Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 14, 2009

NOW THAT IT'S PASSED, REPUBLICANS LIKE THE SPENDING.... As you may have heard, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) rushed back to Capitol Hill last night, giving the economic stimulus bill its 60th vote, and sending the package to the White House. The final vote on the $787 billion measure broke down exactly as expected.

What's more, it was legislation the minority party wanted nothing to do with. Three Senate Republicans broke ranks, while zero House Republicans backed the plan. That, in and of itself, isn't especially surprising -- there were philosophical differences, coupled with strategic considerations, alongside a desire to embarrass the president.

What is at least a little surprising, though, is seeing some of the same Republicans who rejected the package issue press releases touting the spending measures in their districts.

Rep. John Mica was gushing after the House of Representatives voted Friday to pass the big stimulus plan.

"I applaud President Obama's recognition that high-speed rail should be part of America's future," the Florida Republican beamed in a press release.

Yet Mica had just joined every other GOP House member in voting against the $787.2 billion economic recovery plan.... Mica wasn't alone in touting what he saw as the bill's virtues.

To be fair, it's hard to say just how common this was yesterday; the McClatchy article only points to a couple of examples of the GOP hypocrisy.

But it's nevertheless amusing. In Mica's press release about the stimulus package, for example, he not only applauded the spending for his district, he neglected to mention altogether that he opposed the bill. Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), who also issued a press release claiming "victory" for an Alaskan contracting program in the bill, also failed to mention that he voted against the measure that he's so excited about.

If GOP lawmakers want to vote against the package, fine. But bragging about a bill they opposed is just ridiculous.

Steve Benen 7:50 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (38)

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These Republicans are the equivalent of free riders, unless it doesn't work and they can say "I told you so." It's party before country, business as usual.

Posted by: Shag from Brookline on February 14, 2009 at 8:05 AM | PERMALINK

Turn MoveOn.org and other groups loose on these hypocrites.

The Republicans have created the perpetual campaign. Now the administration needs to keep up the pressure 24-7 or they'll lose control of the message again.
http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2009_02/016883.php

Maybe Obama can use the offer of easing pressure on individual Repubs to encourage them to be a little more bipartisan. It's not like these folks care about what's best for the country or anything like that . . . .


Posted by: SteveT on February 14, 2009 at 8:12 AM | PERMALINK

The repubs are trying to be clever and butter both sides of their bread. If the stimulus comes up short, they'll crow about their opposition. If it succedes, they'll hope voters forget their opposition and remember their after the fact cheerleading.

I think they misplayed the issue baddly. To say they refused to bargain in good faith is far too generous. They were more like a screaming 2 year old who refused to eat their peas.

Posted by: JoeW on February 14, 2009 at 8:21 AM | PERMALINK

This is so like the old children's tale about theLittle Red Hen; this rendition, of course, having rotpublicans as the greedy animals who will contribute nothing to the work of making the bread, but are all too willing to help eat it. Fortunately, the old adage, "actions have consequences, will play out at full volume in the Autumn of 2010, as every one of these tail-tucking obstructionists will be presented to their respective constituencies as having sought to make the People suffer---in the name of a failed ideology.

Sure, it's early to play this game, but mightn't we see at least a few pickups in the Senate over McConnell's latest gambit---and maybe another dozen or so in the House?

Posted by: Steve W. on February 14, 2009 at 8:33 AM | PERMALINK

Particularly in those states where a senate seat is in play, I hope the Democratic powers-that-be are recording everything any Republican senator says that is anything other than antipathy for any aspect of this stimulus package for future use. Let us hope for many "Macacaw" moments.

o
o

Posted by: ROF on February 14, 2009 at 8:35 AM | PERMALINK

Who filibustered it? Did anyone?

Because I see all this mention of 60 votes, Sherrod Brown "rushed back" to make 60, but I see no mention of a filibuster or anyone receiving the blame for one? I guess the Constitution was changed while I slept? 60 votes is the normal threshold, not 50, right?

The NYT says, "Under a procedural deal between the parties, the bill needed 60 votes to pass."

So what exactly is a "procedural deal" and who do we have to blame for it?

Posted by: bubba on February 14, 2009 at 8:59 AM | PERMALINK

To be fair, it seems defensible—if not exactly reasonable—for someone to support much that was good in the bill and not like the total expenditure, or the fact that particular portions should have gone through the normal appropriation process.

Posted by: jhm on February 14, 2009 at 9:03 AM | PERMALINK

Bubba, the procedural deal in question is one that goes back to a deficit reduction bill from quite a few years ago that basically says the Senate can't pass any bill that includes deficit spending.

Any Senator can raise a point-of-order objecting to any bill that violates this provision and it takes a 3/5 vote to override a point-of-order.

Posted by: tanstaafl on February 14, 2009 at 9:12 AM | PERMALINK

Idaho's lone "Democrat" in Congress (along with the three Repubs) voted against the stimulus and then had the nerve to demand a "fair share" of the benefits (http://www.idahostatesman.com/newsupdates/story/668043.html).
Zero sounds fair to me.

