The New Bipartisanship: Vote With the Majority, or Die

There's a strange new meme afoot, among non-Democrat circles as well as Obamaphiles. It goes like this: House Republicans are risking a possibly deserved "death spiral" by the mere act of opposing what the Democratic majority wants to do. So the American Spectator's Conservative's Daniel Larison marvels that "The Republican stimulus vote was remarkable in how politically tone-deaf it was." A Daily Kos diarist compares Republican non-assimilationists to The Borg. Andrew Sullivan, still impressed by Obama's "public and sincere attempt to win many [Republicans] over," worries that "many Republicans who might otherwise have been open to a real compromise - or at least less partisan rhetoric - are no longer in the Congress. The remaining rump will seek ideological purity and attack the president from the get-go." And Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson argues that Obama-leery Republicans risk the same fate as, uh, unionized air traffic controllers who took on Ronald Reagan.

I guess it helps to not have an electoral dog in the hunt, but this focus on the politics of stimulus opposition strikes me as bizarre. First of all, it's January. There is no election anytime soon. Secondly, while polls for the stimulus have been more favorable than they have been for the always-unpopular bailout, the numbers ain't that great for this giveaway, either. And I guess what I'm more interested in is whether throwing $819 billion (not including interest) at various pet projects, localized bailouts and targeted tax breaks is actually good policy. On that, I find House Republicans more convincing than the Dems, even if (as Larison and others rightly point out) it also reminds us of "how gutlessly the Republican leadership acquiesced to whatever the Bush administration wanted and how they only managed to discover some interest in resisting massive expenditures when someone from the other party is in the White House." Better late than never, etc., especially if you don't confuse newfound opposition with anything like reliable principle.

The other factor at play here, which Democratic ears seem unable to detect, is that Obama is skillfully turning the meaning of the word "bipartisan" into "the coalition that agrees with my magnanimous self." All this "political suicide" talk serves his conscious goal of peeling off enough scared and/or squishy Republicans to turn his already impressive majority into something positively Reaganesque. So that he can even more smoothly carry out the urgent bipartisan business of installing Big Labor in the West Wing.

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  • economist||

    The Republicans must be punished for pissing on Hope and Change (tm).

  • Kolohe||

    is that Obama is skillfully turning the meaning of the word "bipartisan" into "the coalition that agrees with my magnanimous self."

    To be fair, Obama didn't invent this. I think it was David Broder when he covered the signing of the the Magna Carta

  • ktc2||

    Yeah, yeah, the Rs are going to pretend to suddenly find their fiscal conservative roots. That'll last just long enough to fool enough people to put them back in control at which point it's back to business as usual.

  • ||

    I'd just like to note that Andrew Sullivan is a retard.

  • Naga Sadow||

    Episiarch,

    Noted, written down, and seconded!

  • ||

    How is that the new bi-partisanship? That's the game the republicans played when Bush was elected in 2000.

  • Patrick||

    Daniel Larison writes for the American Conservative, not the American Spectator

  • ||

    Yeah, yeah, the Rs are going to pretend to suddenly find their fiscal conservative roots. That'll last just long enough to fool enough people to put them back in control at which point it's back to business as usual.

    Well, at least it's better than issuing public recantations and joining the long march into the great socialist future.

    If it's a choice between faux fiscal conservatism and genuine welfare state enthusiasm, I'll take the faux fiscal conservatism.

    At least they'll be PRETENDING they want to cut government.

  • Matt Welch||

    Daniel Larison writes for the American Conservative, not the American Spectator

    Thanks.

  • ||

    The other factor at play here, which Democratic ears seem unable to detect, is that Obama is skillfully turning the meaning of the word "bipartisan" into "the coalition that agrees with my magnanimous self."

    I call shenanigans on this statement.

    The reality is that the reason that a full third of the stimulus is corporate tax breaks was a concession to the GOP. Same goes for Obama leaning on Pelosi to pull funding for Family Planning.

    When your party controls the House by a pretty large margin, and a 59-41 advantage in the Senate and the White House, giving any concessions to the minority party is pretty bipartisan.

    If the Dems had a fucking clue they would have known that the GOP isn't gonna support the Obama stimulus regardless of the concessions he was willing to give them. They had nothing to gain from it. If it succeeds the Dems (and Obama) would take the credit, but if it fails the GOP would have signed on.

    The GOP negotiated in bad faith (which this being politics, I cant really blame them for) and the dems gave them concessions for nothing in return -- The Dems should have known better and rammed a pure Dem bill down their throats instead of watering it down and still not getting any GOP support.

    Maybe the Dems will learn from this that "bipartisanship" as an ends isn't really worth anything. But I doubt it.

  • Reinmoose||

    ChiTom

    The flip side of that is that the dems conceeded those things without need. They basically have to say "Sorry family planning advocates and those opposing corporate tax breaks, but we really wanted to get some republicans to vote for this thing so we weren't in this catastrophe alone"

  • Elemenope||

    I'd just like to note that Andrew Sullivan is a retard.
    [...]
    Noted, written down, and seconded!


    I dissent.

    Call him shrill if you like, but he's no retard.

  • Jozef||

    I tend to listen to NPR on my drive to work and back (hey, I live in Atlanta - the only other options are country or rap), so I may be a little biased, but I also think that the Republicans are committing political suicide. Not as much by opposing the bailout bill, as by their rhetoric. Just this morning I've heard some Republican Congressman complaining that this bailout bill would put Americans into debt. As opposed to the Iraq debacle and the 700 billion bailout the same Congressman voted for? As far as I am concerned, the new bailout would have been lesser evil, with infrastructure and education investments, instead of the support of failing businesses. However, as it stands now, as an additional expenditure, it's just throwing slightly less worse money after bad money. Still, the incredible hypocrisy in the Republicans' statements makes them look worse than the average politician.

