Report: "Overwhelming" House GOP opposition to stimulus

Remember that poll we took yesterday about how many Republicans would vote for the bill? It’s a sign of how low the base’s expectations are for Congress at this point (and a rare case of the HA readership being as cynical as I am) that fully 52 percent of you thought it’d be 12 or more in the Senate and 25 or more in the House. I can’t believe I’m asking this, but … were we too pessimistic?

Just talked to a very clued-in Republican on the Hill. This person wouldn’t predict a unanimous Republican vote against the Democratic stimulus package, but said there would be “minimal” GOP support of the bill. “I don’t know if it will be unanimous, but Democrats are not going to have the kind of bipartisan support the president was trying to get,” he told me. An “overwhelming” number of Republicans will vote no, he predicted…

It’s also clear that Republicans, battered after big losses in 2006 and even bigger losses in 2008, are finding their feet on this issue. The House leadership is running hard on this, trying to make sure every Republican knows what is in the 647-page bill, and handing out individual analyses to each GOP member of what the bill, if passed, would cost his or her particular congressional district.

It’s going to pass, but the greater the media din about the porkiness of it, the more cover the GOP has to vote a party-line no, obviously. Even Democrats are unhappy:

The bill to be voted on today includes $30 billion for roads and bridges, $9 billion for public transit and $1 billion for inter-city rail — less than 5 percent of the package’s total spending. Administration officials have said they did not push for more infrastructure spending because of concerns about how many projects are “shovel ready” — a view that House members say is held most strongly by Lawrence H. Summers, Obama’s chief economic adviser.

Even though most House Democrats say they will back the plan, many reject the administration’s argument, saying that infrastructure projects could easily be expedited, that the economy will need additional infusions for years to come and that the real reason for shunning infrastructure was to make room for tax cuts. Obama, with a public mandate to do something big, is missing a rare opportunity to rebuild the country, they say.

“Every penny of the $825 billion is borrowed against the future of our kids and grandkids, and so the question is: What benefit are we providing them? What are we doing for the country? It’s the difference between real investment that will serve the nation for 30, 50 years and tax cuts, and that’s a very poor tradeoff,” said Rep. Peter A. DeFazio (D-Ore.).

The White House counters that they can pick up the slack later with regular appropriations bills but Obama’s got the same problem there as he does with TARP II: Once voters gag on this trillion-dollar pill, good luck asking them to swallow much more. Exit question: If the GOP’s defecting en masse, why doesn’t he reinsert the dopey pork about contraception and re-sodding the Mall into the bill and make his base happy? He’ll still pick up a few votes from vulnerable Republicans, for reasons Marc Ambinder (evidently parroting Democratic talking points) explains.