Posted by: wetherman on February 14, 2009 at 9:31 AM | PERMALINK

Why does Steve think Mica supports high speed Rail in this country? Mica was being sarcastic.

Posted by: HARRY VERBERNE on February 14, 2009 at 9:35 AM | PERMALINK

Voting against a bill and then touting its benefits is called 'Gramm-standing' in honor of that architect of various legislative disasters affecting our financial system, Phil Gramm. It's a Republican tradition.

Posted by: Nat on February 14, 2009 at 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

Turn MoveOn.org and other groups loose on these hypocrites.

I believe that might be happening already. Before the House vote I got a robo-call from a group I'd never heard of asking me to call Don Young and ask why he was planning to vote against jobs for Alaskans, etc. The odds of changing Youngs vote? Nil. Laying the ground work for 2010? Pretty high.

Posted by: AK Liberal on February 14, 2009 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

When appropriating the funds from the stimulus, Obama and company should go over it bit by bit and, wherever possible, minimize spending to congressional districts whose representatives voted against the bill. (It's too bad you can't do that with high-speed rail.) Teach those backward southerners a lesson!

Posted by: Vincent on February 14, 2009 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

If GOP lawmakers want to vote against the package, fine. But bragging about a bill they opposed is just ridiculous.

Puleez! This was the end game for the GOP. They crowed about their "fiscal responsibility" in opposing the bill, yet knew it would pass and their districts/states would get a fair share of the funds. Do you think any governor or elected official is going to turn down the funds?
See ya, suckas!

Posted by: CParis on February 14, 2009 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

Now watch Republicns claim they invented it.

Posted by: alan on February 14, 2009 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

'Gramm-standing'

Did you make that up? That is going to be my neo-logism of the day and I want to give proper credit.

Posted by: Blue Girl on February 14, 2009 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

I second Vincent's opinion. Republicans who voted against the stimulus should be punished. Their districts should be cut out of as much funding as possible. This will demonstrate that the bill was not for the purpose of stimulating the economy, but for political aggrandizement. We already knew that, but it's extra nice when we have constant, visible reminders long after the bill is passed.

Posted by: The Reticulator on February 14, 2009 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

A good idea would be to advertise in the districts of these hypocrites and point out that they voted against the stimulus that is now helping their constituents - that if they had been successful there would be no help.

At least in Texas, the morons are stupid enough to publicly say they don't want any of the stimulus, that they don't need the 269,000 jobs it would bring. That's about the number of pissed-off voters needed next year to turn them all out of office.

Posted by: TCinLA on February 14, 2009 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

My favorite (or least favorite I guess) example of this type of behavior was McCain's bragging during his presidential campaign about how much Jim Webb's VA education bill was going to help military veterans -- after he not only voted against it but campaigned against it. Impressive hypocrisy.

Posted by: patrick on February 14, 2009 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

The last speech given by the Senate Minority Leader was revealing as well. Earmarks will be replaced with "phone-marks". What is a phone-mark? It is when a congressman calls the administration to lobby for a particular project.

I think that is also called begging.

But this was actually the main point of the legislation, to cause republicans to go to bat for stimulus projects, therefore admitting the projects create jobs and are worthwhile.

This is going to lead to two years of potential press stories where republicans embrace Obama's plans in their home districts, in order to create jobs.

It will also set the groundwork for STIM-II and for republican support of future legislation.

Ever think about who lives between the cities served by high-speed-rail? High-speed-rail should be something loved by rural republicans, most of the construction will be in their districts.

Posted by: tomj on February 14, 2009 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

"But this was actually the main point of the legislation, to cause republicans to go to bat for stimulus projects, therefore admitting the projects create jobs and are worthwhile....It will also set the groundwork for STIM-II and for republican support of future legislation."

This is serious. Usually Democrats go through a long period of public denial before they start bragging about their agenda. Now we're already past the "First they deny it" phase. We're already in "Now they brag about it."

Posted by: The Reticulator on February 14, 2009 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

You are missing the point entirely. If this was a high speed rail bill that he voted against, then you could call it hypocrisy. But this was a high speed spending bill, and THAT is what he voted against. If this purely a jobs & stimulus bill, it could have been 200 pages (not 1200) and would not have needed to include these ridiculous provisions that 80% of the Reps and Senators don't even understand yet. Their quick-turnaround vote makes a mockery of our political process and Obama's stated desire for bi-partisanship. Remove all that junk from the bill and really focus the legislation on 1 or 2 key issues and it would have garnered more support.

Posted by: Jeff on February 14, 2009 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

I want to give proper credit

That would be new! But a commendable policy shift!

A good idea would be to advertise in the districts of these hypocrites and point out that they voted against the stimulus that is now helping their constituents - that if they had been successful there would be no help.

It will be interesting to see how these bozos play this. No doubt they'll keep playing the "freebies for shiftless black--I mean, poor--people, freebies that you're paying for" card in their districts. That card does work. But will it keep working when so many people are suffering?