  • ||

    Call him shrill if you like, but he's no retard.

    I present the following evidence:

    Jerri: Mr. Noblet wants me to snitch on a friend.

    Jellineck: Snitching doesn't seem like you, Jerri.

    Jerri: Oh, it's not what you think. It's not like snitching on a real person. She's--

    Jellineck: Gay?

    Jerri: Retarded.

    Jellineck: Yes, most of them are.

    Jerri: Most who are what?

    Jellineck: Most gay people are retarded.

    Jerri: Does that mean Kimberly Timbers is gay?

    Jellineck: I don't know. Hey! Make a pass at her and find out. She'd have to be retarded to turn you down.

  • Seward||

    ChicagoTom,

    The reality is that the reason that a full third of the stimulus is corporate tax breaks was a concession to the GOP.

    So, Democrats would never give tax breaks at this level to corporations if they weren't trying to throw a bone to Republicans?

    I would agree with your statement if the following were true: the tax breaks are not "targetted."

    I don't know all the details of say the House bill, but I do know that from what I have seen in Obama's proposal as it existed a week or two ago that the new tax proposals - be they increases or decreases - were all directed at some segment of the population.

  • Reinmoose||

    El -
    You don't think the phrase "will seek ideological purity" in reference to house Republicans is a sign of stupidity?

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "The other factor at play here, which Democratic ears seem unable to detect, is that Obama is skillfully turning the meaning of the word "bipartisan" into "the coalition that agrees with my magnanimous self"

    That's been a tactic of the Dems and their lackeys in the press for a long time.

    Obama might be a little better at pulling off that scam than some of his predecessors - for now.

  • Seward||

    Every decade or some one or the other major party is about to commit suicide, has committed suicide, etc. I've lived through about four or five rounds of this so far. It is as nearly a non-thinking response to an event as a quote from Tocqueville is.

    So yeah, maybe the Republicans will implode and die as a party, etc. But I find that unlikely. And even if it did happen, another party would rise in its place fairly swiftly - particularly in light of our advances in communication technology, etc. Indeed, to have one of the major parties implode might even be a good thing; it is not as if either major party has a "right" to exist.

  • robc||

    hey, I live in Atlanta - the only other options are country or rap

    You could listen to WREK. I dont know what kind of crap they play in morning drive time, but it wont be country or rap. Probably some combination of chain saws and ball bearings.

  • ||

    Why the charade of getting the approval of Congress to spend taxpayer money, at this point?

    The real spending action takes place behind closed doors at the Federal Reserve, without need of any approval by Congress.

    The link below is to the Vice Chairman of the Fed stonewalling a congressional hearing, on where $1.2 trillion in heretofore unknown bailout spending, unapproved by Congress, went:

    Tracking the Bailout - CBS News

    The hearing took place on Jan 13. At 1:22 into the 2 minute and 12 second video, discussion of the huge secret bailout program starts, with Donald Kohn, Vice Chair of the Fed, refusing to say which banks and institutions got this $1.2 trillion.

    This is in addition to the $700 billion "approved" TARP bailout. So all told, $2 trillion is being handed over to the financial elites of this country, which I believe is about the size of the entire Federal budget of the previous year. And most of the money is being spent without the approval of Congress. You can be sure more is to come.

    Congress is largely irrelevant at this point, except as political theater. The Fed, behind closed doors, just prints up trillions and hands the loot out to the favored few.

  • ||

    Politics? I thought this was an emergency.

    The Democrats were dead at least three separate times since Clinton was elected the first time. They were made undead by GOP craziness over the war; otherwise, it might've really been true. Fortunately for the GOP, the Democrats are so bad and so openly corrupt when in office, that the scary GOP begins to look like an improvement after a while. Too bad that the GOP looks barely palatable only when acting as a minority party.

    What do we learn here about absolute or even just a lot of unrestrained power? Hmmmm?

  • Paul||

    There is no election anytime soon. Secondly, while polls for the stimulus have been more favorable than they have been for the always-unpopular bailout, the numbers ain't that great for this giveaway, either.



    I was listening to NPR last night (you know, between Paul Krugman segments) and there were "unsafe" republicans in Democratic districts who claimed their call ratios were 4:1 against the stimulus bill.

  • jtuf||

    "many Republicans who might otherwise have been open to a real compromise - or at least less partisan rhetoric - are no longer in the Congress. The remaining rump will seek ideological purity and attack the president from the get-go."

    In otherwords, the RINOs lost their election bids when conservatives stopped supporting them. I suspect that this is less a matter of Republicans finding new spine and more a matter or the spineless Republicans getting kicked out of office. With the deadwood gone, reps who stick to their principles stand out more.

  • Naga Sadow||

    But Pro Lib, surely if we get one of our own, i.e. the right people in charge, everything would be fine. Grass would be greener, the sky would be bluer, the air would be intoxicating . . .

    Anyways, how did you like that Robot Chicken link over at Urkobold? Ewoks getting their asses kicked by Boba Fett . . . instant classic!

  • jtuf||

    Seems to me, these Republicans are acting very sensibly. Who would want to follow the example of RINOs who lost their elections?

  • Elemenope||

    You don't think the phrase "will seek ideological purity" in reference to house Republicans is a sign of stupidity?

    Just cause an ideology is stupid doesn't mean it can't be purified.

    One can indeed have *pure shit*.

  • ||

    Now if the stimulus bill included a law rewriting ROTJ to excise the Ewoks, I might feel more friendly towards our Democratic overlords.

  • ||

    This post ignores the fact that Obama and the Democrats didn't just insist that Republicans assent to the bill as he wrote it, but agreed to amend the bill in significant, substantive ways that the Republicans wanted.

