Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

August 11, 2010

THE KIND OF VOTE TO BUILD AN ELECTION AROUND.... Yesterday, a week after the Senate acted, the House approved a state-aid jobs bill, which President Obama signed into law last night. This is generating a fair amount of attention -- the prospect of hundreds of thousands of job losses right now, including as many as 160,000 school teachers, is bound to raise eyebrows -- but the scope of this single bill may not be fully appreciated just yet.

The public is probably pretty accustomed to Republican lawmakers balking at every piece of legislation, and this jobs bill fit into the larger pattern -- 98.8% of House Republicans opposed the measure, as did 95% of Senate Republicans.

And while it's relatively easy for the GOP to spin near-unanimous opposition to contentious measures like health care reform and fixing a broken student loan system, the votes on the state-aid package are far harder for the public to stomach. We're talking about a common-sense package -- which lowered, not raised, the deficit -- to save middle-class jobs. Voters can be fickle and unpredictable at times, but most folks tend to like school teachers, firefighters, and police officers.

For reasons that are hard to explain, congressional Republicans labeled them "special interests," unworthy of rescue. The same GOP leaders who concluded that Wall Street deserved a bailout at a time of crisis, decided teachers and cops didn't.

Digby noted yesterday, "I do hope the Democrats are paying close attention to this because it might just save their bacon if they play their cards right."

I'm telling you, this is where the vulnerable underbelly of their "just say no" campaign. They are voting against nice, white, suburban middle class Americans this time (along with nice brown and black suburban middle class Americans) with this crusade. And going after teachers, cops and firefighters is a very, very dangerous thing to do. And as I wrote before, the Democrats should throw it right in their face.

If they don't, they're missing an opportunity.

Note that House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-Ind.) was asked on ABC yesterday how his party would have saved these thousands of jobs, including 3,600 in his home state of Indiana. Pence didn't answer, because he couldn't -- the Republican plan was to let those jobs disappear, and then blame President Obama when the economy got worse. (It's the same with the rescue of the American auto industry -- the GOP plan wasn't to save it in some other way; the GOP plan was to let it die.)

The campaign ads seem to write themselves in a situation like this. Indeed, this is a debate to build an election around -- with a struggling economy, Democrats proposed a fiscally-responsible plan to save hundreds of thousands of jobs, specifically helping our local schools. Republicans said we can afford tax cuts for billionaires, but not teachers' jobs.

It's not every day the two parties' approaches to government get spelled out so clearly, giving the public a stark choice between two very different ideologies.

Steve Benen 9:20 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (30)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

Oh, was there a vote in the House yesterday? I must have missed it- all I saw a half hour of Charlie Rangel, rambling on and on. . .

Posted by: DAY on August 11, 2010 at 9:27 AM | PERMALINK

Except that the GOP didn't vote against teachers, firefighters, and police. They voted against teacher, firefighter, and police UNIONS. And you well know that after 35-odd years of corporate media ownership, when people "look for the union label" these days, it's to see who to hang.

Posted by: Perspecticus on August 11, 2010 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

Moreover the net effect, as scored by CBO, was to reduce deficit. So Republicans voted against reducing the deficit; against middle class jobs; against closing loophole for corporations that export jobs.

Please explain why anyone earning less than 200K votes Republican?

Posted by: Johnny Canuck on August 11, 2010 at 9:34 AM | PERMALINK

Except that the GOP didn't vote against teachers, firefighters, and police. They voted against teacher, firefighter, and police UNIONS.

And who belongs to those, guppies?

Posted by: Gregory on August 11, 2010 at 9:39 AM | PERMALINK

Why don't I have the same optimism in my own party ?

I know, because if there is one thing we cannot accomplish, it's message casting. If we did, the republican party would be nearly non-existent.

Posted by: ScottW714 on August 11, 2010 at 9:42 AM | PERMALINK

Here's the ad:

A disgruntled person says, "Why should I vote for the Democrats? Aren't they in charge? Things aren't exactly great..."

"Wait," says the Character of Reason. "Don't you know that the Democrats are the reason your brother still has unemployment benefits [show floor vote total for extending unemployment] while Republicans voted overwhelmingly against that? Don't you know that it's Democrats who voted to save teaching jobs nationwide while Republicans roll their eyes at teachers [show Sarah's "eyebrow movement"]? And don't you know that even the police and fire workers who got injured on 9/11 don't have the support of Republicans? [show floor vote from Weinergeddon]"

It could end with the fact that Republicans do want to raise middle class taxes by returning to the Bush tax days, but that might be too much by then. Though it would be good to add something about how much importance the GOP puts toward tax cuts for millionaires.

Posted by: jon on August 11, 2010 at 9:43 AM | PERMALINK

Decent point, Steve. So I assume that means the Administration and Senate Dems are going to cave in 5....4....3.....

Posted by: Tom Allen on August 11, 2010 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

There is so much for the Democrats to exploit. Remind the voters with party cares about the rich and powerful, and which party cares about them.

