Open to reason

OPEN TO REASON…. There’s been a fair amount of talk in recent days about the Senate vote on a Republican all-tax-cut stimulus plan. The proposal, pushed by Sen. Jim DeMint (R) of South Carolina, would address a crisis spurred by a lack of spending with a plan that included no spending whatsoever. It was, by most measures, an example of Republican economic policy gone completely mad, but it nevertheless drew the support of 90% — 36 out of 40 — of the Senate Republican caucus.

It offered a clear roadmap for the future: if sensible policymakers hoped to work with any Senate Republicans on economic policy, they’d have to look at those four — Susan Collins (Maine), George Voinovich (Ohio), Arlen Specter (Pa.), and Olympia Snowe (Maine) — who are at least open to the possibility of a stimulus.

But what about the House? An alert reader reminded me last night that during the House debate on the package, the Republican caucus offered an alternative recovery package of its own, “made up entirely of tax cuts.” It didn’t get much attention, and it was easily defeated, 266 to 170.

And while the entire caucus rejected an actual stimulus plan in unison, let’s not forget that nine House Republicans voted against the all-tax cut proposal: Reps. Cao (La.), Castle (Del.), King (N.Y.), LoBiondo (N.J.), McHugh (N.Y.), Murphy (Pa.), Smith (N.J.), Upton (Mich.), and Wolf (Va.). So, the House Republican caucus has 178 members, and only nine were willing to reject a proposal that didn’t make any sense at all. That’s just 5% of the Republicans in the chamber.

Paul Krugman noted the other day that there “isn’t much room for bipartisanship” when 36 out of 40 Senate Republicans are “totally irresponsible.” That’s true. But by comparison, House Republicans as a caucus are far worse. A total of 10% rejected obvious nonsense in the Senate, but only half that did the same in the House.

Post Script: I should also note that two House Democrats — Reps. Childers (Miss.) and Minnick (Idaho) — also voted for the GOP’s all-tax-cut plan. They’re not to be taken seriously on economics, either.

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation