Via just about every blog I read comes news that the Senate doesn’t have the votes to pass the stimulus bill. Ezra interprets this to mean that they can’t overcome a filibuster, which seems like a reasonable assumption.
The real question here is why 58 Democrats can’t pass the president’s top priority. We’re learning that the minority still controls the Senate. So long as Republicans fundamentally don’t want a bill to pass, they can make virtually limitless demands.
Ok, I’m getting more than a little irritated here… I believe I’ve already expressed my concern that President Obama approaches conflict in a much too conciliatory manner. His oft expressed desire to acheive effective bipartisan governance sounds great, and probably plays well in largely Republican portions of the country. Unfortunately, as evidenced by the significant deficit in representation in the House of Representatives, most of the country is not largely Republican.
Amazingly, it seems that he has drastically underestimated the obstinance and irrationality of Republican Senators and Representatives. There have been numerous posts floating around about how President Obama and his administration have been virtually invisible while the Republicans in congress have co-opted this well-intentioned and vitally necessary bill into the epitome of wasteful government spending (revitalize the National Mall? What a waste!).
Regrettably, the Democratic leadership in congress is following the Administration’s lead. Where are the powerful and well known progressives (Speaker Pelosi… paging Speaker Pelosi) to make the case for spending as stimulus?
And now, the noises that there aren’t enough votes to pass this bill. I can understand why there aren’t enough votes to break a filibuster, since the Republicans are their typically unified selves in opposition, but why in the hell is Majority Leader Reid not threatening to make the Republicans actually filibuster? The habit of the Senate has become to not bring bills to a vote if there are not enough votes for cloture, essentially allowing a silent filibuster. Logistically, I can see some sense here… why waste the time? 41 Senators could maintain a filibuster indefinitely. But in this case?
President Obama has been talking about the need for urgent action since well before his inauguration, and every day the economy is noticably worse. Jobs are being cut, states are cutting funding for vital programs, and on and on…
Don’t the optics of Democrats united behind a stimulus bill (any stimulus bill really, but a good one would be even better), ready to enact the one thing that might stop the freefall, while Republicans visibily and vociferously obstruct the same look really good for Democrats? If the Democrats hit the media circuit hard, repeating over and over, that this bill is ready for passage (since they just need 51 votes for that) if the Republican would stop preventing this vital legislation while the Republicans can be seen on C-SPAN at all hours quoting recipes, wouldn’t Americans get fed up pretty quickly?
Where the hell are the Democrats here? Are they waiting for leadership from the Whitehouse? If so, why is President Obama being so timid? Why isn’t he on the TV in primetime making his case for the passage of this bill? I didn’t pay much attention to him, but was President Bush always on the tube when he had an agenda to push? Where’s the President? Where’s Speaker Pelosi? Where’s Majority Leader Reid’s spine?
This is getting ridiculous.
UPDATE: I just found an email from David Plouffe in my inbox… He links to some videos of President Obama discussing the stimulus, and then says:
You can help make sure the American people have all the facts so they can support this crucial effort to boost our struggling economy.
The President is leading. Help is on the way.
Lend your voice by sharing this video with everyone you know.
I understand that this grassroots thing worked in the campaign, but it was paired with, you know, a candidate in front of cameras at all hours of the day. On it’s own, it’s a little weak. Leading is not telling your supporters what they want to hear, and writing it an email certainly doesn’t make it so. He doesn’t appear to be doing his part to “make sure the American people have all the facts.”
C’mon, President Obama, you can do better.