It wasn’t too long ago that the president and the liberal media cheerleaders were lambasting the Republicans as the “Party of No.” The voters would punish them for obstructionism, we were told. Republicans would regret not jumping on the Obama bandwagon, the Democrats decried.
But six months into the Obama administration, “No” is looking like a winning message.
The results of the Democrats’ stimulus package are plain. We have 9.5 percent unemployment nationally and fifteen states suffer from double-digit unemployment. In Michigan an astounding 15.2 percent are jobless.
Fred Barnes reminds us that the crowd who declared they “won” and didn’t need to incorporate Republicans ideas to jump-start the economy is now suffering the consequences of a stark and undeniable policy failure:
[Obama] made a rookie mistake early on. He let congressional Democrats draft the bills. They’re as partisan as any group that has ever controlled Congress, and as impatient. They have little interest in the compromises needed to attract Republican support. As a consequence, what they passed — especially the $787 billion stimulus — belongs to Democrats alone. They own the stimulus outright.
That makes them accountable for the hopes of a prompt economic recovery now being dashed. With the economy still faltering and jobs still being lost, Mr. Obama’s credibility is sinking and his job approval rating is declining along with the popularity of his initiatives. Republicans, who had insisted the stimulus was wasteful and wouldn’t work, are being vindicated.
The political fallout that mattered most, however, has been among Democrats in the House who will face tough re-election fights next year. They’re in a state of near-panic over the lingering recession. Their confidence in Mr. Obama is fading, and they no longer believe in quickly passing the president’s agenda. Cap and trade has been put off until the fall and health-care reform is starting to stall.
The House Republicans — all of them — voted against the stimulus. Only two Republicans and Arlen Specter voted for it in the Senate. That’s as clear a political divide as you are going to get. Not only do the Democrats now “own” the stimulus and the non-recovery, but Republicans are in a vastly improved position to argue that the economy is too anemic for cap and trade, the deficit too great for ObamaCare, and unemployment too high for card check and other Big Labor giveaways.
Obama, by deferring to Congress and indulging in his own left-wing ideology, has made every Democrat in a less-than-perfectly-safe seat nervous. How are they going to get elected by adhering to an agenda that offers so little for all but the most extreme ideologues? Obama, given his enormous popularity and the low repute in which the public regarded Republicans, had the chance to occupy the vast middle ground in the center of the political spectrum. But instead he ran left — far left. The result may prove to be perilous both for him and his congressional allies.
So there is little wonder that Democrats are nervous and the media pundits are fretting. The New York Times tells us:
Even as Democratic leaders and the White House insisted that the nation was closer than ever to landmark changes in the health care system, they faced basic questions about whether some of their proposals might do more harm than good.
And while senior Democrats vowed to press ahead to meet Mr. Obama’s deadline of having both chambers pass bills before the summer recess, some in their ranks, nervous about the prospect of raising taxes or proceeding without any Republican support, were pleading to slow down.
It seems that even Democratic congressmen like freshman Representative Jared Polis thinks that taxes “could cost jobs in a recession.”
Obama, certain of his ideology and in full spin-mode, appears entirely unwilling to reverse course and chart a pro-growth, job-creating agenda. As Robert J. Samuelson explains:
In February, Obama denounced “politics as usual” in constructing the stimulus. But that’s what we got, and Obama likes the result. Interviewed recently by ABC’s Jake Tapper, he was asked whether he would change anything. Obama seemed to invoke a doctrine of presidential infallibility. “There’s nothing that we would have done differently,” he said.
But the Republicans would have. And they no doubt will remind the voters of that in 2010. Then “The Party of No” may be a badge of honor — and a very effective campaign slogan.