    How is that the new bi-partisanship? That's the game the republicans played when Bush was elected in 2000. As a matter of fact, they didn't. If you look at the 2001 tax bill, for example, the White House and Republican leadership basically took the tack of pushing their bill through without input from the Democrats, than demanding that they support it as is.

  • ||

    I called my congressman. Polls may not be showing it, but there's a bunch of people that are really agitated right now. Republicans couldn't be doing anything better than branding themselves the Anti-Obama.

  • ||

    Pro L:

    At this point, it's pretty obvious to me that we no longer live in anything approaching a representative democracy with a free market economy. Rather, it's more like post-industrial feudalism. Back in the middle ages, the serfs had to hand over about 1/3 of each year's crops to the Lord of the Manor. How much of the GDP does the government spend/redistribute each year? At least that much.

    The eternal struggle between the Dems and the Reps is staged political theater, equivalent to professional wrestling. Entertainment for the masses, to keep them occupied and lulled into believing they have some say in their lives.

  • ||

    Hmm. The most shocking thing about all of this, for me, is that a Daily Kos collectivist referred to the Republicans as Borg while his Democrat champions in the House and Senate have more or less made "Resistance is futile" a goddamn party wide talking point.

    Also, I mean, the Borg are obviously socialist. What is this asshole smoking?

  • Reinmoose||

    El -
    you missed my question. It was if the implication that Republicans were seeking ideological purity is stupid. Do the house Republicans really have an ideology, or if so, is it what they portray on the outside?

  • ||

    The eternal struggle between the Dems and the Reps is staged political theater, equivalent to professional wrestling.

    To me, it seems to be more of an elaborate, Jerry Lawler-and-Andy Kaufman style joke.

  • ||

    ChicagoTom,

    If the Dems had a fucking clue they would have known that the GOP isn't gonna support the Obama stimulus regardless of the concessions he was willing to give them. I disagree. Obama now gets props from voters in the middle for trying to work in a bipartisan fashion, while those same voters see the Republicans reject that effort.

    In terms of the cost to Obama of watering down the bill, there is already talk of a new infrastructure bill, and of putting the stripped items into upcoming appropriations bills - bills that the Democrats are now much freer to push through as they want them, thanks to the GOP so visibly dissing bipartisanship.

    When considering the political consequences of this week's events, it's probably a mistake to look only at what got into this bill.

  • Reinmoose||

    Obama and the Democrats didn't just insist that Republicans assent to the bill as he wrote it, but agreed to amend the bill in significant, substantive ways that the Republicans wanted.

    I know what I think about this (I stated it earlier in the thread). Why do you think they did this? It's a bit puzzling to me.

  • bruce||

    that's what "bipartisanship" has always meant, even before the magna carta. i'm on this side, you're on that side and you've finally found the wisdom to agree with me.

  • ||

    I have to say, massive tax cuts make more sense to me as stimulus than implementing a lot of wish-list programs and paybacks. One thing about we Americans, we don't like to have money burning in our pockets. The Democrats have firm control for two years, so why not do that crap later? If this is a crisis, that's what they should be doing.

    My first vote would be to just cut spending dramatically and show some hardcore fiscal responsibility--a more equitable tax system can wait a bit--but there's no way that's happening. Not with the Great New Deal Society and the Bush-initiated bailout/stimulus extravaganza. We need to take those kids of measures if we want to keep people interested in buying our debt, but I guess those kinds of issue don't make good enough political theater.

  • ||

    It's simple: "bipartisan" is the new "mandate".

  • ||

    The idea that opposing a guy who won 53% of the vote is obviously suicide is ridiculous. Maybe if that was 93%. And who knows if the stimulus package will even be popular in November 2010? Rather than suicide, this could be the foundation of a new GOP brand.

  • ||

    James Ard,

    Republicans couldn't be doing anything better than branding themselves the Anti-Obama.

    www.gallup.com/poll/113980/Gallup-Daily-Obama-Job-Approval.aspx

    Maybe they should get Sarah Palin to lead the charge.

  • ||

    Epi: Yeah. Sometimes I look for the meat robots that spew the most cliche and buzzword ridden rants, just for personal entertainment. "Left" vs "Right" -- hilarious!

  • robc||

    When considering the political consequences of this week's events, it's probably a mistake to look only at what got into this bill.

    This I agree with. In the long run, the only wise political move is to vote against the package.

  • Seward||

    Malto Dextrin

    Government spending is roughly 1/5th of the GDP of the U.S. By 2030 I think it is the GAO's prediction that will be in the 40%-45% range. We'd basically be like what a lot of Western European countries look like at that point. With no end in government spending in sight it might of course go higher.

  • ||

    At least they'll be PRETENDING they want to cut government.

    and that's why libertarianism will always fail.
    for you guys featly to your ideology, even if a pretense, is everything.

    (yes, i rejected the possibility that this was spoof.)

  • Seward||

    joe,

    Your poll number statement reminds of what Republicans were saying about Bush in 2002.

  • ||

    Seward,

    Obama's numbers aren't artificially propped up by a big "rally 'round the flag" episode.

  • Elemenope||

    El -
    you missed my question. It was if the implication that Republicans were seeking ideological purity is stupid. Do the house Republicans really have an ideology, or if so, is it what they portray on the outside?


    No, you're just spoiled by being used to dealing with ideologies that are non-retarded and intellectually consistent. An ideology can be as simple as "hey, follow THAT guy!" "Why?" "Cause he has RED hair!" Then the subsidiary commandments of Ginger-worshiping would follow, and they are unimportant.

    Worshiping the old, white elephant is an ideological construct. It is no more or less inconsistent than, say, Christianity. They might even have decoder rings!

