Maybe we can make an even better bill now

MAYBE WE CAN MAKE AN EVEN BETTER BILL NOW…. I suppose President Obama deserves credit for trying. He made a good faith effort to earn support from conservative Republican House members for an economic stimulus package. Obama negotiated with them, compromised with them, and even included a whole lot of tax cuts to win them over.

But just as the president was poised to work with the House GOP even further, the caucus leader announces it’s too late.

President Barack Obama is coming to the Capitol later today in a bid to curry favor with congressional Republicans. But it appears GOP leaders have already made up their minds to oppose his $825 billion stimulus plan.

House Republican Leader John A. Boehner and his No. 2, Whip Eric Cantor, told their rank-and-file members Tuesday morning during a closed-door meeting to oppose the bill when it comes to the floor Wednesday, according to an aide familiar with the discussion.

This should dampen the mood for an early afternoon meeting with the president, who is making the trek to hear Republicans’ input on the legislation before Wednesday’s vote.

This isn’t a surprise. As discussions progressed, Boehner had a habit of “zeroing in like a laser on the least-defensible possible position,” including opposition to state aid and Medicaid expansion. For that matter, Boehner apparently rejects the very idea of an economic stimulus, hoping a combination of tax cuts and time will get the economy moving again.

Given this, of course he opposes the proposed rescue package. It’s antithetical to all of his beliefs about government and the economy — beliefs that, incidentally, helped create the crisis in the first place. That Obama was willing to engage them directly and honestly was gracious, and evidence of a leader sincere about changing the way business is done, but his efforts were bound to be in vain.

Once again, the relationship between Lucy and Charlie Brown keeps coming to mind.

Nevertheless, I have one relevant question: since the House GOP isn’t interested in passing the bill any more, can Democrats make it even better now? The White House has been willing to make all kinds of concessions to win over Republican support, but it’s not enough. Since the GOP is going to vote “no” anyway, why not make the bill as effective and progressive as possible? If there’s no point in the majority party offering unwelcome enticements to those who’ll remain obstinate anyway, then pull the enticements and let the majority party do the right thing.