Friday, January 30, 2009

I’ll Take the Future of the Republican Party on Evens, Red

As you have probably heard, the House version of the stimulus bill, with the infrastructure funding attached, passed Wednesday by a vote of 244-188. The bill included a last-minute amendment by Reps. DeFazio of Oregon and Nadler of New York to add an additional $4.5 billion dollars to the package, including $3 billion for rail and mass transit projects. The Senate takes up its version on Monday.

Thanks to House Minority Leader John Boehner’s continued cries that Republicans should stick to their small-government guns and ignore the will of the VAST MAJORITY OF THE PEOPLE, REPUBLICAN AND DEMOCRAT, no Republicans voted for the bill. By doing this, Boehner is making a fairly substantial gamble…and the fate of the Republican Party likely hangs in the balance.

There are several caveats that will have to be met for Boehner’s gamble to pay dividends for the Republican Party:
  1. A unified alternative will need to be put forth by the GOP. According to an article in today’s LA Times, the Republicans are anti-Obama’s massive spending on infrastructure and related projects, but have yet to come up with a unified front of what to do instead, so that they’ll have actions to point at should the infrastructure plan fail. If you’re a Republican, you have to hope that Boehner, Palin, or new GOP chair Michael Steele (elected earlier today) will be able to rally the GOP behind a single issue.
  2. Bipartisanship will have to fail. Despite the vote in the House, there’s still a pretty good chance that some GOPs will support Barack on the infrastructure package before the bill creeps to its inevitable passage, either from moderate Republican Senators who come from centrist or Democratic states (Olympia Snowe being the most likely culprit), or in either house after the bill has been altered in conference committee. If Obama gets GOP support, he can tout that he has changed the culture in Washington at least somewhat, thereby fulfilling his main campaign promise.
  3. They will have to run a governor on the GOP presidential ticket in 2012. No way will any legislator obstructionist to the infrastructure package have any chance in hell against perhaps the most popular and unifying man in the history of the world, excluding Jesus Christ.
  4. And this is the hard one: HOPE THAT THE INFRASTRUCTURE BILL FAILS. The Republicans are already banking on this, as they are running an ad slamming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, whom they hope to pick off in 2010, for supporting the infrastructure bill. If the bill fails to get us out of the recession, Obama will look like an idiot and the GOP will take back Congress and the White House right? WRONG!!!! As with FDR, if Obama makes by creating SOME jobs and refitting our infrastructure, people will re-elect him even if the recession doesn’t end. Of course, as with the post-New Deal era, Republicans will probably eventually regain control of Congress…it just will take two decades for it to happen, and two generations to stick.

Here’s more coverage on the stimulus issue, for your viewing pleasure

Oh, and one more thing…

Congratulations to the next President of Occidental College, Jonathan Veitch!!!!!!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Infastructure Issue: One Week in

OK, everybody knows about this:

And you probably know that he's proposed a massive stimulus package that is now hovering at the number $900 billion, and will include everything from middle-class tax cuts to millions for the National Endownment for the Arts. My policy blog focuses on the over $350 billion appropriated for "shovel-ready" infrastructure projects, as well as other legislation relating to transit and infrastructure on primarily the national level. According to one op-ed article by center-right pollster Frank Luntz, infrastructure is a unifying issue in America, in such a way as few other issues are. According to Luntz, 94% of Americans, including vast majorities from almost every grouping there is, express concern about the nation's infrastructure. 84% support more funding for it, and 81% of Americans, including 3 out of 4 Republicans, support a 1% tax increase for infrastructure spending (this in a country where substantial majorities support lower taxes). So it is clear that there is a consensus for Obama to do something about our crumbling infrastructure.

The stimulus package, including the billions for infrastructure, is snaking its way through the house and the senate, despite concerns from Senator John McCain and House Minority Leader John Boehner, who criticize Obama's plan for not coalescing to them enough (they forget that two and half months ago, a mandate was handed down AGAINST them and their party). Boehner and McCain's criticism targets the large amounts of spending in the Democrats' bill, but not specifically the infrastructure money. (Their focus is more on fringe issues, like funding for contraceptives and the NEA). Here are a few links to media coverage of the debate in Congress over the stimulus package since the 23rd:
By the way, should you want to fact-check any of my information or browse the web for additional information, my main news source is the Los Angeles Times, but others I read regularly include National Public Radio, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer (which I will almost always watch over the Hannity Show that's scheduled opposite it), The Atlantic and TIME. Occasionally, I might reference the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Politico or Bill Moyers' Journal.