The Republican Dilemma: How to Oppose the Stimulus

By
John Boehner, Republican.
John Boehner, Republican. Photo: Getty Images

It’s D-Day for President Obama’s efforts to win over GOP support for the economic stimulus package, as the bill will be voted on by the House of Representatives later tonight. Republicans emerged from yesterday’s meetings with Obama praising his willingness to listen and cooperate with the opposition — it’s no secret the guy’s a charmer. But they’re still not satisfied with the actual bill, which means that, charmed or not, they’ll likely vote against it, depriving Obama of his hoped-for bipartisan passage. That doesn’t mean, however, that Republicans face an easy decision.

• Chris Cillizza says the Republican “vote is complicated by any number of political concerns.” Most important, “Obama is extremely popular among voters at the moment … and he has made very clear that this legislation is his number one priority and that he badly wants bipartisan support for it.” But at the same time, many Republicans believe their losses the past few years “have been due in large part to an abandonment of the party's core principles — most notably an emphasis on smaller government and limited spending.” [Fix/WP]

• David Corn believes that with Obama’s “stratospheric” approval ratings and the majority of Americans hoping his stimulus succeeds, Republicans have “little choice but to be darn gracious toward Obama.” But since they can’t simply cave, either, “they are endeavoring to discredit the stimulus bill by tying it to those ol' spend-and-spend Democrats.” Unfortunately, “[b]randing the stimulus legislation a House Democratic concoction won't provide them much cover for voting nay.” [Mojo/Mother Jones]

• Marc Ambinder agrees that “one reason why Republicans are so respectful in their words about Obama” is that, “with a large majority of the country open to anything so long as it's called a stimulus, Republicans have to play along to an extent.” Of course, they still believe “that a lot of the spending seems gratuitous.” [Atlantic]

• Craig Crawford thinks voting against the stimulus “would be easier for the GOP if Obama snubbed them. They would have an excuse to oppose him without looking like stubborn partisans.” [Trail Mix/CQ Politics ]

• Chuck Todd and friends claim yesterday’s meetings “were less about gaining support for the stimulus package, and more about garnering good will for future, tougher votes.” [First Read/MSNBC]

• Patrick O’Connor and Jonathan Martin write that “there is little political danger in opposing nearly another trillion dollars in spending at a time when many conservative-leaning voters are weary of government intervention after months of bailouts.” [Politico]

• Dana Milbank expects “no more than 12 Republicans to vote for Obama's stimulus plan today.” [WP]

• Jennifer Rubin says we can predict how the Democrats will spin this: “The GOP is the ‘no’ party, or the Republicans are trying to sink the new President. The Republicans don’t care about the economy.” But “there are good substantive reasons for opposing the bill,” and Republicans won’t vote for it “unless the bill changes to accommodate some of their key concerns.” [Contentions/Commentary]