President Barack Obama on the stump in Illinois
last week. AP photo
It’s time for Barack Obama to play the race card.
As in: “I won, you lost, let’s get with the program.”
He needs to remind voters — and House and Senate Republican obstructionists — that winning the presidential race brought with it a mandate to fix a litany of problems left by the previous Republican administration.
Forget bipartisanship. He isn’t getting it; he won’t get it.
He needs to use his political clout in the House and Senate where the Democrats hold the majority to get the things done that American voters selected him to do.
The tell of the tape on the economic stimulus bill shows why there won’t be any bipartisanship:
- Vote Jan. 28 to approve House version of $819 billion stimulus bill — no Republican support;
- Vote last Monday to move the Senate’s $838 billion version to a vote — only three Republicans in favor (Collins and Snowe of Maine, Specter of Pennsylvania);
- Vote on Tuesday to approve the Senate version — same three Republicans in favor;
- House vote on Friday on the final $787 billion compromise bill — no Republican support;
- Senate vote on Friday on the final compromise bill — only Collins, Snowe and Sepcter among the GOP in favor.
And let’s not forget the Judd Gregg betrayal of bipartisanship. The New Hampshire Republican senator sought a cabinet appointment, was named to become the secretary of commerce, had second thoughts, then removed himself from consideration, citing “irresolvable conflicts”.
Obama can expect the same kind of unpartisanship when he moves forward with other crucial initiatives — health care and entitlement reform, for example.
It’s obvious his message won’t play within the Beltway, so he needs to keep doing what he started last this week. Take his message directly to the American voters.
True, it’s a gamble. If the recession deepens, if health care stays up as messed up as it is, if the country remains as messed up as it is, then the Democrats will pay the price.
But if the Democrats use their majority to get the voter-mandated initiatives in the works, and things indeed begin to improve in spite of the Republicans and improve the lives of most Americans, it’ll strengthen the Democrats’ position for the mid-term elections in 2010.
Just how out of step are House and Senate Republicans with Main Street?
Republican governors, who see the unemployed crowding their employment security offices, supported the stimulus bill and worked to get it passed.