    Your standards are way too high.

  • ||

    Government spending is roughly 1/5th of the GDP of the U.S.

    The 1/5 applies to Federal spending. Add state and local to that and you get at least 1/3. And of course, Social Security is "off budget". I know in the case of my personal spending, I'll just declare saving for my retirement "off budget" which means I'll have a nice fat retirement fund set aside at 65 without ever having to contribute to it.

    By 2030 I think it is the GAO's prediction that will be in the 40%-45% range. We'd basically be like what a lot of Western European countries look like at that point.

    Nope. We are also spending trillions on our military and foreign assistance to maintain our empire. Europe largely outsourced this spending to us, so they can fund their massive welfare programs. We can't be like Europe and also be the world's policeman, and if we, in a fit of rationality, decide to let go of our imperial ambitions, Europe will have to defend itself, which will bankrupt their welfare state. Guns OR butter, but not both.

    "The budget should be balanced. Public debt should be reduced. The arrogance of officialdom should be tempered, and assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed, lest Rome become bankrupt." - Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 BC to 43 BC)

  • Seward||

    joe,

    Obama's numbers aren't artificially propped up by a big "rally 'round the flag" episode.

    What, you don't think all the vacuous "economic meltdown" rhetoric isn't a rally around the flag moment?

    Malto Dextrin,

    Good point.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    I'm with Seward: not only is there this "we're all in this together" rallying WRT the economy, but there's an internal yen in most people to want to make this work because of how disappointing Bush was.

    And don't forget...most of America does not hate Bush for the same reasons we hate Bush.

  • alan||

    El -
    You don't think the phrase "will seek ideological purity" in reference to house Republicans is a sign of stupidity?


    Wasn't the last unreadable tome he was fencing a few years back a get back to the GOP roots sort of campaign? Sullivan the biggest swinger in town, thus a retard.

  • ||

    Elemenope,

    I tend to agree with Reinmoose. The Republicans aren't committed to ideological purity, so much as partisan identity at this point. This is not an ideas-based movement right now.

    Seward,

    If the economic meltdown was a "rally 'round the flag" event, it would have helped George Bush. Instead, it killed him.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    it would have helped George Bush. Instead, it killed him.

    *ahem*, joe...did you forget that somehow, someway the economy was blamed on Bush Administration policies?

  • Elemenope||

    Obama's numbers aren't artificially propped up by a big "rally 'round the flag" episode.

    No, they're propped by the most annoyingly self-congratulatory group hug love-in in press history.

  • ||

    If Al Gore or John Kerry or even Dennis Kucinich had been President on 9/11, their numbers would have skyrocketed like Bush's.

    Given the fact that every poll shows a large majority of Republicans opposing the bailout bill, I don't think this is comparable to a "rally 'round the flag" event. After 9/11, Bush had a big net positive approval ratings among Democrats, as did his initiatives to address the crisis (Afghan War, Patriot Act being the most prominent).

  • ||

    *ahem*, joe...did you forget that somehow, someway the economy was blamed on Bush Administration policies?

    Not at all. Right there, that demonstrates that economic crises like this don't function like a military crisis. After all, somehow someway, the 9/11 attacks didn't get blamed on Bush, the Gulf of Tonkin episode didn't get blamed on Johnson, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait didn't get blamed on Poppy Bush, Pearl Harbor didn't get blamed on Roosevelt, ad infinitum.

    As opposed to Herbert Hoover.

    Economic meltdowns don't work the same way as military crises, in terms of their effect on public opinion.

  • MAX HATS||

    Of course the republicans are acting purely out of principle. Of course. How could one possibly argue otherwise. It's January! Republicans don't do politics in January.

  • Seward||

    joe,

    Big problems are a dual edged sword; they don't work simply one way or another. Just like there was a rally around the flag deal for Carter after the Iran hostage crisis started, and then that rallying abated. A similar thing thing happened to GHWB, he got the rally out of GWI, and then the lack of one out of the recession of 91-93.

  • ||

    Seward,

    OK, military episodes that initially produce a rally round the flag effect can turn sour. Ask Dubya about that.

    But for our purposes here, the important point is that the initial effect of a military crisis is skyrocketing support for the President, while that is not the effect of an economic crisis.

  • ||

    But that's all tangential.

    Seward's original point was that Obama's popularity, like Bush's in 2002, is being artificially propped up. I don't think this is true, because of the majority of Republicans who disapprove of him and how he is doing his job.

  • Seward||

    joe,

    The poor results of the Viet Nam brought down the Johnson Presidency. If the Viet Nam war wasn't a military crisis I don't really know what is.

  • shecky||

    The bigger problem with the GOP is that it isn't even really opposed to the stimulus. Pretending doesn't count for much, especially if folks can see through it. Republicans mostly just needs to oppose Obama, if just for symbolic reasons. The GOP also has a thin hope of doing to Obama what the congressional GOP did to Clinton in '93. Unfortunately, it's not '93 anymore. And the GOP wasn't entirely shut out of the recent bill.

    The obsession with ideological purity, even distinguishing some as RINOs seems to carry a certain amount of satisfaction. However, it's also a sign of the ever shrinking GOP big tent. And from where I sit, the looming consensus of what makes a RINO is bad news for Republicans and sympathetic libertarians in general.

  • Seward||

    joe,

    But for our purposes here, the important point is that the initial effect of a military crisis is skyrocketing support for the President, while that is not the effect of an economic crisis.

    Not true of the War of 1812; Madison's popularity sank at the start of that war in part because of the economic difficulties already underway because of Jefferson's moronic embargo.

    Then again, I am sure we could create all sorts of after the fact stories to prove our point. That would pretty boring.

