Aa noted on the main page, the Stimulus Bill passed the House last night without a single Republican vote. President Obama had met with Republican leaders, heard their concerns. Obama made concessions that he wouldn't have made if he didn't want Republican support. As the vote indicated, he didn't need any Republican votes in the House and only needs a couple in the Senate.
Here is just a partial list off the top of my head of the items that Obama and the Democrats compromised on:
- Including nearly $270 billion in tax cuts, including a one-year fix for the alternative minimum tax which will cost the treasury almost $75 billion in revenue.
- Family planning and contraceptive support for poor families. Complained about, gone.
- $200 million for renovations to the National Mall. Complained about, gone.
There are further examples, I'm sure. We're busy and I haven't focused in closely on details.
And still the House GOP unanimously turned their backs on the new president.
The Republicans are playing a very dangerous game here. As Karl Rove said, “elections have consequences.” Three years ago it was the GOP running roughshod over the Democratic minority. They should expect no better now. They are given a seat at the table however. They request and get concessions but then collectively turn their backs on the bill when it's time to vote.
As far as I can tell, the Republicans think they are playing the president. They are engaged in a very high-stakes gamble that the stimulus plan will not work. They figure by the time the mid-terms roll around the public will have turned on Obama's “change” and sweep them back into power so they can… do what exactly?
The concessions the GOP asked for amounted to the same old GOP policies of the last eight years. Lower taxes for businesses and the rich, Devil-take-the-hindmost. Culture War attacks on programs for public health and family planning.
Obama does not need GOP support in the House. In the Senate he only needs the occasional vote of Senators Snowe, Specter, McCain and any combination of one or two others he can peel away on any given issue.
Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight wrote a typically numerically dense analysis of the GOP House prospects in light of changing demographics in the country. The news isn't good for the GOP.
Basically, the Republicans aren't competitive virtually anywhere on the Eastern Seaboard north of Washington, D.C., and virtually anywhere on the Pacific Coast north of Monterey. They aren't competitive in virtually any dense urban center, or in virtually any majority-minority district (such as the black belt in the South or Hispanic-majority districts in South Texas). Finally, there are a dozen or so districts where Republicans are virtually nonexistent because of the presence of a large College or University. Collectively, that adds up to a lot of districts — almost a third of the country.
Conversely, the Democrats have very few districts in which they can't play some angle or another. Nearly all of the Republican-dominated districts fit into a particular template: white, Southern, rural or exurban, lower-middle class (but not usually impoverished), low-mobility, with poorly-diversified economies reliant on traditional sectors like manufacturing or agriculture. There are only a couple dozen such districts throughout the country.
Although the Republicans face an arduous task in crafting a path to 270 electoral votes, finding 218 viable seats in the Congress might represent the more difficult challenge.
The upshot of all this is that the GOP is bereft of new ideas, continuing to drift further to the right and is therefore placing itself in a deeper and deeper demographic hole. But they continue to raise the stakes and place the long-shot bet: that Obama will fail nearly as spectacularly as Bush, and that a disgusted nation will sweep them back into power.
That's their choice and they have every right to make it. But I don't want to hear any whining when and if in 2010 the Democrats reach the magic number of 60 in the Senate and the GOP is left completely out in the cold.
The GOP need to get smart. As Obama said in his inaugural address, “the ground has shifted beneath their feet.” In politics as in everything else, there is but one imperative: adapt or die. Right now, it seems the GOP is living is living in a shrinking political ecosystem.
cman in clinton blog