My favorite (or least favorite I guess) example of this type of behavior was McCain's bragging during his presidential campaign about how much Jim Webb's VA education bill was going to help military veterans -- after he not only voted against it but campaigned against it. Impressive hypocrisy.

Wasn't that something? He counted on no one in the MSM picking up on it. He was pretty much right.

Posted by: shortstop on February 14, 2009 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

Yep, my Repub Congress-critter (Greg Walden, OR) of course voted against the bill but is now planning on how to get some badly-needed money for our district.

One of the Dem no votes came from Peter DeFazio (also OR) who disagreed with cuts for infrastructure in favor of tax cuts. He could afford to vote no on principle.

BTW, today is the State of Oregon's 150th birthday. Happy Birthday!!!

Posted by: Hannah on February 14, 2009 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

Takes me back to the first Bush-Gore debate, where the one time that Bush actually flummoxed Gore was when he took credit for the Texas Patients' Bill of Rights that had passed over his veto.

Posted by: Redshift on February 14, 2009 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

OK I get why the cloture vote to end debate is 60 votes, but I don't understand why the final passage of the bill should also be 60.

If Republicans truly want to be the party of "I told you so," they should take a lesson from Bob Dole. Clinton's 1993 tax reform passed without a single Republican vote. They told us so for a week, but then had the decency to STFU and ultimately, let the majority govern without their support.

But instead, by abusing the shadowy, virtual filibuster to extract concessions, Republicans own the bill too. Their legislative strategy is not told you so, but active sabotage.

Posted by: Aatos on February 14, 2009 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

What is at least a little surprising, though, is seeing some of the same Republicans who rejected the package issue press releases touting the spending measures in their districts. -- Steve Benen

It's not surprising at all; as others have illustrated, it's SOP. Several Republicans of my acquaintance said, after Nov 4th: "I didn't vote for him but I'm glad he won." It's the same principle: if he fails, they had nothing to do with it; if he succeeds, they said they were happy, didn't they?

What's the saying? "Success has many fathers, failure is an orphan"? Something like that and that's the position they're now assuming.

BTW. MoveOn *is* collecting money for ads which will show the public how different congresscritters voted on the stimulus. I think it's, mostly, so that they don't pull the same obstructionist tricks when other bills come up.

Posted by: exlibra on February 14, 2009 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

"But bragging about a bill they opposed is just ridiculous."

Exactly. That's EXACTLY the right word for Republics. Ridiculous.

Posted by: Sarah Barracuda on February 14, 2009 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

"But bragging about a bill they opposed is just ridiculous"

Uh, huh. And what would be ridiculous about it? Or let's put it this way: What would be more ridiculous about it than anything else than happens in Congress?

Posted by: The Reticulator on February 14, 2009 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

Wow you guys must be so proud of your Presidents transparency that you just cant stop celebrating. Well, in about 6 months I would like to remeind you who passed this bill. You know what libs, it is all yours.
Any one ready to start impeachment hearing on the liars and cheaters and tax cheats in Washington. ?? Especially Dodd and Franks.

Posted by: jean on February 14, 2009 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

Uh Uh ?? is that English?

Posted by: jdeldin on February 14, 2009 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

You know what jean, I hope you lose your job and your savings since you obviously don't want either one.

Oh, and use your tax refund to buy an apostrophe.

Posted by: Sarah Barracuda on February 14, 2009 at 6:28 PM | PERMALINK

The Republicans are always running out in front of parades. It's like a dog chasing a car.

Posted by: Joe Friday on February 14, 2009 at 6:56 PM | PERMALINK

Sarah Barracuda,
that is all you have to say about the transparency, is buy an apostroph? That's the best you got.
Dont you really care what is in this bill?
Do you know what they voted on?
Was it the word of the President that you think maybe it is a good bill. My God get a thought of your own.

Posted by: jdeldin on February 14, 2009 at 8:29 PM | PERMALINK

Don't bother blogging me back as I am sick of this give me, give me attitudes. I happen to have a great job and I donate enough of money to poor people. And that is because it is my choice, I do not want to work and be forced to give it to anyone.

Posted by: Jdeldin on February 14, 2009 at 8:33 PM | PERMALINK

Jdeldin,

"I happen to have a great job and I donate enough of money to poor people."

I'm afraid your ire is misdirected.

"Poor people" are not your problem, as almost two-thirds of every federal income tax dollar you've been paying only covers the Military Industrial Complex and the interest on the Reagan/Poppy Bush/Chimpy Bush federal debt.

Posted by: Joe Friday on February 15, 2009 at 12:24 AM | PERMALINK

This artical is the same old one sided story that the Democratic run press has always spewed and will never change. I hope it is still in business after the effects of this huge snowball is finished rolling down the hill of distruction. I wonder who you will be pointing your fingers at to try to place the blame for this choaking pill we will all have to swallow.

Posted by: Ray on February 15, 2009 at 10:28 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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