When Barack Obama signed into law the largest spending bill in United States history, and by default the history of the world, many heralded it a great political achievement for his fledgling administration. Scarcely months into his presidency, Democrats, with Obama at the wheel, were able to drive through both the House and Senate, and ultimately back through the House again, the $789 billion stimulus with relative ease. However, those that applauded the President also failed to see what is painfully obvious: that this bill will go down in history as one of the most partisan pieces of legislation ever.
With large democratic majorities in both the House and Senate, Republicans never posed any real threat to the passage of the stimulus and thus the survival of the bill never depended on more than a few Republican senators for survival. Nevertheless, the fact that not one of the 178 Republican representatives was wooed over to the bandwagon could prove to be a big missed opportunity for the President.
Without a doubt, President Obama possesses an unprecedented amount of support and approval from the public and can seemingly do no wrong in the eyes of many. If anyone could have reached out in the spirit of bipartisanship, it would have been the President. Unfortunately, rather than live up to his campaign promises, Mr. Obama chose idealism over pragmatism and caved to every ideological whim of the far left in congress.
What is even more unfortunate for the President is that even a few small concessions, such as more money devoted to infrastructure (which the President himself seemed to prioritize during his campaign) could have convinced a few Republican representatives to vote for the bill.
With all his hopeless rhetoric in the past few weeks, the President seemed to have made it his goal to convince the public that the economy is deeply entrenched in a horrible recession. If this is the case, and I don’t doubt that it isn’t after listening to the President, it would not matter if the stimulus was passed this past week or next month, and more time could have been taken to modify the bill and make it more palatable to those on the other side of the isle (and more importantly, to more than 51 percent of Americans). The President seemed to have put quantity over quality when he said “not to make the perfect the enemy of the good,” while possessing the time, power and support, to make this bill more perfect instead of just good.
This is a hard time for many Americans and no one doubts the need to do something about the economy. Republicans are not just being obstructionists or sore losers, they don’t want to see this bill fail as recessions are apolitical and affect Republicans and Democrats alike. With so much at stake, it is in everyone’s interest that the stimulus works, and simply slowing down and hearing what others have to say can only ensure that the best measures are taken to restore the American economy. The fact is that should this bill fail absolutely, or even partially, Democrats will have no one to share the blame with or the “I told you so’s” from Republicans.