  • Seward||

    Anyway, the fact is that Obama is riding a pretty high wave of support due in significant part to the all the emotionally laden rhetoric we see about the economy. There are other factors of course, including the fact that he is a newly elected President.

  • Seward||

    And even more to the point, and what I was originally driving at, Obama is subject to the same winds of fortuna that Bush was. So a poll number today doesn't really tell us anything about what those numbers will look like come 2010.

  • sage||

    He's already accounted for that, Seward. He said this is going to take a long time. Perhaps even longer than four years. I think he was in Iowa at the time.

  • ||

    Dearest Joe,

    "Freedom is irrelevant. Self-determination is irrelevant. You must comply. Resistance is futile."

  • Jordan||

    Of course the republicans are acting purely out of principle. Of course. How could one possibly argue otherwise. It's January! Republicans don't do politics in January.



    Who are you arguing with? The voices in your head?

  • ||

    Malto,

    "The budget should be balanced. Public debt should be reduced. The arrogance of officialdom should be tempered, and assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed, lest Rome become bankrupt." - Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 BC to 43 BC)

    Word. That is my new sig.

  • Seward||

    I have to add, what exactly are "artificially propped up" poll numbers anyway? Artificial in comparison to what? It seems to me that political fortunes - and thus the attitudes of a public - are context driven and I'm not quite sure how one makes an "artificial context" except perhaps in a totalitarian state. Indeed, it seems to leak into a concept I find somewhat problematic; false consciousness.

  • ||

    Seward,

    Years later it did. That really has nothing to do with the question of whether the Gulf of Tonkin "episode" produced a rally 'round the flag effect.

    As for "artificial," that's a fair enough point. I was going for the concept of "soft" support - support that is obviously the result of some unusual and passing phenomenon, which is not going to be there for very long. In early 2002, a solid majority of Democrats gave Bush positive favorability ratings. That was clearly an artifact of the attacks. His favorability spiked when the attacks happened, and then dropped off.

    Right now, Obama is enjoying the same mid-60s favorability rating he's enjoyed since last spring.

  • ||

    "Negotiation is irrelevant. You will be assimilated."


    Sorry. But have any of you just looked back on old Borg quotes? This is... really creepy.

    I should probably be doing more productive things with my time...

  • ||

    In terms of the cost to Obama of watering down the bill, there is already talk of a new infrastructure bill, and of putting the stripped items into upcoming appropriations bills - bills that the Democrats are now much freer to push through as they want them, thanks to the GOP so visibly dissing bipartisanship

    I have seen the talk, and that's all it is at this point. A lot of talk. We shall see if these things really do show up in a later bill and if said bill actually gets passed. (If the Dems couldn;t sneak Family planning funding into the stimulus, you really think they are gonna be able to sneak it into an appropriations bill or some kind of stand alone bill?? I don't -- especially after how quickly they removed it once the GOP made any noise about it)

    My point though is, the Dems should have known that no matter what concessions they were willing to make to the GOP, politically it made no sense for the GOP to support the bill. The GOP basically got a win win -- they got the concessions/changes they wanted and they still got to oppose the bill.

    Instead of giving up something for nothing, the Dems may as well have put up a pure Dem bill that didn't have any concessions and flexed some political muscle.

    What does it say about the Dems that, considering the control of government they have, they still feel they have to play nice with an opposition that can count on the Dems backing down everytime the GOP says "BOO".

  • MAX HATS||

    Who are you arguing with? The voices in your head?



    The second paragraph of the article.

  • ||

    Instead of giving up something for nothing, the Dems may as well have put up a pure Dem bill that didn't have any concessions and flexed some political muscle.

    What are you talking about? They got plenty out of the tax cuts. Now they get to say this was an attempt to reach across the aisle; they get to say, when this fails completely, that even the Republicans thought it would work.

  • ||

    I got a hundred in my pocket that says Obama will be 20 points lower in approval ratings by October 2010. Another that he'll be below 50% by Oct 2012.

  • ||

    Matthew:

    Yep, the Romans were a lot like us, in more ways than just the architecture of government buildings and debasement of the currency.

    Unfortunately, it looks like we are in the final stage of transitioning from republic to empire, despite the clever checks and balances engineered into our Constitution.

  • ||

    And it won't even be Obama's fault. Pelosi and Reid will show no restraint and blow it for him.

  • MAX HATS||

    Now they get to say this was an attempt to reach across the aisle; they get to say, when this fails completely, that even the Republicans thought it would work.



    ?

    So no republicans voted on it, but the democrats still get to say republicans thought it would work? I mean, they can say that, but no.

    The republicans think they made a politically smart moving voting 177-0 against. If it fails (and the country gets thrashed) they were right. If it succeeds or the country gets better, this will be forgotten.

    What they don't get is that if things get worse, people will say the government didn't do enough, not that it did too much. They're banking on failure, but they better pray the country magically rights itself.

  • Jordan||

    The second paragraph of the article.



    Did you read the entire paragraph. Here's the last sentence:

    Better late than never, etc., especially if you don't confuse newfound opposition with anything like reliable principle.

  • MAX HATS||

    non-reliable principle is still principle, and yes, republicans do play politics in January, especially for things whose effects will very much matter in 2 years.

  • Jordan||

    ...and yes, republicans do play politics in January, especially for things whose effects will very much matter in 2 years.



    A political party playing politics?! Well, I never!

  • MAX HATS||

    No shit.

  • sage||

    republicans do play politics in January, especially for things whose effects will very much matter in 2 years.

    Well considering how much longer each election season is becoming, it's as though these wankers are constantly running for office.

  • ||

    So no republicans voted on it, but the democrats still get to say republicans thought it would work? I mean, they can say that, but no.

