The Trail: A Daily Diary of Campaign 2008


The Rundown

Why Obama Didn't Win Over the GOP

By Ben Pershing
Let the betting begin -- how many votes will the stimulus package get on the House floor today? And how many minds did President Obama actually change yesterday?

As The Fix points out, Obama is riding a wave of popularity right now and he has made clear that passing the stimulus -- not just passing it, but doing so with Republican votes -- is his first and biggest priority. In fact, Obama came into office with the highest approval rating of any new president since John F. Kennedy.

But it's also true that many Republicans have genuine philosophical problems with the stimulus package, as its price tag now approaches $900 billion, believing that it spends too much and cuts taxes too little. In the view of some conservatives, the best thing government can do right now is nothing. And from a purely strategic perspective, as Josh Marshall observes, most Republicans have decided that opposing the measure is their best political move.

If the stimulus turns out to be a success, the victory will accrue to Obama with relatively little benefit for the GOP for having supported it. Republicans' best chance for a boost is to oppose the bill and then have it become unpopular and unsuccessful at turning the economy around. Put more simply, the stimulus is going to become law no matter what Republicans do, so why not take a stand? Their electoral situation can't get much worse than it already is, and it might just get better.

Continue reading at Political Browser»

Posted at 8:15 AM ET on Jan 28, 2009  | Category:  The Rundown
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The last thing anyone in government should be doing right now is basing their actions on political strategy. Are the Republicans opposing the bill because they think it won't help, or because they are trying to position themselves better, politically? Seems like all that anyone in Congress is doing right now (Dems just as bad as Repubs, with all their spiteful nonsense about Bush and Rush Limbaugh) is jockeying for political power. What a load of BS and a slap in the face for the country. What a bunch of complete idiots.

Obama = only clear-headed person in Washington, it seems.

Posted by: spongekill | January 28, 2009 4:17 PM

Mitt Romney was instrumental in rallying the RepubliCANS towards their stance on O'Bomba's Porkfest.
His speech was right on! Permanent Tax Cuts, Capital Gains waivers, and targeted Regulation, will do so much more that a one-time spending spree!

There was MUCH more in Romney's speech. It is a Black-Eye for WaPo NOT to have published it!

The Money needs to go from the Bottom up! It will NEVER go from the Top down!

Get the people who do not have money, and have not previously been socialized Dead-Beats until maybe just recently, GOOD Money-NOW!

It could be disbursed and re-collected;
through the IRS!

That same $350 Billion thrown away to buy Repos the Banks grabbed, but now want to get money for!;

Should have been 35 MILLION $10,000 Loans to help people catch up on delinquencies!

In any case, what I want to hear at this point from all lenders and banks, is Foreclosures, and Repo's, are FROZEN!

Posted by: SAINT---The | January 28, 2009 3:06 PM

Obama should continue to sit down and talk to America's enemies (e.g. republicans) without preconditions. Persistence with substantive constructive arguments could very well move things in the right direction, and elevate the electorate's awareness of who's helping and who's hindering. Sometimes it takes a while for people to give in to reason.

Posted by: rooster54 | January 28, 2009 2:11 PM

Dottydo thinks the glass is half full when its nearly empty --

"The American mindset is on football.
Restaurants are open and thriving. Sports memorabilia is flying off the shelves, planes are full and the RV is back out of the wraps.Americans thrive on fun."

Just because Americans can get creative in times of crisis, does not mean there is not crisis. There is a big difference between Americans saying "no" to a bank bailout vs. a middle-class recovery.

Government Stimulus = borrowed money that gets spent in the economy on everyone, that otherwise would not be spent
Great stimulus = borrowed money that gets spent over and over again - (multiplier effect)

In a shrinking economy, tax cuts are a lousy stimulus because they are likely to be saved by people and businesses loosing their jobs and revenue respectively. It is government borrowing money and parking it - where it is nearly useless. (Tax cuts ARE ONLY stimulative in a growing economy - so we should delay most tax cuts till the economy starts growing again)

Contraceptives - morally offensive to some - are great stimulus because the same money gets spent by women, then again by retailers and again by drug companies.

