Makes sense for a politician

From this morning's Times:

Without a single Republican vote, President Obama won House approval on Wednesday for an $819 billion economic recovery plan as Congressional Democrats sought to temper their own differences over the enormous package of tax cuts and spending. [emphasis mine]
Not one, ladies and gentlemen. Not one single Republican was willing to vote for the stimulus package.

This was not for lack of trying on the President's part, mind you. He was willing to drop provisions that the Republicans didn't like. (The family planning funds in question were apparently what John Boehner was referring to here.) He went to the Capitol to personally lobby the GOP on behalf of the bill, where he reiterated a willingness to compromise on parts of it. Reading the article I just linked to, something jumped out at me:

In a session with House Republicans, Mr. Obama said he would not compromise on a central element of his plan that has drawn particular Republican opposition: his campaign promise for a middle-class tax credit that would also go to low-wage workers who earn too little to pay income taxes but are subject to payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare. Most Republicans oppose granting such credits to people who do not pay federal income taxes, saying they then amount to a welfare payment.
Is it just me, or is that last statement 100% ideological? Welfare (and anything that we can plausibly describe that way) = bad, and thus we must oppose the stimulus package. Never mind that it might actually work to stimulate the economy, since the people who would receive the tax credit are the most likely to spend it, rather than saving it.

Now, if I were a Republican member of Congress, I would probably be disinclined to vote for the stimulus package, too. This has nothing to do with whether it would be effective. Heavens, no! It has everything to do with the fact that our bleak economy (see what I did there?) is the gravest crisis facing our nation right now, and there is a lot of pressure to get it right. By opposing the stimulus on some ideological ground or another, it allows the GOP Congressmen to distance themselves from it should it fail, pinning it entirely on the Democrats. Is this grossly craven and rankly partisan? Of course it is. Why, did you think things would be otherwise?

Obviously, I hope the stimulus package works for the simple reason that I'd like the economy to recover. But it would also be nice to see the Republican members of the House unable to claim any credit for it. Not that I think they won't try.

Update: Megan, who knows a lot more about economics than I do and is (unlike me) paid by the Atlantic to blog about it, dissents.


  1. Who are you trying to kid Dan? You obviously would have voted against the stimulus package. Any upturn in the economy would negate the apropos nature of your blog name. Some how I don't think,"auspiciousecononomy" would have the same pull for readers.

  2. Hmmmmm... You raise a good point, though your argument is premised on the shaky assumption that the current blog has any pull for readers.

  3. Hey! I'm reading it as a means to try and understand your exotic and charming Maine customs and politics.

    BTW, while I share your view that the Republican vote was cravenly and rankly political (because I'm cynical about politicians) it could be argued that Mr. Obama's appeal to bipartisanship was motivated by crass political calculation as well (because I'm cynical about politicians). He will own this Bill, and if it is unsuccessful, he needs Republican cover. Mr. Obama doesn't need Republicans on board, and while it is nice that he asked, I would expect more than a few planted giveaways in return for believing this porker of a bill will be benign, let alone helpful.