Tax cuts for the rich vs. tax cuts for the middle class.
BP and other corporations vs. environment
Don Blankenship vs. coal miners
Wall Street and large corporations vs. consumers
Wealthy vs. unemployed
Health insurance companies vs. people who are sick
Destroying Social Security vs. preserving it

The Republicans don't even deny which side they are on.

Posted by: david1234 on August 11, 2010 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

I just want to offer the caveat that in New Jersey, where blowhard GOP governor Chris Christie is battling the unions representing teachers and other government workers, many voters dislike Christie but even larger percentages disapprove of the teachers' unions. They support teachers; they don't support their unions. So it's a fine line for Democrats to walk (and, as usual, an issue on which Republicans can find a hot button).

Posted by: Steve M. on August 11, 2010 at 10:03 AM | PERMALINK

This is also a good place to drive a wedge between the congressional Republicans and the Republican governors, many of whom are forced to behave like grownups and face the real world, and who, therefore, supported the legislation.

Posted by: john sherman on August 11, 2010 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

Well, Steve, perhaps if the Administration would stop punching the hippies, and realize who their real adversaries are, it could put together a coherent electoral strategy.

Maybe it's just easier to attack the "retarded" professional left.

Am I bitter? Yeah, maybe a little.

Posted by: puravida on August 11, 2010 at 10:07 AM | PERMALINK

'Perspecticus' beat me to the comment I wanted to make. And just to add evidence to his/her claim, please note the most vilified of all the President's bailouts - the auto industry. And why? Just like the teachers, policemen, and firefighters - and even more so - it is that they are Union workers and that stick in the craw of conservatives. How dare any group band together for the betterment of the group. When will all the union bashers admit that every day of vacation and sick pay we receive is because there was a union?

Posted by: Vandal on August 11, 2010 at 10:14 AM | PERMALINK

ScottW714 said:
. . . if there is one thing we cannot accomplish, it's message casting. If we did, the republican party would be nearly non-existent.

Yes, but it really helps the message is members of the party actually believe in the message.

It's not just Obama. The Democratic Party has been willing, even eager, to trade their supposed principles for political advantage for decades.

- Democrats voting to give Telecomms immunity for warrantless wiretapping and supporting the Iraq war.
- Democrats joining the "Gang of 14" and agreeing to support any Bush judicial nominee who didn't wear a Klan hood to their confirmation hearing
- Democrats embracing the Defense of Bigotry Act and Greenspan-onomics.
- Clinton proudly declaring that the "era of big government is over" and embracing wellfare "reform".

In the exit polls for the 2004 elections, people said they voted for candidates with values. Not Republican values, but any values. Maybe someday the party that passed the Civil Rights act in 1964 will have some again.


Posted by: SteveT on August 11, 2010 at 10:14 AM | PERMALINK

Yet another silver platter item with which to spotlight Republicans' true aims. As posted by others above, I am not optimistic that this and the copious other items will be used, or if used, used effectively.

All I ask is for some fight. Fight and lose. Some may say that losing leads to more losing - and they may be right. But I'd wager that there are still a lot of smart people in this country who would step up to support a movement that loudly and confidently fights for liberal values, instead of hiding from them and buying into the Village mentality that liberal is a bad word.

Posted by: terraformer on August 11, 2010 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

Steve,

Pretty much the narrative is that the DEMOCRATS FIGHT FOR THE MIDDLE CLASS whether it is keeping teachers/firefighters/cops jobs, provide tax cuts for small businesses to create jobs at hope, tax corporations that ship jobs overseas, consumer protections for the middle class (very important that Obama appoints Elizabeth Warren for she symbolizes this and she excites the liberal base), etc.

On the other hand, Republicans are about Wall Street and Big Businesses that try to buy elections.

Posted by: Michelle on August 11, 2010 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, and by whittling the bill down as far as it did, PREVIOUS job losses probably will not be reversed. Teachers like my mom, who were laid off *more than a year ago* didn't get their jobs back when stimulus money was disbursed, and still won't this time.

Argh. Welcome to the 99ers, mom! Wish I made enough to help you...but I don't. Because I graduated from college during the early 90s recession and my paycheck still shows the dent.

Did I mention, Argh?

"What if you called 911, and no one was there to answer? God forbid you should pay taxes."

Posted by: ajw93 on August 11, 2010 at 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

For reasons that are hard to explain, congressional Republicans labeled them "special interests," unworthy of rescue.

Duh. That's because government can never create jobs, even when it hires people directly. *Especially* when it hires people directly.

The same GOP leaders who concluded that Wall Street deserved a bailout at a time of crisis, decided teachers and cops didn't.

Yeah, but now they're against the Wall Street bailout that they voted for, so they're entirely consistent. To wit: government can never help the economy, and even if it could, a bad economy is good for Republicans. Consistent.

Posted by: Grumpy on August 11, 2010 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

That the Democrats will take advantage of Republicans' foibles is far less likely than Newt Gingrich's and Rush Limbaugh's support of a constitutional amendment to disqualify from public office anyone who has had more than two divorces.

