After giving the package zero votes in the House, and 0with their counterparts in the Senate likely to provide in a crucial procedural vote today only the handful of votes needed to avoid a filibuster, Republicans are relishing the opportunity to make a big statement. Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Tex.) suggested last week that the party is learning from the disruptive tactics of the Taliban, and the GOP these days does have the bravado of an insurgent band that has pulled together after a big defeat to carry off a quick, if not particularly damaging, raid on the powers that be.
"We're so far ahead of where we thought we'd be at this time," said Rep. Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), one of several younger congressmen seeking to lead the party's renewal. "It's not a sign that we're back to where we need to be, but it's a sign that we're beginning to find our voice. We're standing on our core principles, and the core principle that suffered the most in recent years was fiscal conservatism and economic liberty. That was the tallest pole in our tent, and we took an ax to it, but now we're building it back."
The second-ranking House Republican, Rep. Eric Cantor (Va.), put it more bluntly. "What transpired . . . and will give us a shot in the arm going forward is that we are standing up on principle and just saying no," he said.
The fact that the stimulus legislation keeps moving forward nonetheless has done nothing to dim Republicans' satisfaction. Rather, they sense a tactical victory, particularly in the framing of their opposition to the plan as a clash with congressional Democrats instead of with President Obama, who remains far more popular with voters than does Congress.
Republican Senator from Texas,John Cornyn states "The president has done a good job reaching out to Republicans, and he has said he wants to approach this crisis . . . on a bipartisan basis. That's good, and we're willing to work with him on that. But this bill is not the president's bipartisan plan."
The Barack Obama decided to publicly pitch the plan, making it just as much his as it is the Democrats that jammed it through the House and when it passes the Senate it will only with a few Republicans helping so that it cannot be filibustered.
There will be no doubt when the "spend more" bill fails to stimulate the economy that it is a complete Obama and Democratic failure and that the Republicans in the House and Senate warned them clearly and refused to vote for a plan that holds no hope of doing what they claimed they were trying to.
Tom Davis, who retired from his Northern Virginia congressional seat last month, has long warned about the party's decline among moderate suburban voters. But with George W. Bush now off the national stage, Davis is upbeat about the party's prospects in its initial tests: the House seat in Upstate New York that had been held by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D), and Virginia's gubernatorial race.
"There was such antipathy to Bush, and you take him out of it and a lot of the Democrats' energy evaporates. It doesn't change the poll numbers, but it changes the energy," he said. "That's why these elections are going to be different."
The 2010 elections will reflect how the public views the bills and actions from Obama and the Democratic politicians and in the end they will no longer be able to hide behind the Republicans to abdicate their own responsibility for their bad decisions, especially with the Republicans standing on principle and refusing to offer them cover.
On a side note, one of the two or three Republicans that will be supporting the bill, Arlen Specter, explains why he will, and I have to say, supporting a bill just so you can say you are "trying" to do something, even knowing it is a bad bill, makes Specter a sever disappointment to the Republican party as a whole.
I am supporting the economic stimulus package for one simple reason: The country cannot afford not to take action.
The end of his piece tells exactly why Republicans, like Specter, have lost the respect of their base.
"In politics," John Kennedy used to say, "nobody gets everything, nobody gets nothing and everybody gets something." My colleagues and I have tried to balance the concerns of both left and right with the need to act quickly for the sake of our country. The moderates' compromise, which faces a cloture vote today, is the only bill with a reasonable chance of passage in the Senate.
To accept a bad bill simply because it "can" get passed the Senate, and you need to "appear" to be trying to help.... is a cop out.
The Politico makes the same point I made above:
Now Obama and the Democrats are poised to push through an $827 billion package Tuesday with as few as three Republican votes in the Senate, after notching zero on the House side.
The risks for Obama are considerable. He and the Democrats will have no one else to blame if the package fails to boost the economy. Obama himself has said his first term can be judged on whether it succeeds, whether it creates or saves the 3 million to 4 million jobs he promises.
And if the economy fails to show marked signs of improvement — a possibility indeed — Republicans will have a megabillion-dollar “I told you so” in their pockets, just in time for the 2010 midterm elections and Obama’s own reelection bid in 2012.
Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said the fallout from a Democrat-only bill will be “squarely in the president and the Democratic leadership’s lap.”