Stating the Obvious

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January 27, 2009 5:43 a.m.

I hear a lot of talk about whether Obama’s governing approach can be ‘bipartisan’ if a good number of Republicans don’t vote for his Stimulus Bill. But that dubious point seems to be obscuring a more obvious and telling reality: the Republican leadership in both houses has decided that it’s in their political interest to oppose the Stimulus Bill no matter what.

In the most cynical of evaluations, it’s not clear to me that they’re incorrect. If the stimulus is judged a success, their political gain from adding more votes to what will be seen as Obama’s bill will not be that great. So they’re figuring that only failure will work for them politically; and they judge that they want Obama to own it entirely.

One can pick apart the political ethics of their stand, but the reality of it is clear. They want to criticize as many provisions of the bill as possible, push for as many non-stimulus inducing tax cuts as possible at the expense of spending on infrastructure, and then vote against the final bill en masse. I think it’s possible Obama will get a smattering of moderate Republicans in the senate. But that is the Boehner/McConnell approach — and the one few if any reporters seem to have the wherewithal to say out loud.

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