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The Hard Lift

By John Martin - Posted on 14 February 2009

By this point it's obvious that Republicans in the House were not voting on the merits of the stimulus(/stimulus +) bill.  If their main point was just to establish what they are capable of, and that they're not going to just roll over to the Democrats' large majorities, then I think their otherwise pig-headed rejection of this legislation might serve some purpose.  Over the past few weeks, the GOP established that they can hold their entire conference together, even on legislation that should have been pretty easy for each individual member to support.

I'm hoping this sends a signal to Pelosi/Reid.  The Democrats didn't need Republican support this time around, but they will need it in the future. 

The public sees Obama's overtures to the right, and they see that he is far more centrist than people tried to portray him during the campaign.  Assuming the economy bounces back at least fairly well, he's going to be in a good position come 2012. 

For Democrats in the House, however, they need to be able to peel off a Republican here and there, or at least make the GOP look persistently irrational if they're going to get anything done.  This might mean making some concessions and occasionally killing the Republicans with kindness.  The nation knows we have many challenges ahead.  The blame is going to fall flatly on Pelosi if the GOP can defeat legislation in the future. 

Here's a pretty good exchange from Shields and Brooks last night:

JUDY WOODRUFF: So just to come back to this quickly, too much emphasis, do you think, David, on trying to reach across the aisle? Was that just a misguided idea?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, that's what some are saying, but I still think that's the only way you're going to solve -- listen, solve the real problems. This bill, the stimulus bill that passed, is giving away free money, giving away money. That is not the hard lift.

The hard lift is when you actually ask people to sacrifice. And so they're going to need bipartisanship on that stuff, and so it's still useful to try to work on it and build it.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But if they didn't get it on an easy one, then -- because you're saying...

DAVID BROOKS: Well, you can structure things differently. When they get to entitlements, when they get to housing, finance, it will be possible...

MARK SHIELDS: That will be the test. He certainly has laid the predicate of goodwill, of reaching across, of establishing personal relations.

Obama's goodwill (and actual political moderation) will be enough to let him survive.  If Pelosi knows what's good for her party and what's good for the country, she's going to have to give Republicans more of a reason to break ranks every now and then.  

What more can you do though?


And they voted against it.

I've discussed before how Pelosi has drawn her own line in the sand with President Obama, in a huge partisan power play.  If she's not careful, it will backfire on her, as Obama's approval ratings remain high, hers remain quite low.  She is the Democrat's version of everything Obama campaigned against.

Warsame, you ask what more can you do?  There are a couple of things.

The main mistake made by Pelosi and her party was when they did not include Republicans, not even one, in the original drafting of the bill.  It is my understanding that no Republicans were allowed to even come into the room while the legislation was being written.  As President Obama himself wanted about 40% of the bill to be in tax cuts, including one or two Republicans from the beginning  would have been a very good show of  of bipartisanship, and a show of working with the spirit of the new administration.

The second big mistake was attempting to include things that were not at all stimulating to the economy, which the President made her remove.  But by then the damage was done, and it gave the GOP an excuse to avenge themselves by calling it "pork", and unifying against the bill.

If Pelosi wants to ride on Obama's coat tails, she needs to operate within his framework of how he wants business to be done in Washington.  She cannot draw partisan battle lines in the beginning, then solely blame the other side for their lack of bipartisanship.  "Bi" means two, and in order for bipartisanship to work, both parties must be willing to work with the opposition.

 I am in no way making excuses for the way the Congressional Republicans handled this bill.  I was angry and disappointed by their theatrics.  But the Democrats cannot count on the same three Republicans to vote with them on every issue.  If they want to get important legislation through Congress, Pelosi needs to learn how to do things Obama's way, and work with the Republicans from the beginning.  SHE needs to learn the meaning of bipartisanship, and give more than lip service to President Obama's call for change in Washington.




After senator spector said his fellow republicans praised him for standing up for the stimulus, and he ask if he would vote with him-------He said he can't, because he might just be able to run again if he don't. Spector said, Republicans are for the stimulus, but don't want to leave their own finger prints on it! He's not the only way who proves John Martins theory right. Gregg after backing out of the commerce position in Obama's adm., said that "Obama was never going to get more than those three republicans from the very start of this". Mike steele, calls the stimulus BLing, Bling! Ya, bling bling! They are praying and banking on this stimulus to fail, and most of them don't care if America goes in the toilet as long as it puts the GOP back on top. The thing is, this is seeen as such a act of cowardes by the republicans, and you have steele on T.V saying he understand why Americans no longer truest them, because they've got caught in lies! I think the people are looking upon the republicans AS cowardes, an are thinking if they at least tried they could have inproved this stimulus, and Obama keeps opening the door to their imput and idea's . That really makes them all look real bad when the president is on T.V saying he's listening , but republicans won't contribute. Their reason for not supporting  this one after another that we hear makes NO sense! Some are just plain stupid reasons, and others like their is nothing in it we want and we all know that is a lie with all the tax cuts in this stimulus. So the repugs don't look good if the works or fails NOW!

