Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Marginalization of the Republican Party

The house passed its version of President Obama's stimulus bill this week. Without a single Republican vote.

Republicans complained that it was too much spending and not enough tax cuts.

They even proposed an alternative program. It was composed completely of tax cuts.

There are a number of studies out there that show that direct spending on things like unemployment insurance extensions and infrastructure projects are far more effective at spurring economic growth and creating jobs than tax cuts.

There are also studies that show that tax cuts not accompanied by spending cuts do little to spur short term economic growth, never pay for themselves, and because of the impact of the long term debt they create, do not spur long term economic growth.

Yet the Republican Caucus, despite its constant complaints about Bi-Partisanship, proposed a bill composed entirely of tax cuts.

They have no ideas and little influence. All they have left is to be obstructionist, to try and get in the way of progress.

It is gratifying to me to see them implode like this. They are rapidly becoming a small regional party. Their famous Southern Strategy has come full circle.


Matty said...

I think the main opposition to the bailout by the GOP was the massive amount of pork. $335 million to prevent STDs? Ooh and how about potentially billions to ACORN? I guess they owe them that one, huh? How is any of that going stimulate the economy. It's not like they needed to buy support - they own both houses and the executive. So what's the point of the earmarks?

I suppose the end of the GOP is one way to interpret the political scene... of course that can all be overcome by the label of a culture of corruption like in '06 (are you guys at 3 governors down in the last year?).

I would caution you not to assume too much about the resiliency of the goodwill of a single election cycle. All seemed roses in 2004 for the GOP and that turned quickly.

I'm not predicting anything but a historic candidate beating a marginal one doesn't mean much to me. The country hasn't swung ideologically just this year. Much of the lukewarm support for McCain was due to his LACK of conservative bone fides, not being too far to the right. I guess we'll see what happens next time after Obama follows roughly the same pull-out timetable as Bush laid out (successfully) and that's off the table.

Oh, it's good see the disgraceful Samantha Powers is back in the fold. When does Jeremiah Wright get back on the Christmas card list? I said BO was just a politician like any other and he seems to be in a race to prove me right.

Uncle Walt said...

Massive amount of pork?

Its a stimulus bill. With a heavy emphasis on improving and rebuilding infrastructure.

The STD prevention is under the broader category of Prevention and Wellness Fund which is a $3Billion fund to of which $2.35B goes to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The money for prevention of STD comes out of that larger program. We can disagree, but I think that research designed to keep the American people healthier could be money well spent.

Nowhere in the bill is any money allocated to ACORN, though as a group dedicated to helping those within our communities that need help, they might end up getting some of the Community Development money in the bill. Billions of dollars is unlikely, but I guess it technicall possible.

Your focus on Acorn is almost funny considering how the outcry about Acorn was so much about nothing. But I guess you ahve to have something to complain about.

But this is a stimulus bill. I expect the government to spend lots of money to help jump start an economy in severe distress after 8 years of Bush policies. I find it funny that few if any of those Republican's voted against any of George Bush's spending bills. I guess they have only discoverd Fiscal discipline now that they are no longer in charge.

One minor point. There are, that I could see, no earmarks in this bill. I looked, didn't find any.

We have had discussions about corruption before, I contended when Bush was in office that Corruption was a Bi-Partisan disease with the caveat that the party in power has more stuff to give away and is therefore going to get more opportunites to cheat. When Republican's were in power, many of them were corrupted. Now that Democrats are in power, some of our members will similarly be corrupted. I will not defend them. I think that some of the policies that President Obama has put in place will make it harder to be corrupt, but certainly not impossible. All in all though, corruption is the one thing in Washington, or any government, that is not the dominant province of any party.

I assume nothing based on any one election. This election simply continued trends that had developed over many cycles. And don't show any sign of reversing. In an increasingly multi-racial society, John McCain's electorate was 90% white. In an increasingly Urban society, Republican's did and still do rely heavily on rural voters. The trends are not new. 2008 just brought them into very clear focus.

I just find the whole reference to the Reverend Wright to be funny. Not sure how its relavent to the thread, but enjoy your smirk.

Matty said...

I actually don't enjoy my smirk....

I would prefer competence over correctly anticipating incompetence.

Uncle Walt said...

If you prefer competence, the you must have hated the last 8 years

(enjoying my own smirk!)

Secret word gensessi

Liz said...

Oh Walt, you made me laugh so hard with your last comment. I'm still laughing, thank you!!!!

Uncle Walt said...


