My Morning Read

By Dan Froomkin
9:45 AM ET, 01/29/2009

President Obama gets his stimulus bill passed in the House -- but without one GOP vote. So who really won? Who was vindicated? What does this bode for the future?

Peter Wallsten writes in the Los Angeles Times about how Obama's first big legislative victory nevertheless didn't deliver the post-partisan era that he called for in his inauguration address.

Paul Kane writes in The Washington Post that a top White House adviser warned of the political fallout GOP lawmakers could face from constituents struggling in tough economic times.

Steven T. Dennis and Shira Toeplitz write in Roll Call (subscription required) about how congressional Republicans have placed a very large bet against Obama.

Here is Obama's statement after the vote.

Meanwhile, the question I think I'll be exploring for my main item today is this: How much is Obama abandoning economic populism in his quest not to upset Republicans and Wall Street? And is that serving him well? Your thoughts in comments would be welcome.


Here's some commentary on the stimulus vote:

Blogger Hilzoy writes: “There are good reasons to try for bipartisan support regardless of how likely you think you are to succeed.

“If you do succeed, then both parties have some ownership of the stimulus bill, neither will be as eager to politicize it, and it will be harder for either to use it to beat up the other. This is good. If you try hard, and publicly, to attract Republican support, but fail, then Republicans look like intransigent ideologues who would rather try to score political points than actually deal with the serious problems the country faces. You, by contrast, look reasonable: you tried to reach out, but your efforts were rejected.”

The New York Times editorial board writes: “The signature achievement of the $819 billion stimulus and recovery bill, passed on Wednesday by the House, is that it directs most of its resources where they would do the most good to stimulate the economy….

“President Obama and the lawmakers who wrote the bill are to be commended for not letting size distort the substance. Contrary to the claims of Republican opponents that the bill indiscriminately rains money down, the amounts and categories of spending have, for the most part, been calculated carefully and chosen well.”

E.J. Dionne Jr. writes in his Washington Post opinion column that the main battle over how to improve the economy is now taking place among Democrats. “One camp favors using the stimulus to focus on the needs of Americans of modest means,” while another “sees the bills as shorting investments for infrastructure: roads, bridges and particularly mass transit,” and “environmentalists have pushed for large investments in clean energy and conservation.”

What about the GOP? “Because of their philosophical leanings, most Republicans have chosen to make themselves irrelevant to the debate,” Dionne writes. “They prefer to insist on more tax cuts for the well-off and for business, ignoring the reality that all but the most ideological economists dismiss such measures as having limited value in boosting the economy.”

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