I agree with what you say, jupitor, but we must also remember to look at the role that Pelosi and her gang played in this.  Obama wants bipartisanship from both sides, and it won't work otherwise.

I need to remind you that "repugs" is an insulting term, and not allowed on this site.  We can't build national unity by name calling from either side.  Thank you for understanding.

I am sorry about the insult. As this is a term my grandson taught me. He says I am a repug who's angry, and I need to calm down. I guess he get's it from the net? I'm not sure why it would be a insult however. I do not find it a insult, as I would not find calling a Demacrate a Dem/ But as you wish suzi, if others find it offensive I will remember not to use the short cut words for he partys any more and I apologize. I do agree with Nancy Polosi's mouth got this started. However, These people are suppose to be adults, not kids who get hurt feeling at a drop of a hat. I find polosi offensive every day of the week. Therefore, I listen to those I can feel good about, and let her roll of my back. It's funny this reminds me of a piece in our local paper that angered me! A educator said that our kids need to "Let things roll off their back, and not make a big deal out of everything, because one day they will have to have a employer they hate to work for, and can't talk back to if they want to keep their Job". There kids! They need to be taught to cope, and by pass those who affend them. But, these are adults! They should have learned by now that this is Polosi, and she won't change now! If Obama's willing to stay in there and keep trying to work with all, than so should they! We didn't send them there to back off or go run an hide, because one of their workers is a snob and says things that hurt their feelings! So it's not WHO starts the fight, it's who stay calm and end the fight in a manner that allows them to go on in a constructive way. Now isn't that what you want to teach your children suzi? You can't tell me that you believe over 100 republican senators couldn't work constructively with the Demacrates because Polosi hurt their feelings! These are adult , and some have proven to have big voice's and pushy personalities, just like polosi! I think if they want to be heard, and were ready to compromise an work together, they would have done it, don't you? NO suzi, this was planed and is being used to further their party! They are hopeing for failure just like RUSH said. But, at least he was honest enought to say it out loud with out makeing up excuse's!

I'll address the term "repug" means repugnant.   To shorten Republicans to Rep or Repub is fine. ( To use repug is the same as calling Dems Dumbocrats or Democraps, which are not allowed here either.)  Another insulting term for Reps is "rethugs".  I feel quite sure you hadn't thought this out, and I appreciate your being willing to abide by our rules, as always.

I agree with everything that you said.  Adults need to behave as such.  ALL of them.  The Reps should have risen above Pelosi's antics, and I agree that they had a planned strategy to block Obama.  The thing is, by not including one single Republican in drafting the bill, Pelosi and her gang gave them all the excuse they needed to behave in such a horrid manner.  (Note I said excuse, not a good reason.)   The partisanship shown by the Republicans is horrid, and I am very angry over it.  But, that does not excuse the partisanship shown by Pelosi and some of the Democrats.  Reid, on the other hand, handled things very well on the Senate side for the Democrats, IMO.  Therefore, the Senate Republicans have no excuse for their theatrical negativity.

If being partisan is wrong for one, it is wrong for the other.  My prayer is that Obama will continue to reach out, but continue to push things through if the Republicans slap his hand away.  I also pray that Obama can convince Pelosi that her actions (not just her words) are hurting his ability to implement his vision for the country.  She needs to fall in line with her President and the head of her party.  If she can behave as well as Reid in getting things done, and lead the House Dems as well as Reid led the Senate Dems, she will at least give the appearence of being inclusive.  If the Republicans then continue to act in such an obstructionist manner, they will have no one to blame but themselves, and will pay the price at election time.

Is it bad that I refer to myself as a Rethug on a regular basis?     
As long as you don't put it in writing at RFO, I have no problem with it. ;-)

Fair enough, Suzi. 

It is worth noting, that if I was a Dem, I would probably refer to myself as a Demoncrat, or something silly like that.  I just roll like that.    



What does that even mean anyway?

I like the way you disavow the use of the mean slang for Democrats and Republicans but can easily refer to the Democratic Reps as "the gang".




I sense that both you and Pres. Obama maybe learned something about the ways of washington.

Partisanship matters.

As much as Obama might like more cooperation, he can not dictate the business of the house of representatives. A lot of these people have been politicos since Obama was a young man on the South Side of Chicago.

The bill highlighted ideological differences. Republican believe government is the problem, so it shouldn´t do anything and just let more americans get tax breaks and everything will sort out.

While Democrats, look at Government as a check-and balance of social justice and inequality. And the last stance against against economic globalisation, sometimes arguing for economic nationalism (mainly labor groups). 

The bill was never going to be bipartisan, as it was an ideological one. And there was noway that a more conservative base was going to let their elected officials vote for something like this. Specter is gone for 2010, because he won´t survive a primary 

"Specter is gone for 2010, because he won´t survive a primary."

