Ignore the Republicans

In policy terms, to be sure, Republican critiques of the stimulus are important: We’re engaged in an extraordinary experiment in whether Keynesian economics works, and whether it works more effectively through spending or tax cuts. But politically, the critiques are irrelevant. The Obama stimulus will pass. For a while, the economy will almost certainly remain bad. If by 2011 and 2012 it starts to markedly recover—as the American economy did in 1983 and 1984—Obama will get the credit, no matter how many Republicans voted with him. Blue states and districts will grow bluer, and many of the Republicans who represent them will lose, or else retire before they can. (See Gregg, Judd). Republicans in safe conservative states and districts will keep their jobs, and watch Obama’s triumph in brooding insignificance.

If, on the other hand, the stimulus fails, and the economy is no better when Obama begins campaigning for reelection than it is today, all Republicans will benefit, whether they backed the stimulus or not.