Tuesday, February 10, 2009

GOP Playing Politics on Stimulus Bill

Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo nails the reasons for GOP obstructionism despite dire economic straits and strong public support (67%) for Obama's handling of the stimulus plan.

Behind all the back and forth over the Stimulus Bill is a simple fact: the debate in Washington is rapidly moving away from any recognition that the US economy -- and the global economy, for that matter -- is in free-fall...why would Republicans be trying to drive the country off a cliff? Well, not pretty to say, but they see it in their political interests...The public will be entirely within its rights to blame Democrats for any failure of government action that happened while Democrats held the White House and sizable majorities in both houses of Congress.

Andrew Sullivan elaborates on The Daily Dish.

The gerrymandering of the past decade also means the Republican rump is secure - with 31 percent approval - even when resisting adequate fiscal stimulus in a deflationary spiral. The kind of Republican who might have actually taken current economic conditions into account when grappling with a new president was voted out of office last November. Only Specter, Collins and Snowe are left (with Lugar hanging in). McCain's post-election bitterness has resulted in the usual hissy-fit.

Boiling this down, many of the Republicans remaining in Congress believe they need the spectacular failure of the stimulus plan to bring their party back to power. The fact that this would mean economic ruin for their country seems to be irrelevant. Arguments that the Democrats would do the same were the roles reversed pale when the Democrats' support of Bush after 9/11 is taken into account.

A number of "free market" (conservative) economists offer intriguing alternatives over at The New Majority while acknowledging the need for quick action. Congressional Republicans would have a lot more credibility if they offered something other than nonsensical complaints along with the usual tax cuts.

--Ballard Burgher

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