Posted by: gregor on August 11, 2010 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

"On the other hand, Republicans are about Wall Street...

You mean, if you put the brakes on teacher pay, that's okay but if you try to put an end to the tax-breaks on someone earning >250k, you're tanking the economy?

It's a question of values.

Posted by: leo on August 11, 2010 at 10:34 AM | PERMALINK

Referring to the Democrats, Steve Benen comments:
"If they don't, they're missing an opportunity."

He could have added "again". And then added "again and again." And again some more.

GOP has gone lunatic over the past twenty years, and the Dems still can't make a case.


Posted by: mad_nVT on August 11, 2010 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

I assume that means the Administration and Senate Dems are going to cave in 5....4....3.....
Posted by: Tom Allen on August 11, 2010 at 9:49 AM

"Cave in" how? In your eagerness to continue bashing Obama, you missed two wee points: 1) the Senate has passed the bill *before* it went on recess and 2) Obama had signed it into law *last night*. They couldn't "cave in" even if they wanted to, which, obviously, they didn't.

I noticed that, yesterday, "bash Obama" thread (the one on Gibbs) garnered 132 comments while "thank you Nancy" (the one on the House passing the bill) got only 6. But, of course, it's ever so much easier to spit than it is to praise.

Posted by: exlibra on August 11, 2010 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

It's kind of adorable, in an irrepressible Beaver Cleaver kind of way, that Steve can believe in the possibility of Democrats actually taking advantage of these opportunities and produce good messaging.

It's August 11th. Are those ads in the can yet? Are they ready to hit the air after Labor Day? Has the White House been reaching out to its friends on the left to contribute to fund the air time? Have people been working all summer to ensure that, come the fall, there will be people who want to volunteer to help carry the message and work the phones and go to the doors?

Sadly, I'm convinced that the GOP felt completely safe in handing the Democrats gold-plated campaign themes on a silver platter, because the Democrats can't message their way out of a paper bag, and have spent the last year kicking their base in the teeth. The GOP doesn't need to do anything to win, because the Democrats are making sure they lose.

Posted by: biggerbox on August 11, 2010 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

The Democratic Party stands with teachers, cops, firefighters and the middle class.

The Republican Party stands with CEOs, investment bankers and wealthy heirs.

That's the kind of class war we need.

Posted by: Rasputin22 on August 11, 2010 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

The R's opposition was due to the way the bill was paid for; from the Dems, they said they were closing tax loopholes; Th Reps., Cham. of Comm., etc. were saying it would cost thousands of manufacturing jobs - something about taking advantage of foriegn tax credits ??

Anyway - anyone have a decent CLEAR explanation as to what the real arguments here are - ie, REps vs Dem view of how to pay for it ? My congressman whined about having to miss a town meeting because of that meany head Pelosi calling them to session; avoiding of course the fact that senate repubs. were the root cause ...

Posted by: bigtuna on August 11, 2010 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

john sherman beat me to it, but christie notwithstanding, there was bi-partisan agreement among governors that this was a good bill...

repeating myself from yesterday, unlike republican congresscritters, republican governors actally have to govern...

Posted by: dj spellchecka on August 11, 2010 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

If they don't, they're missing an opportunity.

I've lost count. Would this make 99 or 100 missed opportunities to stick it to Republicans since January?

Posted by: thorin-1 on August 11, 2010 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

THe "we like teachers, but don't like their unions" is a common theme. However, if, like on a lot of issues, one were to actually look at the facts, we might find that folks in O-world have done a hell of a lot to make unions more accountable, and are trying to get real reform - ie, better results for kids. IF repubicans were interested in real work, things might turn out even better. It is very hard to measure as of yet, since the payoff is years away, but is it better to have all this union bashing, special interest name calling, or have some democrats willing to go to unions, and say," ok, pay raises - fine; but - how about some performance standards?" ie., you know, govern.

Posted by: bigtuna on August 11, 2010 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

I heard a local wingnut pundit describe the bill as a "bailout for government employees."

Posted by: Daryl P Cobranchi on August 11, 2010 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

I heard a local wingnut pundit describe the bill as a "bailout for government employees."
Posted by: Daryl P Cobranchi on August 11, 2010 at 2:14 PM

Naturally. Because, when you say "government employee", the image that term evokes is of a useless bureaucrat, a paper pusher who spends more time surfing the net for porn than doing anything worthwhile. If you live "where the devil says goodnight" (like in my area of mostly rural south-west Virginia), you have no sympathy for those, because you have never met any of them. If, OTOH, you start talking about firefighters and police and teachers... Why, it's my aunt and my cousin that you're talking about.

Posted by: exlibra on August 11, 2010 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

"Anyway - anyone have a decent CLEAR explanation as to what the real arguments here are..."

It's pretty simple.....If a Republican says it....IT'S NOT TRUE.

Just remember the last....ohh, about 40 years or so, but especially the last 10...

Posted by: marty on August 11, 2010 at 7:17 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly