How Could They?

Jan 29, 2009 12:17pm

How could they? Here's how.

"They" are the House Republicans, zero of whom voted for President Obama's economic stimulus package yesterday. What makes them – depending on your perspective – courageous or foolish enough to stand against a popular new president facing a vast economic crisis on which the public demands action?

In fact it's no mystery. I blogged back on Inauguration Day about the deep unlikelihood of post-partisanship, given the broad and substantive ideological and partisan differences that exist in this country; and again Monday on the way these play out particularly in terms of views of the stimulus. GOP leaders apparently got the memo.

The simple fact is that the stimulus package is far less than broadly popular among Republicans. They are deficit-shy, skeptical of large government programs and untrusting of Democrats, the president included. That is simply part of the shape of our politics.

Consider the table below. The numbers speak for themselves; these are enormous differences. What they mean is what yesterday's House vote displayed: that even in the opening days of the Obama era, partisanship is alive and well.

                                  Dem  Rep  Ind  D-R diffObama: Good start on economy       82%  42   60   40 pts

Support $800b stimulus             84   52   69   32Support it "strongly"              58   22   44   36

More important: Stimulus spending                  62   38   50   24Controlling deficit                34   58   46  -24

Confident:In Obama's economic program        92   43   74   49That it'll have adequate controls  66   27   39   39

Prefer:Larger govt, more services         62   21   41   41Smaller govt, fewer services       33   77   55  -44
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