didn’t want to step aside and let the winners of the election govern freely!

    C’mon, give it a rest. How can you even write stuff like that without feeling embarrassed?

  • Davebo

    “did the Speaker of the House allow Republican access to the drafting session or allow floor amendments?”

    A Democratic amendment that would add $25 billion in highway and transit projects failed, and a Republican amendment to remove a provision for $246 million in tax breaks for Hollywood passed. The GOP allowed an amendment that augmented funding to the National Institute of Health by $6.5 billion. Another provision added $11 billion to the bill in tax breaks for car buyers.

    A cursory investigation shows that a minimum of 89 amendments to the bill have been considered to date but there could be even more.

  • JSpencer

    I believe an earlier comment from Silhouette is correct, the only thing the right seems to understand is power, not cooperation.

  • DLS

    “The worst possible outcome is to gut the whole thing as it will completely destroy any momentum this election has created. ”

    What the Democrats in the House is inexcuseable. And it was Obama who won, not they. And in fact, this election was a rejection of the GOP, not a wholehearted approval of the Democrats, much less those in the House and their ridiculous levels of feel-good fool-vote-buying. At least the early-disappointed “progressives” who were the dreamiest voters have faced reality now that Obama has formed his Cabinet (at least, keeping those he can, who can’t leave due to scandalous behavior, even when Obama cuts ethical corners and fails to conduct serious background checks of his top people — unless it’s all an act and he tried but failed to slip these people by awake people) and has to put economic concerns before any far-left fluffiness.

    “I’d rather have a stimulus bill with lots of pork in it than no stimulus bill at all.”

    Is that why you reflexively, instinctively called it “a good bill” earlier, too? Are you one of those whose vote is trying to (easily) be bought?

  • CStanley

    Davebo- those are the negotiations ongoing in the Senate- the question was whether there was any negotiation with the House Republicans (or even the Blue Dog Democrats who were unhappy with Nancy’s bill.)

  • CStanley

    JSpencer- you left off that we’re unpatriotic and we hate America.

  • DLS

    “How can you even write stuff like that without feeling embarrassed?”

    He may actually believe as well as imagine it. It’s commonplace, sadly.

  • JSpencer

    CS, of course I don’t believe that hate America meme (a nasty pejorative that originated from the right long ago), but I do believe there are people who are far too in love with their unproductive ideologies. Cooperation and bipartisanship have to be more than just words or it’s only gridlock and the continuing downwardly mobile status quo that kicked into high gear on the GOP’s last watch.

  • CStanley

    Cooperation and bipartisanship have to be more than just words

    Correct. But that choice is completely up to the majority party. There are also times when it’s fine for the majority party to choose not to do that- but when they do so, they can’t also whine about the noncooperation from the minority party.

  • Davebo

    Ok CStanley, how about these?
    Neugebauer (TX): #109
    Would strike the appropriations provisions from the bill.

    Flake (AZ): #132
    Would strike funding for Amtrak.

    Shuster (PA): #95
    Would clarify that federal funds received by States under the bill for highway maintenance shall not be used to replace existing funds in place for transportation projects.

    Camp (MI)/Cantor (VA): #195
    Would strike everything after enacting clause and adds income tax rate deductions for bottom two income tax brackets, alternative minimum tax relief, small business deduction, bonus depreciation, small business expensing, expanded carryback of net operating losses, improved home buyer credit, unemployment benefit tax exemption, health insurance premium deduction, repeal of 3 percent withholding requirement for government contractors, extension of unemployment benefits, and a Sense of Congress against tax increases to offset outlays.

    Or these?

    he House Appropriations Committee approved a stimulus bill on Thursday with two key amendments. Rep. Ken Calvert successfully added an amendment that would extend E-Verify for five years. Rep. Jack Kingston successfully added another amendment that would require any contractors awarded work through stimulus money to verify the employment eligibility of their workers through E-Verify.

  • casualobserver

    CS,

    This whole “Republicans are not acting bipartisanly” meme has existed for an entire week and there has no been a single solitary acknowledgement from the left of who started acted partisanly. Obama, to his sole credit amongst the ranks of 50,000,000 Democrats, at least seems to subtly acknowledge that PELOSI was the instigator.

    The partisan horse was launched from the barn by Pelosi and sent running around the track. The lefties would now expect us to acknowledge that since the Republicans aren’t killing themselves to run around the track after Pelosi’s horse, that Republicans are acting non- bi-partisanly.

  • CStanley

    Davebo: well, at least a few GOP amendments were allowed to come to the floor, but then again, all but one of them were given only 10 minutes to debate and the only one that passed was the clarification one by Shuster (which is just a common sense thing, not a concession on policy.)

    http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h1/show

    Sounds like Nancy tried to put a little window dressing on it, I guess.

  • CStanley

    CO: True, I do give credit to Obama. But actually the polling data shows that a lot of Democrats aren’t as deluded as most of the Democrat blogosphere is, so there’s hope yet.

  • elrod

    I don’t gain anything personally from this bill except to live in an economy that will improve. Believe it or not, not all Democratic voters have been “bought off” by Democratic policies.

    The reason I think a bill with pork is better than no bill at all is simple: if we truly opposed every bill with pork in it, nothing would get passed.

    My own conservative Republican Congressman, Jimmy Duncan (TN-02), loves to rail against pork barrel spending. He sends us a newsletter every quarter about his activities. Yet, in the same newsletter he prints a picture of a shiny new justice center building in Knox County. An earlier edition showed a beautiful new Civic Arts Center here in Maryville. If that’s not pork, what is?

    But you know what? I’m glad he supported those “pork” projects. People in this district will use those facilities and enjoy them. The rest of his newsletter is just typical conservative hypocrisy where he rails against pork in other people’s districts.

    The difference between Democrats and Republicans is that Democrats don’t pretend to oppose pork. Notice how all the GOP governors are thrilled at the prospect of receiving stimulus money? Because they need the money, and the Federal government is in the business of serving the people.

    And note also that these same Congressional Republicans had no qualms about spending on Bush’s entitlement expansion.

    House Repubicans are not principled “small government conservatives.” They are Republicans and they are angling for any way to get back in power. They are demagoging the bill and claiming the tired old mantle of false populism about “wasting taxpayer’s money.” They hope it fails or, barring that, the economy continues to fail so they can get back into power.

    This is what I mean by arguing in bad faith.

  • CStanley

    Elrod, what I meant by my question “why” was more along the lines of why you think it’s a given that this kind of stimulus spending will work. Shouldn’t someone have to actually provide evidence that similar spending has worked in similar situations, given the degree of debt we’re taking on? You just seem to take it on faith that something of this magnitude is a necessity and I don’t think the Keynesians are providing enough evidence or even acknowledging that govt spending MIGHT not help.

  • daniellesmyname

    I know a lot of people were expecting a unified Washington with Obama’s election, but that is impossible. I don’t think that was the kind of ‘change’ he was promising. Maybe he really will sit down with conservative leaders to get their views, maybe he will even compromise with them- that is what the ‘change’ from Bush to Obama was. Bush was steadfast in his convictions, Obama says he is willing to listen and assess. This doesn’t mean he is going to succumb to every conservative idea- he is at the end of the day a Democrat. And based on the polls (his approval ratings are in 60-70 range) Obama did win with his stimulus package. This video even has FOX News saying he is the real winner here http://www.newsy.com/videos/u_s_winners_losers/

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