Thursday, October 13, 2011

Nice Try, Ross

Ross Douthat argues in The New York Times that the Democrats in Congress would have been just as unanimously opposed to initiatives from President McCain had he won the 2008 Presidential election as were Republicans to Obama's proposals. A reader of Andrew Sullivan's blog The Daily Dish says not so fast.

Ross Douthat apparently has a bad case of amnesia. We actually have empirical evidence on the question of whether congressional Dems would work with a GOP president to fix the economy. As the economy faltered in 2008, Bush asked the Democratically-controlled Congress to pass a number of economic measures. While Bush himself wasn't up for relection, Dems could have seen political hay in obstructing Bush, letting things tank, and then beat up on the GOP while doing nothing.

So what did the Dems do? In February of 2008, Congress passed a stimulus bill that included tax rebate checks - checks mailed with a prominent letter attributing them to President Bush, if I recall. That measure passed with a majority of the Democrats supporting it, and a majority of Bush's own GOP *opposing* it! The same thing happened with the TARP bill in the fall of 2008; the Democrats were MORE supportive of Bush's emergency measures than the Republicans were. How can Ross possibly square that reality with a claim that just a few months later, in 2009, the Dems would have become utterly intransigent with John McCain replacing Bush? Ross' hypothesis was tested in 2008, and it failed spectacularly.

No surprise here. The GOP has played obstructionist in an almost unprecedented way since Obama took office, prompting conservative blogger David Frum to note that while the modern Democratic party is interested in governing, the modern GOP is about playing politics.

--Ballard Burgher

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