29 January, 2009

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

And the stupid keeps rolling in from every side....

Republicons need to be taken to school and taught what "bipartisan" really means:
Today, Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) offered his understanding of the word.
"[If the Ledbetter and SCHIP bills] are any indication, we'll get votes on amendments, they'll all lose, and the bill will then pass, and we end up with a totally partisan package. I don't think that's what the president had in mind when he talked about putting legislation together in a bipartisan way."

So, the appropriate way to put together legislation is for Democrats to vote for Republican amendments. If GOP measures win, it's bipartisan. If not, it's antithetical to Obama's approach. Got it.

The president and Democratic lawmakers can obviously speak for themselves about how they interpret a "bipartisan" approach to governing, but my sense is, it's built around the notion of an open process. Republicans may have failed spectacularly at governing, and may have been handed devastating electoral defeats that left them as a regional party, but the White House and the Democratic majority are nevertheless willing to hear them out. Their ideas are welcome. Their amendments will be considered. The president is willing to engage them directly, and make some policy concessions to address their concerns. There has been and will be an exchange of ideas, in good faith, and proposals with merit will advance, no matter which party recommended them.

That's what's happened, and that's what Republicans don't believe is good enough. As Kevin Drum noted last night, the GOP apparently "really has decided to blindly stonewall everything Obama wants, no matter what."

They may want to have a bit of a think about their tactics. For one thing, the "center-right nation" myth is going down in flames:

Call it the Obama effect or call it the George Bush effect. Whatever you call it, its name is "bad news" for the Republican Party.


The political landscape of the United States has clearly shifted in the Democratic direction, and in most states, a greater proportion of state residents identified as Democrats or said they leaned to the Democratic Party in 2008 than identified as Republicans or leaned Republican.

As recently as 2002, a majority of states were Republican in orientation. By 2005, movement in the Democratic direction was becoming apparent, and this continued in 2006. That dramatic turnaround is clearly an outgrowth of Americans' dissatisfaction with the way the Republicans (in particular, President George W. Bush) governed the country.

With Democratic support at the national level the highest in more than two decades and growing each of the last five years, Republican prospects for significant gains in power in the near term do not appear great.

Like it or not, the nation's taken a hard swing left. And so antics like banding together to oppose a wildly-popular Democratic president when the Democratic majorities in the House and Senate ensure things get done anyway seem destined to fail.

They are not negotiating from a position of strength. When you demand everything when you offer nothing, you often end up with - wait for it - nothing, which is what the Cons are about to learn:

As far as some House Democrats are concerned, when it came to the economic stimulus package, Republicans wouldn't take "yes" for an answer. The GOP wanted tax cuts, and Democrats offered them tax cuts. The GOP howled at some specific spending measures, and Democrats removed them from the legislation. It didn't affect the outcome.

Amanda Marcotte argued today that House Republicans "can't be dealt with like reasonable people." Not surprisingly, some Democrats who did deal with the GOP as if they were reasonable want to reverse the concessions they gave up.

Rank-and-file Congressional Democrats had been willing to give Republicans the business tax cuts and other provisions they wanted in the stimulus. That is, up until every single one voted against the bill on the House floor Wednesday.

Now, in both the House and the Senate, angry members are lobbying Democratic leaders to yank those tax breaks back.


So, are the business tax breaks going to be yanked from the bill? No, at least not yet. Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said, "We haven't reached that point," he said. "In fact, Republican senators I've spoken to today said, 'Don't give up on us. We still want to work with you.'"

We'll see how that goes.

So far as I can tell, the answer will be: not too good:
The recovery legislation will now be heard by the Senate. Is there hope for bipartisanship there? Unlikely. Today on Fox News, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) excoriated the legislation and said that he “thinks” the bill will receive zero Senate GOP votes:
DEMINT: But I think it is going to help define the Republicans and the Democrats once again. Because every Republican in the House rejected this, and I think every Republican in the Senate might do as well.

And it's worthwhile trying to work with these buffoons how, exactly?

I hope they're prepared for the firestorm headed their way. Nobody's taking this lying down:

The White House has invested quite a bit of time and energy reaching out to congressional Republicans. Late yesterday, the president's efforts were rewarded with exactly zero GOP votes on an economic stimulus plan. As the Politico reported when Republicans announced their opposition, the minority party "slapped" Obama's "outstretched hand," as part of a "coordinated effort to embarrass" the president.

We're starting to get a sense of how the White House plans to respond.

Pushing back against the unanimous House Republican vote against President Obama's stimulus plan, the White House plans to release state-by-state job figures "so we can put a number on what folks voted for and against," an administration aide said.

"It's clear the Republicans who voted against the stimulus represent constituents who will be stunned to learn their member of Congress voted against [saving or] creating 4 million jobs," the aide said.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the lawmakers will have to answer to their constituents. And a Democratic official added: "We will run campaigns in their districts."

What's more, Greg Sargent reports that a coalition of groups and unions, including Americans United for Change, MoveOn.org Political Action, AFSCME, and SEIU, are launching a new television ad "targeting Republican Senators and pressuring them to vote for President Obama's stimulus package."

Try to bluff on an empty hand, leave behind an empty seat. Sounds fair to me.

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