Republicans in Congress, who paid a dear price in the last two elections for their fealty to George W. Bush, are well on their way to proving – again – just how much easier it is to be the minority party.
Exhibiting a level of public and private partisan loyalty glaringly absent in the dying days of their majority, they've spent the first few weeks of Barack Obama's presidency loudly and persistently raising a series of trivial-but-digestible objections to the economic stimulus package now stuck in the Senate. Their message is easy to understand – the price tag is obscene! – and they've hyped a series of proposed expenditures, like a since-dropped provision that would have used Medicaid money for contraceptive programs, to stoke public outrage and to portray bill as little more than a giant tray of pork.
Never mind that that the "pork" they've itemized accounts for a statistically insignificant portion of the proposed spending and that they oversaw a veritable orgy of spending in their majority years (during which time the national debt swelled to nearly $10 trillion): People are buying it. An eye-opening Rasmussen poll released on Wednesday found that a plurality of Americans – by a 43 to 37 percent spread – now oppose the stimulus package.
This raises two previously improbable questions: Is it actually possible for Republicans to defeat the stimulus package (or at least force alterations that would render it unrecognizable)? And even if he does get his way in the end, will Obama actually suffer for it in the court of public opinion?
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