I wouldn't count him out yet - there's something to be said in favor of moderation and I think the public isn't nearly so partisan as our politicians.

The bill was never going to be bipartisan, as it was an ideological one.

With such a huge part of this bill consisting of tax cuts, Pelosi should have been able to spin this as bipartisanship on steroids.  She should have taken some sort of Republican input, and then emerged saying "We worked with the Republicans, and now we have a bipartisan stimulus plan that not only includes short-term federal spending, but also puts money in the pockets of hard-working Americans.  I'd like to thank Congressman (insert Republican lawmaker here) and Congressman (insert Republican lawmaker here) for helping craft this important legislation."



Yeah, but why didn´t republicans also take credit? Say that they worked with the new president in the spirit of bipartisanship and passed the largest tax cut in american history and that they look forward working with the new administration on the many issues facing the nation.

I mean, it would be a masterstroke politically and would really give them more influence than what their numbers really say, right now

Or am i really stupid, here? 

I don't get it, either.  They should be bragging about being able to make dents into what the Democrats wanted.  They could even say, "See?  The Democrats knew that art funding, sod funding, etc. shouldn't have been in a stimulus bill. Did they not think the American people would catch them at their old game?," or something like that.

I'm not sure if the overall size of the tax cut was the largest-- maybe top 2 or 3-- but still!  

Well, seeing as how what they wanted was a plan that was 100% tax cuts, they see this bill as a defeat, not a victory. Somewhere between 1994 and 2004, Republican lawmakers abandoned the concept of compromise.

It's sad that we've reached a point where 'government service' is a dirty word... If we're the greatest country on earth, maybe we can have the greatest government.

Lewis Black

Specter is gone for 2010, because he won´t survive a primary.

I'm a registered Republican in PA and Specter will win my vote in a primary if he keeps this up.  I want someone who represents me and my state, not our devolving political party.  The RNC should think twice about going after Specter in a primary as they will all but guarantee another Democrat in the Senate if they do.


But I like your idealism though, it brings a smile 


Suzi: As you find repug offensive, would not Demacrates find you calling Them "Polosi and her gang"! Who's in that gang? Who's excluded from that gang? what are their agenda as a gang? Do you really think she did this on purpose, or just got athusiastic that they were finally in power and could change the course of the nation? Now I really really really don't like the lady at all, but I may like a few of those that follow her because they simply have gotton tired of the Bush/Channey years an down fall! Calling them the "Gang", could cause ruffled feathers also, wouldn't you think? That's what I tried to explain badly in why I was not offense on the word repug! I saw it as a short cut party nam, like Dem that I don't find offensive either! It's how we look at things, The way you explain it, repug is offensive and would be so in those terms or thought of in that way, However you useing "The Gang" to describe Polosi and those that followed her steps that faitful day is also offensive. Polosi often sticks her foot in her mouth like Mccain did-------but niether means harm to our country rather we like them or not. What is offensive for one is not thought of in the same manner for another! However, I will stop useing it as a politness and to compesate with you! It's just a sshame isn't it that it could be that easy for those in Washington to use this example of compromiseing! (spelled it wrong up above and to lazy to go back an change it) I'm haveing a off day today.

jupitor, as the RFO board moderator, I don't make the rules.  My job is to enforce them for the general tone of the board.  Many Republicans find the terms repug or rethug to be offensive, for the reasons I explained; whereas perfectly acceptable shortcuts are Rep or Repub.  I've already given you the Dem names that are equally offensive and not allowed to be used either.   For the same reasons, we do not allow profanity, and other things explained in the TOS. 

My job is to keep the conversation from becoming derogatory and/or insulting to the majority of users, and to maintain a civil and respectful tone on the board.  It has nothing to do with what I do or don't find personally offensive. I'm just doing my job.  My personal opinions carry no more weight than any one else's here.

Thank you for your co-operation, I really appreciate it.  You're right about Washington, they should be as willing to work together for the good of the majority.

I sure hope your day gets better!

What we have to remember about Specter and even Governor Crist of Florida isn't just them trying to work around the fact that Obama by a good majority won their states, but also that this stimulus has some pork outlets.

And before some of you go whine about pork, American people always hate pork except when it comes home to them! God knows how many politicians have lost their jobs because they failed to bring home the bacon.

Crist wants a cut, Specter does too...and hey, neither can be criticized for not getting a piece of the pie for their home people when the next election rolls around.

Nevermind that until January 3, 2011 at least, each Specter/Snowe/Collins vote will be more more valuable than 20 Conservative Senate GOP votes combined!

suzi' did not kknow that information! It's good to know in the future as we debate and talk about the problems this country has. It's nice to have all opinions and a lot of opinions to choose from. I will keep this in mind in the future and thank you for the update! did not mean to step on anyones toes there! Sorry! Maybe I should learn more about this monitoring thing that goes on and to know it probally happens on all sights. I thought YOU monitored this sight. See how much I kknow? I got a lot to learn, I guess!

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