    I'm way ahead of you; there's going to be Republican support in the senate, and many Democrats have already come out talking about the tax cuts as something added in the name of bipartisanship.

  • ||

    ChicagoTom,

    (If the Dems couldn;t sneak Family planning funding into the stimulus, you really think they are gonna be able to sneak it into an appropriations bill or some kind of stand alone bill?? I don't -- especially after how quickly they removed it once the GOP made any noise about it) Yes, because they needn't be as concerned about appeasing Republicans after this episode. They didn't strip family planning and add tax cuts because the public demanded them, but as evidence of their desire to work in a bipartisan manner. Now that the Republicans have helped cast themselves as the anti-bipartisan party, it frees up the Democrats.

    My point though is, the Dems should have known that no matter what concessions they were willing to make to the GOP, politically it made no sense for the GOP to support the bill. And my point is that having the GOP very visibly, publicly oppose the bill even after the Democrats made these concessions helps Obama, but allowing him to cast himself as the reasonable, bipartisan one, in contrast to the opposition party. Oh, btw, he gets to take a lot of public heat from left-wing interest groups. My my, don't Democrats hate to take very public heat from left-wing interest groups?

  • ||

    Now they get to say this was an attempt to reach across the aisle; this part is right

    they get to say, when this fails completely, that even the Republicans thought it would work. This part is wrong. The Democrats 1) don't think it will fail, and 2) don't think that blaming Republicans for a bill they voted 100% against will work.

    I'm way ahead of you; there's going to be Republican support in the senate, and many Democrats have already come out talking about the tax cuts as something added in the name of bipartisanship. Hmmmmmmmmmm...you know, a large majority of Democrats in the House voted against the AUMF for Iraq, but it had the support of a majority of Democrats in the Senate. Years later, when the war became unpopular, Republicans suddenly began talking about how much support the AUMF had among Democrats. To this day, you can find people asserting on these threads that the Democrats voted for the Iraq War.

    So maybe that's not as crazy as I first thought.

  • ||

    Maybe you're right, Chi-Tom. If this was Gore or Kerry or Harry Reid, I'd probably consider this a blunder.

    But what sticks in my mind the most about the recent election campaign was Obama's capacity to stay disciplined, and stick to a strategy that paid off for him in the long run, instead of getting distracted by brush fires, or chasing off after every single issue of the day that came up.

    You want to second-guess Obama's political strategy? You're a braver man than I.

  • ||

    The Democrats 1) don't think it will fail,

    Which part? Do you honestly think any of these guys think 200+ billion dollars being spent on health and education will improve the economy?

    Do you even think it?

    To this day, you can find people asserting on these threads that the Democrats voted for the Iraq War.

    Right. Nice observation, too. Obama is definitely pushing a sort of evil agenda by way of terrifying the nation, exactly as Bush did post-9/11.

  • Seward||

    Solana,

    Well, more to the point, roughly 1/2 of the health care spending in the U.S. is done by some level of government. What exactly is another few hundred billion going to do that the hundreds of billions before that hasn't done?

  • ||

    Seward,

    I don't know. What's a bullet to the brain when you're bleeding to death?

    I honestly don't know.

  • ||

    Also, spending on hc is huge, sure; but a lot of this money is sinking into SCHIP specifically, and I think that's going to be our undoing. SCHIP is going to bring us some sort of universal hc. I really believe that.

  • ||

    Solana,

    For real: do you realize that there are people who don't agree with you about economics, or do you think they're all just pretending?

  • ||

    Keynes never talked about spending hundreds of billions of dollars on education and health care as a way to "prime the pump," and neither have any of the Democrats. They all talk about infrastructure. They talk about roads, and wireless this-or-that, and bridges and tunnels.

    So I just want to see this, then, plain as day, typed out in a comment. You, Joe, think spending money (200+ billion dollars) on health care and education in the middle of a massive recession will stimulate the economy?

  • ||

    Clarification: I think these guys believe that the spending is a good thing, but I don't think for a second they believe it will stimulate the economy. The infrastructure spending paired with the tax breaks, I think, they believe will turn the economy around.

    The rest of it (close to half of it) is just a chance to push their agenda.

  • ||

    "The reality is that the reason that a full third of the stimulus is corporate tax breaks was a concession to the GOP."

    I wouldn't jump to that conclusion. If you look at the Corporate Tools Obama has installed as the money guys in his bubble (Lawrence Summers, Robby Rubin, Secretary "Tax" Geithner) I see some pretty special interests telling these things in his ear.

    Ditto for the Family Planning omission. Unlike Bush, Obama is not tone-deaf to the far opposite spectrum of his ideology. He knows its a hornets' nest and doing things like that shakes the nest, badly. Its also one of the reasons that he clumsily invited Mullah Warren to give his "invocation."

    Pelosi only has to win a district in San Francisco. Obama has to win in 2012 over the whole country. Things like the tax breaks, Rick Warren, and tabling Free Abortions or whatever are downpayments for his re-election.

  • ||

    Solana,

    http://yglesias.thinkprogress.org/archives/2009/01/school_construction_stimulus.php

    First one I found.

    Arguments about the use of stimulus funds to avoid layoffs in the health care and education sectors are prominent throughout the web.

  • ||

    Nononono. Not construction. I'm talking about "free" education and "free" health care. I'm talking about billions in scholarships and billions more to expand SCHIP.

    Yes or no. Do you believe that will stimulate the economy?

  • ||

    It may seem like the meaning of the word "bipartisan" changes every 8 years or so, but if you remember that the definition of bipartisan is "doing what the Democrats want to do", you'll be a lot less confused.

  • Tim Cavanaugh||

    "how gutlessly the Republican leadership acquiesced to whatever the Bush administration wanted and how they only managed to discover some interest in resisting massive expenditures when someone from the other party is in the White House."

