Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Clock-Punching Republicans

House Republicans were “feeling pretty relevant” this week as they voted unanimously against an $820 billion supplemental spending plan intended to counter the recession while taking advantage of the lull in the economy to get the government’s work done at a discount.

Yet the Republicans have offered no coherent explanation for their opposition to a plan that is supposed to help the economy, nor have they offered any alternate plan. It looks more like they are voting no out of habit. It’s a ten-year strategy of obstructionism that has seen the Republican Party lose 50 seats in the House, yet they somehow think it will continue to work its magic in its 11th year. Or maybe it’s just a feeble attempt to slow down the Obama train. Yet the result I expect is that the Senate makes a couple of amendments to the bill and passes it, the House passes the Senate version of the bill, and the only relevance the House Republicans will have is the same relevance that people out on the street will have: the opportunity to watch a bill pass without their participation.

It is hard to say what the Republican Party stands for these days. As Rep. Eric Cantor, a Republican leader in the House, said today, “At a moment when the country needs our help, it would be a great mistake for the House GOP to turn inward and simply become the party of ‘no.’” Yet Cantor and the rest of the Republicans are surprisingly mum about what they are trying to do.

It gives the impression of a party that is content to punch the clock — they want to go to the office, sit at a desk, and collect a paycheck, but raising their hands to say, “Yes, we want to solve the country’s problems,” is too much to ask of them.