Block the stimulus, help the GOP

BLOCK THE STIMULUS, HELP THE GOP…. Former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, now seeking the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee, has a new reason to oppose an economic rescue package: it might help Democrats.

While only a few details are known, one overlooked issue is that it could create a major electoral advantage for Democrats at taxpayer expense. That would be unacceptable….

[M]ost federal employees, that are not political appointees, vote Democrat. Since Washington, DC is the seat of government, whenever new federal bureaucrats are created many live in Maryland and Virginia. In 2008, Virginia went Democrat for the first time since 1964, and Mr. Obama won it by 130,000 votes. Creating 600,000 new jobs might help cement Virginia in the Democrat column, making it harder for Republicans to retake the White House.

Now, from a policy perspective, most of this is incoherent. Most of the jobs created through Democratic plans would be in the private sector; they would not be “federal employees.” For that matter, there’s no reason to believe there’d be a concentration of new jobs specifically in Virginia, and Blackwell’s 600,000 figure isn’t rooted in reality anyway.

But more importantly, Blackwell’s fears are a helpful example of politics at its worst. It’s reminiscent of the memo Bill Kristol wrote for congressional Republicans in 1993, when he insisted that the GOP had to block any efforts to reform healthcare, because if Clinton and Democrats were successful, it would “give the Democrats a lock on the crucial middle-class vote.” What helps Americans is nice, but what helps Republicans is what really matters.

Likewise, Blackwell is looking an economic crisis and thinking, “Rescue, schmescue. If it might undermine Republicans’ electoral strategies, I’m against it.” The goal isn’t to create jobs or to improve the economy; the goal is to look out for the GOP above all.

Remember that Republican slogan from not too long ago? “Country first”?