I bow humbly as I accept your praise and adulation.

Actually I am grinning like a Cheshire cat.

Matty said...

Ah yes... the old "I know you are but what am I." Brilliant since 2nd grade.

The competence I was referring to was in reference to Powers return to the fold and BO's unique inability to find Dems to fill cabinet posts who aren't absolute morons. How do you not bother to pay over $100K is taxes? Do you really want to play the corruption game? I bet I can find more on your side than you can on mine... particularly those who are still serving.

I still don't see how cash to the CDC is a stimulus...

For the record, I was a not a fan of the spending spree under Bush and I think it's a big reason for true conservatives lack of enthusiasm this cycle (read: the GOP isn't conservative enough for the plurality of the nation that elected Bush in the first place).

Uncle Walt said...

I find it interesting that you see President Obama's decision to walk the bi-partisan walk and have 3 Republican's in his cabinet as some sort of proof that Obama can't find qualified Democrats. Maybe, just maybe, President Obama really does intend to try to work across the aisle.

I don't have any interest in comparative corruption. We could both trot out lists of hundreds of corrupt politicians from both sides still prove nothing. I don't know if you could list more corrupt Dems than I could Republican. I contend that corruption is not a partisan issue. I don't see any evidence that either party has a monopoly on either corruption or purity.

I am guess I don't understand the reference to Samantha Powers and competence. She is the Anna Lindh Professor of Practice of Global Leadership and Public Policy
Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University and a Pulitzer Prize winning author. I miss where/why you question her competence?

I am not going to try to find a justification for every line item in the stimulus plan. One man's stimulus is another man's pork. Every research project will have to employ researchers and assistants and contractors to do the work, so money to the CDC will result in more jobs.

I did find it interesting that when the Republican leadership published its list of items in the Stimulus bill it didn't like, it totaled about 2% of the total bill. ($19B). Of that $19B, $8.5B is construction, upgrading, or repair of Federal facilities. Construction jobs are classic stimulus jobs, just because they are working on Federal Government buildings doesn't mean that they won't stimulate anyting.

$1B is for purchasing or leasing more energy efficient cars. Lots of jobs building those cars and it should reduce our use of gasoline, might even end up saving us money.

$2B is for support to State and Local governments. This money is designed to prevent the layoff many state and local goverments might have to do of teachers, firemen and policemen because of the impact of the economic crisis on non-federal budgets.

A whole $2B (about 1/4 of 1% of the total) is for social programs

Republican opposition to this bill is purely political. If they really had any objection to what they might call pork, they wouldn't have loaded up budgets with pork for first 6 years of the Bush Administration. For them now to discover fiscal prudence is blatantly political.

President Obama has made it clear that he isn't wedded to specific provision in the House bill. Many of them will be removed from the Senate bill. Others will take their place. And the stuff that the Republican's object to will still be a tiny percentage of the bill.

So while this economy continues to slide, Republicans will quibble about the margins of the bill and slow things down, purely for political purposes.

Which brings me back to my original post.

By their obviously political grandstanding, the Republican party will continue to slide into irrelevance.

Which makes me smile.

The Coach said...

I find it interesting that not only Republicans have questions, doubts, even reservations about the stimulus package.

This article reviews some of the disparity between your view that the "marginalized" Republican viewpoint and the reality of other prudent thinkers also hesitating to rubber-stamp President Obama's bill.

Uncle Walt said...

The fact that some Democrats are working share the same concerns as most Republicans doesn't change my case. Democrats have never had the same party discipline as Republicans. But that doesn't change the trends.

The Republican Party has been badly spanked in the past two elections.

Their base constituency is white rural America, and that base is shrinking as a portion of the population.

As they have shown in the search for a new RNC chairman, Republicans are having trouble figuring out what it means to be a Republican, that loss of focus will make it hard to put forth a consistent and compelling reason for voters to return to them.

The President is pointing out, very nicely, that the policies that Republicans favor in addressing this current crisis are the same policies that got here in the first place. And America just rejected those policies last November. And the November before that.

Republicans only seem to have failed policies to support and obstructionism as their only tactic.

So despite the actions of a small number of Democratic legislators, the Republican Party has been marginalized. Able only to obstruct, not to lead or inspire or even propose viable alternatives.

Uncle Walt said...

If you want a good example of the current state of the Republican party look no further than the recent stragegy meeting of GOP House staffers where Joe the Plumber was invited to give the GOP advice on messaging.

Joe the Plumber!!!
His name isn't really Joe and he isn't really a licensed plumber. And the GOP is turning to him for advice!!!

