STIMULUS PASSES HOUSE WITH ZERO GOP VOTES…. After all the outreach to House Republicans, all the concessions, all of the reports about the economic crisis, all of the evidence showing the stimulative effects of the plan, not a single GOP lawmaker in the chamber voted for the economic rescue package.
The House voted, 244-188, on Wednesday evening for President Obama’s package of federal tax cuts and spending worth $819 billion and meant to jump-start the economy out of its worst crisis in decades.
Although the president’s legislative victory was no surprise, given the Democrats’ 255-to-178 advantage in the House, the lack of any Republican support was a disappointment for Mr. Obama. The vote came hours after Mr. Obama declared that “we don’t have a moment to spare” just after conferring with business leaders at the White House.
If the House Republican caucus, en masse, isn’t willing to support a stimulus package in the midst of a global economic crisis, it’s hard to imagine when, exactly, GOP lawmakers are going to work with the majority party in a constructive way.
After lengthy debate, Republicans weren’t swayed by the evidence, or the polls, or the president. They came into this in united opposition, and with Democrats unwilling to give them more of Bush economic policies, that’s the way they stayed.
This isn’t exactly a surprise. I suspect the Republican Party looked at this as a pragmatic political test — if the stimulus plan works, and the economy improves, Obama and Democrats will claim credit and reap the political rewards, whether the GOP supported the proposal or not. If the stimulus plan falls short, and the economic effects are limited, Republicans want to be able to say, “We told you so.” Given this dynamic, there really wasn’t much of an incentive for the GOP to do the right thing.
Of course, the last time we saw a vote like this one was probably the 1993 vote on Clinton’s first budget — every single Republican in the chamber voted against it, hoping to prove, once and for all, that they were right about economics and Democrats were wrong. If memory serves, that budget was the first step towards the longest economic expansion on record, the creation of 22 million jobs, and the total elimination of the federal budget deficit.
In any case, the stimulus package now goes to the Senate, where passage is likely to overcome Republican obstructionism, and then to House-Senate negotiations, which are likely to be more than a little awkward.