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Obama and the GOP

So is it smart for Congressional Republicans to be betting against the stimulus -- and the president?

David Lightman writes for McClatchy Newspapers: "The Republican Party is taking a big risk by looking like the party of 'no' at a time when Americans like their new president and badly want the economy fixed.

"'The image of the party is still forming. Voters are deciding whether the Republican Party is an obstacle to progress or standing up for its ideals,' said Neil Newhouse, partner at Public Opinion Strategies, a Virginia-based Republican consulting firm."

Nevertheless: "The GOP plan is to continue demonstrating its resolve with a combination of tough opposition to what it considers as excessive government spending and government involvement in the economy and offer its own solutions."

Gerald F. Seib writes in his Wall Street Journal column: "Republicans have stood in nearly unanimous opposition to the stimulus plan, and say they have rediscovered their voice and philosophical bearings by doing so.

"White House aides, meanwhile, say Republicans have made a political mistake of historic proportions by opposing an economic rescue effort and appearing partisan in the process.

"Obviously, both sides can't be right. Just as obviously, neither side can know for sure right now."

But Seib writes: "Because the economy is so bad, gauging the success or failure of the stimulus will be hard to do for a long time....

"Under those conditions, the public's faith in the great experiment -- and its political impact -- will turn almost entirely on how much Mr. Obama is trusted. We are about to see whether we have the Great Communicator II."

Jackie Calmes writes in the New York Times about the disconnect between Republican members of Congress and governors: "Across the country, from California's Arnold Schwarzenegger to Florida's Charlie Crist and New England's Jim Douglas in Vermont and M. Jodi Rell in Connecticut, Republican governors showed in the stimulus debate that they could be allies with Mr. Obama even as Congressional Republicans spurned him....

"Leaderless after losing the White House, the party is mostly defined by its Congressional wing, which flaunted its anti-spending ideology in opposing the stimulus package. That militancy drew the mockery of late-night television comics, but the praise of conservative talk-show stars and the party faithful.

"In the states, meanwhile, many Republican governors are practicing a pragmatic — their Congressional counterparts would say less-principled — conservatism."

Meanwhile, not everyone on the left is entirely delighted with Obama.

Alec MacGillis writes in The Washington Post: "Plenty of Obama supporters are celebrating the package. They note that while it includes less social spending than what passed in the House, it represents billions of dollars in spending for Democratic priorities such as health, education and renewable energy.

"'President Obama has been in office, what, 3 1/2 weeks? And to be able to pass a stimulus package of this size, I don't think anybody would have thought that possible six weeks ago,' said Gerald McEntee, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees."

And yet, some liberal Democrats "say the bill does not go far enough" and "are already looking ahead to future legislation that they hope will do more." They "wonder whether Obama could have used the opportunity of a large congressional majority and a moment of economic emergency to pass a bigger package, with a better chance of boosting the economy and with more of his priorities intact."

And Peter Wallsten writes in the Los Angeles Times: "Slowly over the last few weeks, some of Barack Obama's most fervent supporters have come to an unhappy realization: The candidate who they thought was squarely on their side in policy fights is now a president who needs cajoling and persuading."

Wallsten examines Obama's actions on stem cell research, faith-based initiatives, and detainee policy.

By Dan Froomkin  |  February 17, 2009; 1:22 PM ET
Categories:  Financial Crisis  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Investigating the Bush Years
Next: Washington vs. the Rest of America


Funny how the Republicans preside over a large increase in government spending, deficit spending, entitlement programs, and new bureaucracies while they are in power and then "discover their voice" when they are out of power. Typical behavior of con men.

Posted by: fletc3her | February 17, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

The Republicans are best in dissent. They (or at least some of them) have a purist philosophy that is worth considering, but does not work well in many real-world situations. That is why they have to abandon their 'core' ideas when they achieve actual power.

Posted by: ath28 | February 17, 2009 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Republicans have revealed their disingenuous nature even more by immediately releasing press releases detailing how the stimulus will help their district and how their Congressmen helped them do it.

Yes, they are a bunch of flim-flam men. Of course they have been working the biggest con for 30 years with trickle down economics.

