Saturday, January 31, 2009

GOP governors weigh in on stimulus

Earlier this week the House GOP voted unanimously against the Obama stimulus package. From a political standpoint the vote made a lot of sense. Congressional Republicans are out of power, they essentially have zero responsibility when it comes to actual governance. Given that their vote was a pure political calculation. Democrats and Obama will receive the credit for any recovery no matter how many Republicans votes in favor of the stimulus bill so they had nothing to lose by opposing the bill. If it fails to bring about economic recovery House GOP members can say to the American people, "We told you so, now vote for us" in 2010. I honestly must applaud their caucus discipline.

Since the House Republicans though are not tasked with any actual governing they didn't have to concern themselves with the merits of the policy nor were they weighed down by any sense of duty or responsibility to the public. So what about Republicans who do have to concern themselves with policy and the public good?

Most Republican governors have broken with their GOP colleagues in Congress and are pushing for passage of President Barack Obama's economic aid plan that would send billions to states for education, public works and health care.

Their state treasuries drained by the financial crisis, governors would welcome the money from Capitol Hill, where GOP lawmakers are more skeptical of Obama's spending priorities.

The 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, scheduled meetings in Washington this weekend with Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and other senators to press for her state's share of the package.

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist worked the phones last week with members of his state's congressional delegation, including House Republicans. Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas, the Republican vice chairman of the National Governors Association, planned to be in Washington on Monday to urge the Senate to approve the plan.

"As the executive of a state experiencing budget challenges, Gov. Douglas has a different perspective on the situation than congressional Republicans," said Douglas' deputy chief of staff, Dennise Casey...

This past week the bipartisan National Governors Association called on Congress to quickly pass the plan.

When Republicans are forced to deal with the actual merits of the legislation as well as a duty to serve the public they support the Obama plan. When they're not, they don't. This is an important disctinction and one that emphasizes the purely political nature of the unanimous no vote from the House GOP. That vote is easy to understand from a political perspective, indeed I would have probably made a similar vote. We shouldn't though view that vote as any kind of judgment on the merits of the policy of the bill.

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