Archive for Sunday, November 7, 2010

GOP comeback relied on sagging economy

November 7, 2010


House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio, right, with Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., speaks at a news conference Wednesday on Capitol Hill in Washington.

House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio, right, with Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., speaks at a news conference Wednesday on Capitol Hill in Washington.

— All but wiped out in 2008, Republicans groping for a comeback strategy determined there would be no swift return to economic health under incoming President Barack Obama.

They soon also agreed privately to oppose his major legislation.

Over the next two years, they criticized, attacked, voted against and then attacked some more as Democrats struggled to pass an economic stimulus measure, health care legislation and a bill to rein in Wall Street. Unemployment, 7.4 percent when Obama took office, soared to 10.1 percent, then barely budged for months.

On Election Day, those calculations made in Republican suites in the Capitol reaped dividends that must have seemed almost unimaginable even to the architects of their strategy: a gain of 60-plus House seats, enough to win a majority and end two years of Democratic dominance in Congress, as well as six new seats in the Senate.

“By sticking together in principled opposition to policies we viewed as harmful, we made it perfectly clear to the American people where we stood. And we gave voters a real choice,” said Mitch McConnell, the Senate’s GOP leader from Kentucky. “As Democrats governed left, Republicans stood together time and again, making the case for conservative alternatives.”

Ed Gillespie, a former Republican National Committee chairman, said “nobody was rooting for unemployment to remain high.” Gillespie, who was involved in GOP-aligned groups that raised tens of millions of dollars for independent campaign ads against Democrats, added that “the philosophy of Republicans in Congress is that the answer to our economic problems is not more spending, more government regulation, more mandates. So they opposed his policies on principle, and one of the reasons they don’t support his approach is because they don’t think it works.

“At the end of the day,” he said, “the public agreed with them.”

There was more to it.

Many economists agree the economic stimulus, with its combination of tax cuts, aid to states and federal spending on construction and other areas, did create jobs. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress in July that “we should maintain our stimulus in the short term” to strengthen the recovery and help reduce unemployment.

It was not a point Republicans chose to acknowledge.

The Republican Party chairman, Michael Steele, was scathing in his criticism. “The Democrat plan focuses on putting Americans on the public dole,” he said, citing expanded unemployment benefits, food stamps and other federal help.

Newt Gingrich, campaigning for fellow Republicans, sought to define the Democrats as the party of food stamps and the GOP as the party of paychecks.

In many ways, Republicans did exactly what a minority party does — creates bright lines of distinction by opposing the party in power.

But, at the outset of Obama’s administration, it wasn’t politically popular to take on a new president with such a sky-high approval rating at a time when the country was in bad shape.

The strategy was nothing short of audacious.

Republicans correctly foresaw that unemployment would rise, and that if the economy remained weak, Obama and Democrats would get little or no credit from the voters for having stopped a near collapse. The GOP would not have fared so well if voters had agreed with leading economists who said things would have been much worse without those actions, or if Obama’s economic fixes had hastened the recovery.

“When they chose to oppose everything, the only path to success was that he fails and the country fails. That’s a high risk strategy,” said Steve Elmendorf, a Democratic operative and lobbyist. “They couldn’t have gotten away with saying no the past two years if the economy improved. But the economy didn’t improve, and people were still unhappy. And they won.”

Had Republicans gone along with Obama’s plans and put their fingerprints on his policies, voters would have had a less clear delineation on who to fault.

Said Terry Holt, a Republican operative close to House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio: “Republicans won not for guessing right about the economy but for being right about the economy.”


quik 7 years, 6 months ago

Hey LJW, can we get this opinion piece removed from the news section and placed in the editorials where it belongs?

"The strategy was nothing short of audacious."

How audacious did the Republicans have to be to simply go along with the public on all of these issues?

Butterflies 7 years, 6 months ago

The rebumlicans ruined everything. They'd NO'd the country into this mess we are in. It takes twice as long for me to get my checks and food stamps now. Obama is doing the best he can in India to save us. I just don't know why rebumlicans are so mean. They don't care anything about the earth warming and the corporate greed. Why are they unpatriotic?

They ruined cash for clunkers, stimulus for unions, healthcare for 40 million people that have nothing to save their children.

I need a drink.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 6 months ago

The USA voters were not very smart this election period. Republicans have not balanced a budget since Dwight D. Eisenhower with and democrat dominated house and senate.

Republicans have substantially destroyed our economy twice in the past 30 years which is operating more like a crime syndicate rather than sticking with sound economic policies.

These are about corporate and political fraud not sound economic polices:

  1. The Reagan/ Bush Savings and Loan Heist( millions out of work) "There

are several ways in which the Bush family plays into the Savings and Loan scandal, which involves not only many members of the Bush family but also many other politicians that are still in office and were part of the Bush Jr. administration.

Jeb Bush, George Bush Sr., and his son Neil Bush have all been implicated in the Savings and Loan Scandal, which cost American tax payers over $1.4 TRILLION dollars (note that this was about one quarter of our national debt").

The Reagan/Bush savings and loan heist was considered the largest theft in history at the time. George Herbert Walker Bush then took $1.4 trillion of taxpayers money to cover the theft.

  1. The Bush/Cheney Wall Street Bank Fraud on Consumers(millions out of work) Yes, substantial fraud was involved. For example, mortgage companies and banks used deceit to get people to take on mortgages when there was no possibility that the borrowers would be able to meet the payments. Not only was this fraud, but this fraud depended on government authorities(Bush admin) ignoring their regulatory responsibilities."

  2. Only 3 major Financial Institutions were at risk in spite of what we’re told ? "There were just a handful of institutions that were terribly weakened. AIG the insurer, Bank of America and Citigroup, Those three were clearly in very weakened form. Many of the other big banks simply were not.

Butterflies 7 years, 6 months ago

I don't know who you are merrill, but I love you!! Rebumlicans are starving us!! Obama has to save us from the mean white Rebumlicans!! YOU are the best poster so far. Everyone else must watch Faux News.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 6 months ago

A. Clinton had to come and clean up after the Reagan/Bush home loan scandals against the Savings and Loan Institutions.

This fraud:

  1. Wiped out retirement plans connected to savings and loan institutions

  2. Put millions of formerly retired people back into the job market who were 60's and older. The job market at this time was no better than today.

  3. Taught millions how to appreciate Social Security and Medicare

B. Then Obama had to come in and clean up after a repeat performance by Bush/Cheney only on a much grander scale.

C. Jeb Bush defaulted on a $4.56 million loan from Broward Federal Savings in Sunrise, Florida. After federal regulators closed the S&L, the office building that Jeb used the $4.56 million to finance was reappraised by the regulators at $500,000, which Bush and his partners paid. The taxpayers had to pay back the remaining 4 million plus dollars.

D. In essence what we have is democrats cleaning up fraudulent financial disasters republicans leave behind and needing to create huge numbers of new employment for Americans who were screwed by republican party activity.

The problem is not a missing link verifying whether or not our stimulus money is creating new jobs. The problem lies within the republican party that which destroys families by the millions.

Again these white collar crimes under republican watch are teaching millions how to appreciate Social Security and Medicare under rather unpleasant circumstances. WE do not want to turn Social Security and Medicare over to white collar criminals.

Butterflies 7 years, 6 months ago

I love you merrill! You are the only one that makes sense this morning!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 6 months ago

Republicans now may have the chance to finish what they started-- the complete trashing of the economy.

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