Posted by: troyd2009 | February 17, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry, but I'm enjoying watching the Republicans go off the edge of the cliff like a herd of frightened animals. As fletc3her points out, they sold out their principles during the reign of the Boy King, and now that we are all paying the price they want to accuse the Dems of over spending and big government?

Posted by: gposner | February 17, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Republicans were thrown out because they abandoned their principles trying to act like Democrats. Hopefully they've learned their lesson because it is right for them to now oppose the so called stimulus which undoes the ONE accomplishment of the Clinton administration that ended permanent welfare. As states will now be rewarded to increase their welfare rolls, one can only assume the Democrats deep down wish to destroy the lives of the poor by entrapping them in soul crushing government dependency. All brought to you by the same Democrats who destroyed countless lives by forcing mortgage companies to give the poor mortgage loans they could not afford which ultimately turned what would have been a normal mild downturn into the economic calamity we all witness before us now.

If Democrats would only see past their heartfelt intentions, and acknowledge the wreckage of urban blight they have caused in past, we may be able to undo this disaster "stimulus" before it destroys even more lives

Posted by: tom2 | February 17, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

"Twice the jobs at half the cost?" Get real. But that's what Republicans are advertising with an alternative "stimulus" bill that is nothing but the usual top-end tax cuts. And its all you need to know about how serious Republicans are in lending a hand to clean up their economic mess. Put the GOP stimulus in the same discard pile with such famous Republicans mis-pronuncements in the past, such as -- "The Iraqi invasion will pay for itself" and "Did you know you can cut taxs and actually increase government revenues?"

Posted by: TedFrier | February 17, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse

re: ath28;The Republicans are best in dissent. Agreed. And best in the minority,
holding in check the worst impulses of the
far left. If we look back in history, a
Republican President with a workable majority in Congress has spelled disaster
for the American people. GW Bush is no
exception to the rule. It will take years to clean up this mess. Look how long it took Clinton to bring about a budget surplus from the Reagan era tax cuts. Our current situation will make the Reagan era
look like a yard party.

Posted by: habibhaddad | February 17, 2009 5:29 PM | Report abuse

From Tom2 comes this gem:

"As states will now be rewarded to increase their welfare rolls, one can only assume the Democrats deep down wish to destroy the lives of the poor by entrapping them in soul crushing government dependency."

What? States will be rewarded to increase their welfare rolls? Haven't you heard how many thousands of jobs are being cut daily throughout the nation?

This is a typical Republican spin by standing the truth on its head.

Posted by: FedUp1 | February 17, 2009 8:51 PM | Report abuse

(Sidestepping the other 200 problems with Tom2's argument) he said "Republicans were thrown out because they abandoned their principles trying to act like Democrats."

Republicans were thrown out because they were incompetent at running the government, widely partisan when overseeing an equally divided country, damaged or destroyed bedrock American principles under the banner of "keeping America safe" and were unbelievably arrogant. They should be grateful that anyone listens to them at all.

Posted by: DigiMark | February 17, 2009 10:42 PM | Report abuse

The congressional republicans are ready to try the hoover non-solution AGAIN! they have convinced themselves that they will gain if Obama fails. but we can't afford that. these backward folks are still fighting the civil war. we can't afford that. Many of these republicans are from states that depend on the feds to subsidize them because they won't tax themselves. In other words, they're in the "poor house" and they are absolutly determined to stay there. But why should other states (CA for intance, with budget problems of its own) continue to subsidize them? they want the roads and bridges, they just don't want to pay for them. I suggest that we decline to support them beyond a bse level. Let them live with the philosophy of their leaders!

Posted by: michael5 | February 18, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

to tom2,
The republicans were thrown out because they have no interest or competence at governing. If you don't believe in FEMA, what does it matter if you appoint some hack who has republican connections, but doesn't know anything about emergency managemant. Your guys lost because they declined to govern! Your solutions are all non-solutions because the underlying problems are the basis of your parties viability. this is going to be vividly demonstrated as this depression lingers. You see, people who no longer have jobs to go to are unlikely to be persuaded by promises of tax cuts. and just wait till some of these republican govenors have to cut back on the social safety net.
goodbye gop, don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Posted by: michael5 | February 18, 2009 4:12 PM | Report abuse

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