As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

GOP Obstruction In Conflict With GOP Future

I wouldn't read a whole lot into the Gallup poll showing Congress' approval rating up to 31%. I think they're drafting off of Obama's honeymoon a bit, and since they were able to put a stimulus package on the President's desk (despite the sausage-making), they're getting a little credit for that. More than anything it suggests the power of sustained action. All the ratings increases come from Democrats. As Congress is able to get a few Democratic bills done with their increased numbers (Ledbetter, SCHIP, the stimulus), Democrats are rewarding them. And seeing that the stimulus foretells a new era of social spending in Washington, the preferred action for Democrats is to continue moving on these crucial priorities in areas like health care and energy. As they expand recovery to the greatest possible number of Americans, that number will return the compliment.

What the numbers do say is that Republican intransigence is flopping. It makes for fun backslapping and Aerosmith videos, but I think the public isn't biting at all. And the consequent desperation of Republican attacks - really, Barack Obama is responsible for the stock market from the moment he was ELECTED? - shows that even their lines of attack are thin and meager. Many Republican Governors are backing away from their rump faction and building bridges to the popular President because they actually have to govern, and as such can't fall back on conservative ideology, which has no use in a crisis.

The words of Bill Clinton, still great at giving Republicans hell, are worth noting:

Roberts: What do you think of the job that President Obama did on steering the stimulus plan through Congress, and does he in fact have the experience necessary to be a good president, reach across party lines and craft a bipartisan bill?

Clinton: Well first of all, he has reached across, and it takes two to tango. I find it amazing that the Republicans who doubled the debt of the country in eight years and produced no new jobs doing it, gave us an economic record that was totally bereft of any productive result are now criticizing him for spending money. You know, I'm a fiscal conservative, I balanced the budget, I ran surpluses. If I were in his position today, I would be doing what he's doing. Why? Because the problem with the economy is the housing decline led to the general decline in values. Assets are going down. This stimulus is our bridge over troubled waters till the bank reforms kick in. He did the right thing, he did everything he could to get Republican support. He took some of their tax-cutting ideas.

But if you look at this bill, it is designed do three things. And it does all three. It puts money in the hands of people who need money to survive -- unemployment benefits, food stamp benefits, tax cuts. Second thing it does is to give money to state and local governments so they don't have to lay a million people off or raise taxes. Either one would be bad for the economy. The third thing is it does is create new jobs. Given the Congress he had and the environment and the speed with which they had to move, I think he did a fine job with this.

And that's what Americans are responding too.

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