House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) has created a YouTube video set to the tune of Aerosmith’s “Back In The Saddle” boasting that zero Republicans voted for the recovery package. The video is called “The House GOP is Back.” Watch it:
I'm not quite sure that having near-unanimous opposition to the stimulus bill is a political winner. After all, the public seems to approve of Congress's passage of the bill:
Gallup's latest congressional job approval rating, from a Feb. 9-12 poll, shows a sharp 12 percentage-point increase from last month, rising from 19% to 31%. While still quite negative on an absolute basis, this is the best rating for Congress in nearly two years.
Of course, not all Republicans are in the Canter camp. As a matter of fact, there is clearly a Republican divide forming, and that was made clear in the party's approach to the stimulus bill. Jason Linkins at Huffington Post has a great article on this. In it, he quotes Bush 41 speechwriter David Frum, who made reference to the GOP assertion that the stimulus bill would give millions of dollars to salt-marsh mice:
The problem with the story is not that it was false. The problem with the story is that it was stupid.
The US economy has plunged into severe recession (94% of Americans describe economic conditions as "bad," according to the Feb 2-4 CBS poll, and 51% say conditions are getting even worse).
President Obama and the Democrats have responded by steering the US radically to the left. Since World War II, the federal government has most years spent less than one dollar in five of national income. Once the stimulus gets underway, the federal government will spend more than one dollar in four. The cost of everything the Democrats want to do comes closer to one dollar in three.
We're facing more regulation of everything from high finance to the ordinary workplace. The Democrats are expanding Medicaid to crowd out private insurance. The federal government wants a huge new role in redirecting private investment in transportation and energy in the name of "green jobs."
And facing all this – we're talking about mice?
Could we possibly act more inadequate to the challenge? More futile? More brain dead?
We in fact have a constructive solution to offer, one that would deliver more jobs faster: the payroll tax holiday, an idea endorsed by almost every reputable right-of-center economist. But that's not the solution being offered by Republicans in Congress. They are offering a clapped-out package of 1980s-vintage solutions, including capital gains tax cuts. Capital gains! Who has any capital gains to be taxed in the first place?
Actually, the "story" that the stimulus bill would give millions to "mice" is false. It gives $30 million to wetlands preservation, some of which might go to marshes in the West Coast, some of which contain salt-water mice (as well as other creatures and flora).
I think the Republicans had a point when they attacked the stimulus package as creating a huge deficit that will increase the burden on future generations. This is, no doubt, true. But the problem for Republicans politically is that they were silent for years, when Bush 43 ran massive deficits.
It just seems odd to be so concerned about fiscal conservatism now.