    Isn't it time to retire this complaint?

    I mean, if the same phenomenon presents in every case, with both parties, 100 percent of the time, shouldn't you just accept that that is the phenomenon?

    Complaining about it seems like complaining that the sky gutlessly acquiesced in being inkily black all night and only managed to discover its interest in light-blueness when the sun was in the sky.

    Same goes for the title of this post. Voting with the majority is bipartisanship by definition (at least in a two-party system). There's nothing unique about Obama claiming agreement with him is the standard of bipartisanship. It is a) true, and b) what every president says.

  • ||

    Where is John Edwards when the dems need an outstanding citizen for a role model?

  • ||

    I´m a bit confused by the supposed lack of Bi-partisanship

    The war on Iraq and the Patriot act were wonderful examples of Bi-partisanship

    When leaders have huge popularity ratings, a subserviant media and bi-partisanship they're just bound to do intelligent things

  • ||

    Andrew Sullivan's not a complete idiot, he just seems very prone to sway with the winds of American politics.
    I think that anyone who supported the war on Iraq prior to the Invasion, has shown such a profound lack of knowledge of the basic political ideologies of various world regimes/non state politcal movements that it would be difficult to take them seriously on issues of world affairs.
    Saying that its always interesting to read his stuff because he does seem really to catch the zeitgeist of US sentiment, from the rabid paranoia that believed that a secular arab socialist would give material support to an islamist fundamentalist seeking to reinstate caliphate, right on to admitting he was traumatized by 9/11, had made a mistake and then jumping full on the Obama wagon.
    The Sullivan thing is far more interesting to read those weirdo religous fuckwits who claim to be "Conservatives"

  • ||

    "that's why libertarianism will always fail"

    It´s interesting that people say that because on alot of issues it really has become accepted internationally.

    I was watching the British PM Gordon Brown being interviewed at Davos.

    He´s a social democrat from a originally Marxist party, Labour, and fairly represtative of how you need to be to win power as a left wing leader in the EU.

    He cracked a pop a Hayek (Grrr bring it on fatboy) and talked about global government for economic regulation which are to decidedly unlibertarian things.

    However he spoke about the errors of trying to peg the value of currency, the importance of free trade and the evils of protectionism.

    30 years ago these ideas were commonly accepted by right and left and even in time of global economic crisis they appear to remain discreditted.

    Without Hayek, Friedmann et al its hard to imagine we would have arrived at this point.

    So yes the US Libertarian Party will probably never win anything but the ideas both economic and social filter into global society.

  • ||

    "hey, I live in Atlanta - the only other options are country or rap"

    Its gotta be said I listen to a lot of crap, anything that comes from the folk and blues tradition, memphis soul, psychedelia, punk, dub, roots, afrobeat, acid house, I worship at the feet of leonard Cohen and Arthur Lee (praise be upon him) and right now I'm totally digging Krautrock which is german electronic/acidrock/jazz fusion from the 70's.

    But saying that nothing beats country and hip hop! especially the stuff from the South. In the 90's the Goodie Mobb, Oukast, Erykak Badu Bubba Sparxxx were making some of the best music in the world. Country rocks aswell. Real working class music.

    Its funny that you say that because when people ask me what music I like I actually do say country and hip hop just because its the two forms of music that are the most hated by European intellectuals.
    Which is a good enough reason to do anything.

    European musics alright

    www.youtube.com/watch?v=2CUBrUZ-Qv0

    but still there's just not the talk about guns, drugs and bitches that you get in a country track

    right pub time

  • Jim Treacher||

    Call him shrill if you like, but he's no retard.

    True. The preferred term is "differently abled."

    Andrew Sullivan's not a complete idiot, he just seems very prone to sway with the winds of American politics.

    And bold, cutting-edge theories on the capabilities of the female reproductive system.

    In terms of the cost to Obama of watering down the bill, there is already talk of a new infrastructure bill, and of putting the stripped items into upcoming appropriations bills - bills that the Democrats are now much freer to push through as they want them, thanks to the GOP so visibly dissing bipartisanship.

    Getting those Democrats to vote with them isn't bipartisan?

    Right now, Obama is enjoying the same mid-60s favorability rating he's enjoyed since last spring.

    I'm sure it'll go even higher once he gives everybody free gas and pays their mortgages and ends Islamic terrorism with a wave of his sacred hand.

  • ||

    The other factor at play here, which Democratic ears seem unable to detect, is that Obama is skillfully turning the meaning of the word "bipartisan" into "the coalition that agrees with my magnanimous self."
    ----------

    This pithy passage would be so much more telling if you had just one time in the last eight years commented on George Bush's habit of using 'bipartisan' to mean 'the coalition that agrees with my deciding self'. When Obama gets around to calling those who disagree with him 'traitors', well, then, maybe you'll be on to something. Until then, what you are doing is just hackery.

  • ||

    The name of this website/magazine is "REASON"?

    Is that supposed to be ironic?
    Judging from the original article and the posts I have read, I think that is the case.

    Or have I stumbled onto a masked site for WorldNetDaily? I didn't think Scaife was that ingenious.
    Duck, there is a black helicopter overhead.

    The libertarian movement used to think harder.

  • Jim Treacher||

    This pithy passage would be so much more telling if you had just one time in the last eight years commented on George Bush's habit of using 'bipartisan' to mean 'the coalition that agrees with my deciding self'. When Obama gets around to calling those who disagree with him 'traitors', well, then, maybe you'll be on to something.

    I'm sure you can provide a quote of George Bush calling his opponents traitors.

