President Obama went out of his way to court the Congressional GOP, even going to meet with them rather than making them come to him, to negotiate a compromise to get Republican votes for his stimulus package. Here's what they were concerned about:
Republicans interviewed after the meeting said, Mr. Obama told them he would listen to proposals to expand on provisions cutting taxes for small businesses and would be open to corporate tax cuts as well if Republicans cooperated to close tax loopholes for big business.
They offered, as usual, nothing in return. All they wanted to know was how much Obama would give. He offered to trade the family planning money that Dingbat John Boehner found so excessive for some minor tax breaks for small businesses. Boehner wasn't interested and offered nothing except the threat that House Pubs wouldn't vote for the bill unless $300B in state aid was cut, of all things. (Are they trying to make enemies out of everybody, even their own state GOP officials?)
In the end, the stimulus bill passed the House without them now that filibuster threats are no good, and the staunch, uncompromising Pubs got nothing they wanted. Imagine that.
Included is money for traditional job-creating programs such as highway construction and mass transit projects. But the measure tickets far more for unemployment benefits, health care and food stamp increases designed to aid victims of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Tens of billions of additional dollars would go to the states, which confront the prospect of deep budget cuts of their own. That money marks an attempt to ease the recession's impact on schools and law enforcement. With funding for housing weatherization and other provisions, the bill also makes a down payment on Obama's campaign promise of creating jobs that can reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil.
Meanwhile the Republicans, pretending that the last 8 years never existed, pushed a bill of their own consisting almost entirely of...you guessed it: tax cuts. It was defeated. Since President Junior is no longer around to promise to veto everything the Democrats do, is it possible that the Democratic leadership is actually prepared to act like a majority party and stop pretending it takes 60 votes to pass legislation? That would be nice.
It was a bad day for Pubs in the Senate as well, where they made yet another attempt to kill SCHIP and cut health care for poor children (their most especial favorite group to "balance the budget" on the backs of) and...failed. Spectacularly.
Senate Republicans fell short Wednesday in their effort to limit the expansion of a government health insurance program for lower-income children.
Republicans tried several times to amend a Democratic-led bill that would renew the State Children's Health Insurance Program. They were soundly defeated each time, including when they offered a substitute proposal to extend health coverage to about 2 million uninsured children, or roughly half the number that Democrats seek to cover.
The Senate rejected that amendment, 65-32.
In both cases, the GOP minority simply refused to deal with the Dem majority, refused to compromise, refused give one inch even when the President broke precedent to try to talk with them. As predicted, nothing has changed except the numbers.
So we've had our first lesson for both sides:
Dem: Post-partisanship is an illusion
Pub: Without post-partisan behaviour, the GOP may become irrelevant
Actually, I'm lovin' this. If the Republican extremists continue to push dead solutions like "tax cuts tax cuts tax cuts" and fight giving money to states and back-to-work programs, they could become so irrelevant that they'll fade off the electoral map entirely.
A consummation devoutly to be wished.