The stimulus bill is proof positive that elections have consequences. Let’s think about this for a moment.
To get his stimulus bill through Congress, President Obama needs 60 votes in the Senate. Because the Democrats picked up quite a few Senate seats this past fall, they got close to the magic 60 seat number with Democrats alone, Obama only needed a couple Republicans to get to 60. He got Snowe, Collins and Specter and bingo! He has a bill that will eventually wind up on his desk. Imagine if he needed 5-7 more Republicans. This stimulus bill would be dead.
Look, if this stimulus bill passes with just 3 Republicans supporting it then the President is going to take his lumps on bi-partisanship. Stories will be written about how he came to Washington to reach out to the other side and he pretty much was stymied by the Republican elephants. I can already read the headlines:
“Obama gets his Stimulus Bill but work to be done on Bi-Partisanship”
Or maybe a New York Post headline like,
“ Bama gets Bucks but gets Bucked by GOP”
The bottom line is that there are two short term storylines. The first one will be about how President Obama needs to build more consensus and the other will be that the President got his first major initiative through Congress. But the real story is long term.
The real story will come in two years. If this bill doesn’t hit the magical three million job mark or the economy is still floundering then the Republicans will have major ammunition to say the stimulus was a dud and they’ll lay they blame on Democrats saying this was an Obama/Reid/Pelosi et al fiasco. It will be in a couple years when we will truly understand the real significance of this whopper of a bill. If the bill does help, then Republicans will have to dig out from an even deeper hole. This is political high stakes with the economic fate of millions of Americans in the balance.