Feb 12th 2009

Republicans Take Huge Political Risk Opposing Obama Jobs Bill

by Robert Creamer

Robert Creamer is a long-time political organizer and strategist and author of the recent book: "Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win," available on amazon.com.

You'd think that the results of November's election -- coupled with the collapse of the economy -- would begin to make Republican lawmakers question the consequences of their blind commitment to right wing economic orthodoxy.

Apparently most Republicans in Congress haven't gotten the memo -- although many formerly Republican-leaning independent voters got it some time ago.

Monday's Gallup poll found that 80% of voters felt that passing an economic stimulus proposal was important or very important (51% very important, 29% important).

Yet every single Republican voted no when the Obama economic recovery package passed the House -- and all but three voted against in the Senate. Eric Cantor, the new House Republican Whip, put it clearly: "just say no" to the economic recovery package he told his colleagues. Cantor is basically herding those colleagues over a political cliff.

And be clear: support for the Obama economic recovery program is not limited to "blue" states. Pollster Stan Greenberg presented a poll at last week's House Democratic Caucus retreat that had sampled opinion in 40 swing congressional districts. It showed that 64% of voters in those districts supported the Obama economic recovery plan and only 27% opposed.

What makes matters worse for the Republicans is that they have chosen to place a political bet against an economic recovery. President Obama and Democrats in Congress understand clearly that their political fortunes in the Congressional mid-terms and the next Presidential are tied completely to their success in turning the economy around.

Democrats understand that as much as their November success was boosted by their charismatic presidential candidate, it also had to do with the catastrophic failure of Republican economic and foreign policies. Bush learned too late that all of Karl Rove's spin couldn't put their political coalition back together again once the economy broke into a thousand pieces. It's not just the sizzle -- it's the steak.

That's why Obama's team isn't just focused on messaging about the economy -- they are determined to deliver the goods.

For those of us who believe in the effectiveness of bottom-up economics, it's a safe bet that by November 2010 -- and certainly by 2012 -- Obama's progressive economic policies will result in a much improved economy. That will leave the Republican nay-sayers with a lot of explaining to do.

Normally, the party out of power gains seats in the first mid-term election after the inauguration of a new president. But the combination of economic improvement, a popular, engaging president, and Republicans who "just say no" to economic recovery could lead to an historic catastrophe for the GOP in 2010.

By obstinately opposing Obama's plan to create or save 4 million jobs, Eric Cantor and the rest of the Republican leadership could be leading his followers from their current political wilderness into "never-never" land.

Robert Creamer is a long-time political organizer and strategist and author of the recent book: "Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win," available on amazon.com.

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