Ever since the House Republicans refused to cast a single vote for the stimulus bill, liberal pundits and bloggers have pouted about the futility of outreach to the GOP. Obama met with them three times, the complaint goes, and got nothing for it. Denise Williams gives the typical analysis at Political Machine while discussing Rush Limbaugh, who helped rally conservative opposition to the bill:
My opinion remains mostly unchanged due to one main reason learned long and hard in the Clinton administration. No matter what you offer, no matter how many concessions you make, you’ll never get Republican Congresscritters on your side. Keep offering face-to-face meetings in the Oval, cocktail parties and Super Bowl get togethers, but you’ll change nary a vote. Anything else is naivete.
I don’t mean to pick on Denise, because she’s hardly the only one saying this, but it ignores some convenient realities. And the two biggest realities are that this is incredibly irresponsible legislation and that Nancy Pelosi insisted on the fully partisan attack approach from the beginning of the session.
Bipartisanship means working with the party in power to help craft the bill. While Obama did meet with Republicans to try to get their votes, Nancy Pelosi refused to do the same — and refused to negotiate any elements of the bill with House Republicans. Why should Republicans support a bill on which they’ve been locked out?
Bipartisanship doesn’t require Republicans to vote for terrible legislation. This so-called stimulus package is perhaps the most irresponsible economic legislation ever presented for a floor vote in Congress. And if you don’t believe that, try asking some of the Senate Democrats who have all but declared this dead on arrival in the upper chamber, at least in its present form.
Here’s a news flash for Democrats: If you want Republican votes on legislation in this session, buying Representatives a few drinks and inviting them to watch the Super Bowl won’t be enough. If Pelosi and Harry Reid insist on locking out the Republicans and blocking any amendment capability on bills, then the partisanship problem isn’t with the GOP. Rush Limbaugh is just a convenient excuse for the deliberately high-handed, arrogant approach by Democratic leadership — and the Republicans were right to reject it, especially on this porkfest of a bill.