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Stimulus politics
Why Republicans are betting against Obama’s recovery plan
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ast week, President Obama “ushered in the post-partisan era,” said Dana Milbank in The Washington Post. On Tuesday he met with House Republicans to discuss his $825 billion economic stimulus plan, and “it looks as if the post-post-partisan era is already upon us.” After the meetings, GOP lawmakers “said very nice things” about Obama, but 12 or fewer are expected to back the bill—far short of Obama's goal.

Obama’s insistence on broad bipartisan support for the stimulus bill is “clever,” said Ericka Andersen in Culture11, but so far his idea of bipartisanship “just means hoping Republicans will agree with him.” They don’t—most genuinely think broad tax cuts, not spending, is the right strategy, and the bill’s $300 billion in “tax relief” isn’t enough to win them over.

“It grieves me to say so,” said Irwin Stelzer in The Weekly Standard, but "Obama’s conservative critics just don’t get it.” The White House plan is “more coherent than they are willing to admit”—spend and cut taxes now, build infrastructure that has “positive social value,” then attack the “post-recession deficits” by reforming Medicare. Even if it doesn’t work, the GOP needs more than “a ‘we told you so’ campaign” to benefit.

Well, so far, that seems to be the Republican plan, said Josh Marshall in Talking Points Memo. And really, they could be right “that only failure will work for them politically.” If Obama’s stimulus bill “is judged a success,” they won’t get much credit. But they could get political milage by criticizing the bill, pushing for “as many non-stimulus inducing tax cuts as possible,” then voting against the final bill “en masse.”

“I’m actually delighted that the GOP is back to what it does best,” said Andrew Sullivan in The Atlantic online: “being an all-round grinch when it comes to spending.” But it is also heartening to see a president “happy to walk the halls of Congress for the public good.” That was missing under Bush, even with House Republicans. With “less ego” in the White House, maybe Washington will get more done.

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