But about $100 billion of the package is expected to go to a variety of business tax cuts, some likely to be at best marginally stimulative. Why is Obama doing this? One Capitol Hill Democrat familiar with the president-elect's recent meeting with congressional leaders said that Obama told Republicans that while he could probably get his program through with mostly Democratic votes, he preferred to win GOP support so that his program could pass quickly and be sustainable over time. (emphasis added)
So, according to Dionne (and I have no reason to doubt him), Obama is pretty openly sacrificing part of "his program" (which we can assume is his progressive spending promises) not so that he has enough votes to pass it - Obama says he "could probably" get that through as is thanks to big Democratic majorities. No, he's sacrificing "his program" so that he gets lots of extra Republican votes - most of which he doesn't mathematically need but which he wants.
Why does he want this? Dionne says "so that his program could pass quickly and be sustainable over time." That's a silly platitude - last I checked "bipartisanship" has nothing to do with speed or "sustainability over time." Last I checked, FDR passed the New Deal very quickly over Republican objections, and it's tenets lasted for almost three-quarters of a century. Last I checked, George W. Bush passed his tax cuts very quickly over Democratic objections, and those tax cuts continue to confine American politics to this day.
No, what this is about is Obama wanting to create a "bipartisan" image for himself. And that raises an important question: At a time when Obama is sounding the alarm about deficits, how much should taxpayers have to pay for political aesthetics? Put another way, how much should we have to pony up in order to help Obama make David Broder happy?
According to news reports this week, Obama thinks the answer is somewhere in the range of $100 billion to $300 billion. That's roughly how much he wants to devote to tax cuts in order to get Republican votes and construct a "bipartisan" image.
So I ask you - in a Congress where, according to Dionne, Obama himself thinks he could pass a totally progressive package with mostly Democratic votes, should taxpayers be forced to spend $100 billion to $300 billion so that Obama attains a more bipartisan image? I'd say no.
I'd say that the only important thing right now is to pass the most responsible, economically pragmatic package possible, which the data show is one comprised primarily of public spending. I'd say that's the most important thing, regardless of whether it passes by one vote or 99 votes. And I'd say that the Beltway's fetishization of "bipartisanship" aside, most Americans don't know - and don't care - by how much any bill passes. All they care about is whether what passes actually works to fix the economy.
But maybe you think I'm wrong. Do you think its worth spending $100 billion to $300 billion to get, let's say, 20 Republican Senate votes? That would be about $5 billion to $15 billion per GOP senator, who again - Obama admits he probably doesn't actually need for passage.