A sure sign of strength!!

The Coach said...

Okay - GOP Republicanism is in its death throes. That's not the same as the idea that each of the ideals represented best by the Republicans are dead or not valued.

Now what? It seems to me that the strange bedfellows that parties bring together are serious problems.

The Democratic party lost the 2000 election on "Family Values" - perhaps in large part to Clinton's personal indiscretions - despite the popular appeal of certain Democrat-identified ideals like affirmative action and other "social justice" issues (something Democrats claim to only do well).

The Democratic party didn't win 49 of 50 states like Reagan did in '84; they won quite a few states and a practically unbeatable edge in the House but that's not quite the same.

It's futile to have either Party (as they currently are) actually in charge of the country as the Parties themselves are beholden to interests not in the best interest of the country.

Walt -

Are there issues that people in the GOP identify with (or that people identify with the GOP) that you think are important enough for Dems to grab onto?

We know already the President Obama is on the far-liberal side of the abortion issue - or at least has aligned himself as such.

How do President Obama and the Democrats intend to "reach across the aisle" to the other end of the spectrum to make genuinely useful change that they can agree on, for surely there are things we agree on?

Uncle Walt said...


I actually find in the current GOP that I fell is worthy.

I don't want to get lost in an argument about labels. I will use GOP and conservatives interchangibly. I am sure you can argue they are not the same and I won't disagree, but the political arm of the conservative movement in America today is the GOP so I am not sure that seperations are a distinction that actually make a difference.

To my eyes (blue tinted glasses) the GOP has a fatally flawed and overly simplistic fiscal philosophy. The GOP response to any fiscal question is to cut taxes. The GOP alternative to the Stimulus bill that passed the House was composed entirely of tax cuts. The studies I have seen are clear. Tax cuts that are not accompanied by matching spending cuts do not pay for themselves in the long term. They inevitably increase the annual deficits and accelerate the growth of the national debt. And Tax cuts are far less effective as stimulus than direct spending on things like infrastructure.

If you have seen studies to the contrary, I would be interested in seeing them.

The GOP also seems to believe that regulation of business is inherently destructive to commerce and should be very limited or even eliminated. A root cause of the stock market crash in 1929, and the banking crisis in 1932, as well as one of the root causes in the current banking disaster, is a lack of effective regulation. The GOP pushed for and got a lowering of the barriers between investment banks and commercial banks. Investment banks operate under far fewer restrictions than commercial banks regarding capital reserves and evaluating the quality of their assets. The result was that investment banks starting playing in the mortgage game. That is not the only cause of our current mess, there is plenty of blame to go around, but it is a major cause.

Socially, the GOP is in the embrace of Christian Conservatives. What comes from that in some cases is a level of intolerance, and a desire to legislate morality. Its my personal belief that I, as an adult, have the rigth to be an absolute idiot. I should be able to ingest my intoxicant of choice, as long as I don't endanger others while under its influence. I should be able to have sex with any other consenting adult in any way we chose as long as we do it in privacy. If a woman wants to sell me sexual services, I should be able to buy them, free from worry about either of us getting arrested. I should be able to marry any other adult I wish to marry, and the gender of my partner is no real business of the states.

So when I see the GOP in the thrall of a group that opposes, with legislation or constitutional amendments if possible, those things I believe, then I don't see much that I agree with in their positions.

I have seen no evidence that Republican's or Christian Conservatives have higher moral standards than liberals do or that they are more dedicated to families than liberals are. This claim by the GOP to some sort of lock on family values is not supported by any facts taht I know of.

Both the GOP and the Democratic Party are dedicated and committed to the defense of this great country. They have different approaches to the same goals, but we all share the same goals. We believe that we are better able to deal with the world if we start by talking, instead of starting by threatening or by attacking.

These are just the issues taht came to mind in response to your question. I went and reviewed the GOP platform from last years election and find little where I agree with the GOP over the Democratic party.

The GOP response to the issue of illegal immigration is counterproductive and sometimes comes across as nativist or even racist. Not all Republicans are racist, not even close. But many racist and white supremecist organizations have found common cause with Republicans on this issue and other issues around race such as affirmative action. Unfortunately you party is tainted by things like David Duke's reaction to the election of Michael Steele as Chairman of the RNC. As you may remember, he ran as the Republican candidate for governor of Louisiana not that long ago.

The Republican party has changed. It used to be an internationalist socially moderate fiscally conservative party. No longer.
And thats a shame.