MUCH BETTER THAN contraceptives are expenditures on Infrastructure, eduction, healthcare and energy because they not only multiply spending right here in America, they create permanent NEW CAPACITY for the middle-class to earn and spend. They also contain several backlogs of demand that will get spending happening quickly:
- 45 million uninsured that would ALSO get the healthcare industry growing again (though this bill only partially tackles this)
- 10 year shortage of teachers that would ALSO get kids get better educated
- 10 year backlog of school construction that would ALSO kids get better educated
- 5-10 year backlog of new broadband in rural areas AND America that would ALSO generate more commerce, education, entertainment
- 2-5 year backlog of wind/solar projects that would ALSO reduce our dependence on foreign oil
MOST of this money goes through small-medium size businesses creating jobs AND preventing government bureaucracy.

Sure, even these “fast” ideas will take most of 2009 to get the money flowing but that wil be badly needed if we are at 10% unemployment by then?

Posted by: YoungAtheart | January 28, 2009 1:02 PM


I like the way you write. I don't agree at all but its a good read. Write some more.

Posted by: YoungAtheart | January 28, 2009 12:49 PM

dottydo, your name is remarkably appropriate. Just skipping over to the dictionary quickly, I find these definitions for the word "Dotty:" 1. mentally unbalanced : crazy b: amiably eccentric 2: being obsessed or infatuated 3: amusingly absurd.

Posted by: nodebris | January 28, 2009 12:29 PM

The GOP Plan:

1. Oppose Obama - scortch the earth.

2. Hope he fails.


Posted by: toritto | January 28, 2009 12:14 PM

It makes me angry to see Obama's message of unification over the idea that we can make America better together has not at all influenced Ben Pershing's post. Is he really advocating the Republicans oppose the bill simply because it will be good for them electorally? Why is this even a valid argument? I can already feel the weight of convention labelling me naive, but with the given system crashing down around us, isn't it time to question the way things are run by ignoring electoral concerns in place of a focus on what's actually good for the country? I don't support a giant bailout, but I support infrastructure renewal that has statistically put the most money back into the economy per federal dollar spent. Let's follow Obama's lead from the election debates and talk policy instead of dividing the country into two opposing camps by default.

Posted by: jacksanford | January 28, 2009 11:58 AM

There are many opinions out there about why Obama is not listening to Americans say no.
One (OF COURSE) is the idea that he is only here to break the financial backbone and will of America, because he is not allegianced here. The Odinga campaign is evidence.

Many think big banks are fraud shops and money mills for Islam now. The first interview should have been Aerican.
Too late to take it back now.

Americans are not the type to be sheeple.
mIf you say there is a problem Americans fix it before Government wheels roll.

There is no bailout needed.
The tea is in the harbor.
No means no.

Posted by: dottydo | January 28, 2009 11:37 AM

Case in point: Arizona
The shyster loan sharking federally regulated (which means a free for all of crime) banks were foreclosaing and holding onto houses ,even after the 700b. (Which taxpayers said "No" to)

Arizona Americans began to help each other. The new Governor plans incentives for business to come . Optomism is high.

Poorly performing portfolios were liquidated and the money was used to buy a house. The For Sale by Owner market took off.

Ignoring the defunct "Credit Score" system, American's found solvent American buyers and sold the property to them. The interest is better than the bailout banks and people helped each other. Contractors are doing the same, and acting as the bank. Life moved on. Capitalism works.

The American mindset is on football.
Restaurants are open and thriving. Sports memorabilia is flying off the shelves, planes are full and the RV is back out of the wraps.Americans thrive on fun. Empty swimiming pools in bank owned neighborhoods are the new skate board park .

Proof? Look at the upturn in home sales.

Obama and Pelosi may just be looking for new work along with others in Congress who rob wallets to support Voting frauds. Doom and gloom "while they party" days are over.

Obama is no longer signifigant to America, if he is seen as a traitor to the Country via his first press interview.

Why not make it 22t ....enjoy themselves all they like. Now try to collect it.

The tea is in the harbor since the American people said no to the 700b. and Congress didn't hear who runs the Country.

Appoint an Al Capone into the system and Americans simply fire workers and hire them for cash under the table. Tax dodge is the acceptible behavior now.
The standard was set by Congress.

People are putting money in local credit unions and State regulated banks, or paying back taxes for others in their Counties.

Big banks are doomed, because Americans (both Dem and Republican) want to cut their ties with corruption syphoning money off to the Middle East.

Americans just said no.

Pass what they like, if the Tea is in the Harbor, the Feds have no followers.

Taxation without representation doesn't fly in this Country.

Posted by: dottydo | January 28, 2009 11:18 AM

It is a mistake to believe that Obama did not achieve his objective. He is the real master of the Political Parlor Game. ...........