  • ||

    Someone said

    "At this point, it's pretty obvious to me that we no longer live in anything approaching a representative democracy with a free market economy. Rather, it's more like post-industrial feudalism. Back in the middle ages, the serfs had to hand over about 1/3 of each year's crops to the Lord of the Manor. How much of the GDP does the government spend/redistribute each year? At least that much."

    This is such a boring and inaccurate refrain.
    The lions share of the budget is entitlements -- and this problem needs to be addressed but is next to impossible because the average american is a greedy moron (and the average older american is even greedier and more moronic).

    This is like the idiots complaining that Exxon Mobil had too many profits last year -- almost all of exxon's profits basically go back to the stockholders, but morons act like it goes into the ceo's pockets.

  • ||

    Larison was correct in his analysis of the political aspects of this and after all that's what he was talking about.

    "The lions share of the budget is entitlements -- and this problem needs to be addressed but is next to impossible because the average american is a greedy moron (and the average older american is even greedier and more moronic)."

    Something of an exaggeration I think.

  • ||

    How come Republican Governors are supporting the Obama stimulus bill?

  • rufus||

    'The name of this website/magazine is "REASON"?'

    Do you think people constantly do this on other sites? 'This is called 'THE ONION'? Well, it sure isn't tasty and multi-layered like an onion!'

  • Jim Treacher||

    "Um, I just read your whole newsmagazine, and I didn't see a clock anywhere!"

  • ||

    "So that he can even more smoothly carry out the urgent bipartisan business of installing Big Labor in the West Wing."

    Better that than the unholy alliance of Big Money and Big Religion that has ruled the White House for most of the last thirty years. At least Big Labor, with all its faults, actually serves the real-life needs of more average Americans than either Big Money or Big Religion.

    But don't worry. Obama uses Big Labor as just another tool. Some of us see that as just another sign of his adept leadership skills.

  • Jim Treacher||

    Obama uses Big Labor as just another tool. Some of us see that as just another sign of his adept leadership skills.

    Yes, some of you do.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    And don't forget...most of America does not hate Bush for the same reasons we hate Bush.


    How do their reasons differ from your reasons?

  • Constant Weader||

    Nice try. But remember that Obama already gave the Republicans the big ol' tax cuts they like so much, & when they had the patently stupid idea that reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies WOULDN'T help the economy, Obama said, "Okay, we'll take that out." Obama HAS tried to meet the Boehnerheads halfway, but they don't play well with others.

    The Constant Weader at www.RealityChex.com

  • ||

    "Nononono. Not construction. I'm talking about "free" education and "free" health care. I'm talking about billions in scholarships and billions more to expand SCHIP."

    I'm no economist, but I am newly unemployed, and would welcome a chance to spend a few bucks on a new suit for job interviews, instead of out-of-pocket dental fillings.

    Also, let's say I'm just out of high school. And my family isn't rich. If I can either (1) go to school or (2) get out there and compete for low-paying entry level jobs or (3) join a branch of the military, is my decision a mystery? Besides, I really don't want to compete for that entry level/low wage job with the soaring number of newly unemployed professionals who are suddenly vying for work traditionally done by younger, unskilled folks like me. I'd rather go to school and let that sad old dude with the toothache, the family and the tired old suit go after that retail job.

    Seriously though: am I missing something or doesn't providing cheap or free college help our economy in two powerful ways: by reducing the number of people competing for a shrinking pool of jobs and by (presumably) helping churn out a new workforce with skills attuned to the current and near future job market (hopefully a workforce of scientists, engineers and technologists)?

    And about the free health care... Record and growing numbers of unemployed Americans are dealt the double-whammy (abrupt loss of primary income along with instant assumption of the full costs of their family's health care). The double-whammy, by the way, can push a teetering family into the triple-whammy (foreclosure), as can any major health emergency. Health care costs continue to lead by a huge margin the reasons for American bankruptcies, even in the gilded pre-credit crisis, post-cold war age of American prosperity.

    I mean, the potential economic stimulus of unburdening financially imperiled Americans from the crushing costs of family health care (much less from the calamitous health emergencies we all pray won't happen) seem obvious to me. But I'm probably biased on this issue because I'm actually having to pay for my family's health insurance via COBRA extended coverage right now. Married couple plus kid means $890.00 per month.

    I'd rather buy us a new car with that money. And I hear now is the time for bargains! Those Big 3 automobiles are priced to keep their manufacturers from going out of business.

    Sorry if my post veered from respectful disagreement into snarky. :0)

  • ||

    On the stimulative effect of health care expenditures, etc.

    Members of the Republic party are making lots of noise about how health care payments have no stimulative effect, (like some posters here), because Keynes et al. talked primarily about industrial stimulus.

    But Keynes was living in an industrial economy, whereas we live in a largely service economy. Therefore, spending on services is likely to be stimulative.

    I mean, this is just dumb: does money spent on health care just go 'poof' and vanish? Of course not: it goes to pay nurses and doctors and administrators, and it goes to buy new or replacement equipment and computers in hospitals and doctors' offices. Likewise, the availability of health insurance for kids in lower-middle class families allows them to avoid the risk of bankruptcy through medical expenses, or the high cost of private health insurance, meaning they are more likely to consider increasing their spending on clothing, auto repair, etc. etc.

    Why doesn't anyone in the Republic party get this? Do they think people in the health care industry don't vote?

  • Michael Ejercito||

    I mean, the potential economic stimulus of unburdening financially imperiled Americans from the crushing costs of family health care (much less from the calamitous health emergencies we all pray won't happen) seem obvious to me. But I'm probably biased on this issue because I'm actually having to pay for my family's health insurance via COBRA extended coverage right now. Married couple plus kid means $890.00 per month.


    Price controls on health care would keep health care costs down.

    There might be some side effects, though.

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