Sometimes we in the netroots are too impatient, I will admit. I still think that the stimulus bill was unnecessarily pre-compromised to gain Republican support that was not coming no matter what. But at least Obama and his team appear to be seizing the rhetorical and political opportunity from the big goose egg that Republicans put on the board yesterday. Robert Gibbs previewed the strategy this morning:
Pushing back against the unanimous House Republican vote against President Obama’s stimulus plan, the White House plans to release state-by-state job figures “so we can put a number on what folks voted for an against,” an administration aide said.
“It’s clear the Republicans who voted against the stimulus represent constituents who will be stunned to learn their member of Congress voted against [saving or] creating 4 million jobs,” the aide said.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the lawmakers will have to answer to their constituents.
“I do believe that there will be people in districts all over the country that will wonder why, when there’s a good bill to get the economy moving again, why we still seem to be playing political gotcha," Gibbs said.
In addition, surrogates for the Administration are slamming Republicans with a new ad that has a simple tag line: "Support the Obama plan for jobs, not the failed policies of the past."
That's bound to be helpful. And MoveOn has gone to their membership to help fund it.
I mean, this is elemental. More people are receiving unemployment benefits than at any time in history. Other economic indicators are bleak. New home sales are way down. Durable goods orders from businesses are way down. Without a massive stimulus the country will sink into something approaching a depression. And the GOP would rather root for failure? There's a very broad canvas here, and Obama has his sterling personal approval ratings on his side as well.
In response, House Republicans are whining, and trying again to use Obama's post-partisan unity shtick against him.
House Republicans are reacting strongly to reports that the White House plans a political onslaught to pressure Republicans into supporting the stimulus package and to punish those who don't.
House Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) will soon issue a statement contending that Obama's promise to "put an end to petty politics" is "threatened" as the White House and their allies "are making political threats rather than crafting a bipartisan economic stimulus plan."
He'll call on Obama to "immediately disavow" plans by liberal interest groups who have announced their intention to run attack ads against the Republicans. These groups, organized under the Americans United for Change umbrella, coordinate regularly with Congressional Democrats and are in touch with White House officials.
But look, everyone who went up against Obama in the election tried this, making the argument that "post-partisanship" means Obama can never criticize anyone, and it didn't work. With discredited Republicans making the argument, it won't work now either.
Better still, there are rumblings in the Democratic caucus that Republicans had their chance and now the bill must make sense instead of being targeted to appeal to their narrow interests.
Sen. John Kerry says Democrats should ignore Republicans’ demands about the stimulus plan if they’re going to vote against it anyway.
Reacting to Wednesday night’s vote in the House -- where not a single GOP member supported the stimulus package -- Kerry told Politico that “if Republicans aren’t prepared to vote for it, I don’t think we should be giving up things, where I think the money can be spent more effectively.”
“If they’re not going to vote for it, let’s go with a plan that we think is going to work.”
If this ends with Democrats and the White House learning that bipartisanship is a phantom and ultimately they'll be judged on effectiveness, so every decision from this point forward had better be based on what will work, then we'll end up in a pretty good place.
UPDATE: I want to see a story like this about a Republican every day.
A reliable source tells us that after voting against the economic stimulus package that would preserve and create jobs, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann sat in First Class on her way home on a Northwest flight from Washington to Minneapolis, via Detroit.
Upgrade with frequent flyer miles? Self-indulgence?
The disconnect between what real people are facing and Republican do-nothings should be made. It's not a cheap shot, it's political reality.