Posted by: glclark4750 | January 28, 2009 10:54 AM

"In the view of some conservatives, the best thing government can do right now is nothing."

This is the leadership of a party that "phones in" it's response to every disaster.

Posted by: JohnQuimby | January 28, 2009 10:54 AM

Republicans, once again, are attempting to position the Democrats into a box where they will have to raise taxes before elections in 2012. To do so, the Republicans are pushing for deep tax cuts, even though they (and we) know that the return to the economy from tax cuts is far lower than spending.
Nevertheless, if Republicans can get Obama to cave and accept more tax cuts than are prudent, the Republicans hope in a few years he will face a strengthening economy and the necessity to curb defecits through tax increases. Imagine the howls from the right when that happens.
Most disturbing is not the playing for political advantage. Most disturbing is the Republicans clinging to their failed belief that the economy can withstand anything and bad economic decisions will eventually play out. We used to think this about ocean and air pollution and global warming, and like the philosophy of win at any price politics, the belief has been proven false.
By 'staying the course' the Republicans are essentially positioning themselves outside the arena and effectively turning all future economic success over to the Democrats. Just as in Iraq when the Sunnis refused to participate in elections, the Republicans will find themselves with less and less of a voice in our country's governance.
From my point of view, good ridddance. I do not believe that America is indestructible and it seems the Republican philosophy has proven me correct.

Posted by: bgreen2224 | January 28, 2009 10:49 AM


I see your point, but I'll point out some instances where bills and such were ramrodded through Congress without adequate debate or thought:

The Patriot Act
The Iraq War (or Gulf War II if you prefer)
Stimulus Bill I

Very few of us are better people due to the outcomes. One of these articles has a great idea from a former Clinton official stating that the bill should be broken into two, a short term and long term versions.

This bill has too much wheat, too much chaff to be pragmatically evaluated quickly. As it is the only way to evaluate it is to pass it wait five years, and determine the results. Seems to be a big trial and error risk.

Posted by: kolbkl | January 28, 2009 10:43 AM

tommariner needs a history lesson and an economics lesson wouldn't hurt

Posted by: edzeppelin | January 28, 2009 10:13 AM

Philosophical differences, my sweet bippy. The Republican way has been tried, and nobody with half a brain still believes that cutting taxes and letting the foxes guard the henhouse makes for a strong economy. This is pure cynical politics as usual by a bunch of dead-enders.

Posted by: csdiego | January 28, 2009 9:55 AM

I think the reason that Obama is trying to push this through so fast is because he has so much stuff to try and correct that he wants to get this out of the way and on the move so he can focus on other things. Although I don't blame him, I do hope that he will keep his word via his campaigning; that he would take other peoples opinions into consideration. If there is something on the Stimulus plan that needs revamping, then do it. Don't just try to throw it down as is and hope for the best. However, to the GOP I say this: Don't block this bill just because you would rather it be more tax cuts. Have you not noticed that despite the tax cuts provided by the Bush Admin, things have not improved? Not only have they not improved, they've continued to spiral out of control. Don't block a bill just because it's against your partys' protocol.

Posted by: XanderB | January 28, 2009 9:52 AM


OR (if link is disabled):

Posted by: scrivener50 | January 28, 2009 9:52 AM

I see, we are now to spend weeks, months reviewing a bill that is designed to help the man on the street but under the previous administration we passed, in hours, a bill that was originally designed to drop off checks to financial services CEOs with no accountability or review. What hypocrites these Republicans are!

Posted by: Ethicist | January 28, 2009 9:49 AM

Congress takes years to carefully consider how tiny changes in laws will affect us. Yet we are honestly going to approve in days, with no review by any of our representatives of the greatest social change since the Constitution was written? And, in the guise of "stimulating the economy", we are certain to not only obligate our children to a life paying for this electoral tantrum, but cause fury in the 49% of our population that didn't vote for this.

And stop calling the bill "Stimulus" -- the part that has any possibility of helping ordinary Americans doesn't even start for two years -- but the bucks for the social engineering go out next week. To me, its a phony name, like when a country calls it self the "Democratic Peoples Republic of ..." it is none of the three.

So the facts are that if we wait for two years or two years and two months, it won't make a bit of difference. So on pain of your seat in Congress, here is the clear warning to our Congress -- SLOW DOWN AND READ THE BILL! And remember that FDR tried the same exact tactics and prolonged the Depression for TEN YEARS.

Posted by: tommariner | January 28, 2009 9:38 AM

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