Now that the House has passed its version of a spending stimulus bill, the next logical question appears to be a simple one: What will the Senate cobble together? After Wednesday’s vote, however, that doesn’t appear to be the right question. With House Republicans standing firm against Ms. Pelosi’s spending avalanche, and with Sen. Jon Kyl predicting the same reaction in the Senate, the question might turn out to be this: Will the Senate’s version be scaled back out of fear of GOP filibuster? Or will it keep growing?

Another question that must be asked involves something more than policies and priorities. It involves dynamics, politics and the midterms. The dynamics involved have changed. The House GOP standing together changes it from a bipartisan bill with political cover for representatives who voted for it to a partisan bill that Nancy Pelosi currently owns.

The politics have changed, too. It isn’t likely that House Republicans stood in unison without getting a hint that the Senate GOP was willing to stand fast, too. That means the so-called stimulus bill will be the Democrats’ property.

Let’s suppose that House and Senate Democrats agree on bills that look pretty much like the bill the House passed Wednesday. Let’s suppose that the conference report reconciling the bills emerges with everything staying largely intact. At that point, wouldn’t that put the Democrats in an at-risk position for the midterms?

The UK Telegraph’s Toby Harnden doesn’t paint that bleak a scenario in this article but he isn’t painting with rose-colored glasses, either:

The Democratic leadership on Capitol Hill badly miscalculated by treating the bill as a victor’s charter. Not that it seemed to bother Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, who grinned from ear to ear as she announced the result of the vote.

Aside from her penchant for pit bull politics, Ms. Pelosi is best known for her overreach capabilities.

Mr. Harnden noted something else from Wednesday’s vote:

Obama vowed to change Washington and usher in a new post-partisan era. The the mood music and optics were pitch perfect as he trekked up to the Hill. Republicans praised his gesture, welcomed his sincere demeanour and appreciated his willingness to listen.

Problem was, he wanted only to listen and did not want to act on what Republicans said. When he was asked if he would re-structure the package to include more tax cuts, he reportedly responded: “Feel free to whack me over the head because I probably will not compromise on that part.”

He apparently added: ” I understand that and I will watch you on Fox News and feel bad about myself.”

When I wrote this post, I detected more than a hint of President Obama’s audacity. In retrospect, his “I won” quote is more damning now than I thought then. And I thought it was damning then.

Mr. Harnden’s statement that President Obama “wanted only to listen and did not want to act on what Republicans said” is emerging as a telltale sign of President Obama’s governing style. During the campaign, I noted that then-Sen. Obama often talked about bringing people together. I also noted that his Senate record on working in a bipartisan manner was almost nonexistent.

In fact, the campaign embarassed itself when they tried characterizing his working with Dick Lugar on locking up the former Soviet Union’s nuclear warchest as an effort in which he defied his party’s elders. It turned out that the Obama-Lugar bill passed on a voice vote in the Senate.

It’s becoming apparent that President Obama is skilled at photo op bipartisanship. Unless something changes dramatically, it’s becoming equally apparent that President Obama isn’t skilled at substantive bipartisanship.

That’s potentially damaging to him if the bill passes, is signed into law, then flops. It’s politically damaging to him if the bill passes but doesn’t lift the economy out of this recession. It’s especially damaging if the bill causes high inflation and unemployment rates.

Finally, if the bill passes and doesn’t lift us out of this recession AND the American people can be convinced that more tax cuts would’ve made a difference, then President Obama can be cast as a smooth-talking partisan failure, not a statesman whose plan succeeded in lifting us out of a recession.

All this is speculation at this point but it’s a plausible scenario now that the House GOP stood its ground.

Technorati: , , , , , , , , ,

Cross-posted at California Conservative

3 Responses to “Spending Bill’s Next Step a Big One”

  • Walter Hanson says:

    You know everyone complains about how President Bush ran up the deficits. In eight years federal spending increased by something like one trillion dollars.

    Now in one day they want to spend the same amount of money that it took eight years to build up.

    That should tell you how bloated this bill is and how it’s not a stimulus package.

    Walter hanson
    Minneapolis, MN

Leave a Reply