Friday, January 30, 2009

Ground Has Shifted Under GOPs' Feet

Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post says that the unanimous "No" vote by House Republicans on the stimulus bill confirms that they are stuck in Reagan-era ideology.

But Americans know that this philosophy has already taken us as far as it could. Americans know that taxes can be cut by only so much before the federal government's effectiveness inevitably suffers. Americans know that spending money doesn't necessarily mean wasting it. Americans know that the economic crisis means that taking the position that government is inherently oppressive, if not fundamentally evil, is now intellectually bankrupt, because government is the only instrument we have in the high-stakes attempt to induce financial and economic recovery.

It was a triumph of discipline over reason, of doctrine over observation. There is abundant evidence suggesting that we are in a new political era with new rules and a new lexicon. Those who ignore that evidence will have only themselves to blame if, like the air traffic controllers, they end up losing their jobs.

By contrast, Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) gets it, as shown by his address to the Republican National Committee's annual meeting on Thursday.

"We're all concerned about the fact that the very wealthy and the very poor, the most and least educated, and a majority of minority voters, seem to have more or less stopped paying attention to us. And we should be concerned that, as a result of all this, the Republican Party seems to be slipping into a position of being more of a regional party than a national one."

It will be interesting to see whether McConnell's insight influences Senate Republicans to respond differently than their House brethren when they take up the stimulus debate next week.

--Ballard Burgher

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