Thursday, February 12, 2009

GOP 'Jumping Off Electoral Cliff' By Opposing Stimulus Bill, Poll Finds

A Strong 59 Percent of Americans Support President Obama's Stimulus Bill -- and 64 Percent Approve of His Performance as President So Far -- While GOP's Approval Rating Remains Dismal at 31 Percent, According to New USA Today/Gallup Poll; House GOP Whip Cantor in Controversy Over Profanity-Laced Web Video

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After taking back-to-back losses to the Democrats in the 2006 and 2008 elections, Republicans should be feeling pretty blue these days. Yet Republicans on Capitol Hill (with the notable exceptions of Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania) appear to be heading toward electoral oblivion by fiercely opposing President Obama's economic stimulus packacge, despite a new poll showing that a 59 percent majority of Americans support the president's stimulus proposal and a 64 percent majority approve of his overall performance as president -- while Capitol Hill Republicans have drawn a dismal 31 percent approval rating. (Image courtesy

(Posted 5:00 a.m. EST Thursday, February 12, 2009)
(Updated 5:00 a.m. EST Saturday, February 14, 2009)



WASHINGTON -- Handing the new administration a huge Valentine's Day gift, Congress gave final approval Friday to a $787 billion recovery package that President Obama hopes will help boost an economy in freefall with a combination of government spending and tax cuts and credits.

Approved without a single "yes" vote by House Republicans and with only three "ayes" by GOP senators, the plan -- which went through multiple permutations as it bounced back and forth on Capitol Hill over the past week -- now goes to Obama's desk, where he plans to sign it into law by Monday -- Presidents' Day.

The bill was approved 246-183 in the House and 60-38 in the Senate. With Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) absent, the vote by the Senate took several hours longer than the usual roll call of its 100 members generally would, to allow Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) to return to Washington on a government plane from his home state after he attended a wake for his mother.

Only three Republicans -- Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania -- supported the measure in the Senate. Their support was needed to give the plan the 60 votes needed to keep it from being shut down by a Republican filibuster.

-- Associated Press and CNN

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Republicans opposed to President Obama's multi-billion-dollar economic stimulus package may find themselves jumping off a political cliff to electoral oblivion, for they're also bucking the will of a strong 59 percent majority of the American people who support the measure, according to a newly-released USA Today/Gallup Poll.

The public gives Obama a strong 67 percent approval rating for the way in which he is handling the government's efforts to pass an economic stimulus bill, the poll finds, while the Democrats and, in particular, the Republicans in Congress receive much lower approval ratings of 48 percent and 31 percent, respectively.

Meanwhile, the office of newly-elected House Republican Whip Eric Cantor has come under fire for posting an obscenity-laced video on the Web in response to a hard-hitting TV ad that attacked the Virginia Republican and other GOP leaders for encouraging his colleagues to "just say no" to the president's economic recovery plan.

Cantor's Web ad depicted the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the union representing public-service workers -- and one of the two main sponsors of the anti-Republican TV ad -- as bullies, complete with a foul-mouthed narration supposedly by a union spokesman.


The new Gallup findings, based on interviews conducted February 6 and 7, underscore the degree to which Obama appears to be maintaining the upper hand over his GOP opponents from a public opinion perspective as he and congressional leaders wrangle over the precise form and substance of the economic stimulus plan.

They also underscore the increasingly difficult political climate that House and Senate Republicans are finding themselves in after the drubbing they took in last November's election -- and the growing risk that their continued opposition to the stimulus package could result in their party being branded obstructionists standing in the way of the voters' mandate for a change in direction from the Bush administration.

Moving with lightning speed, the House-Senate Conference Committee reached agreement Wednesday on a final consensus version of the stimulus bill, with a $789 billion price tag. The measure, designed to preserve and create millions of jobs in a nation reeling from recession, could reach Obama's desk for his signature as early as Saturday.

The House is scheduled to vote on the compromise bill today (Thursday), with the Senate likely to follow suit on Friday, before Congress takes a one-week President's Day holiday recess. Obama set a deadline of President's Day on Monday for the bill to reach his desk.

The House passed its version of the stimulus bill last week without a single "aye" vote from the 178 House Republicans. The Senate version passed on Tuesday with only three GOP senators -- Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania -- voting in favor.

All three GOP senators who voted yes represent heavily-Democratic states where Obama won easily last November. The moderate Specter, Pennsylvania's senior senator, is up for re-election next year -- and already is facing the threat, for the second consecutive election, of a bruising primary fight with a right-wing challenger for the GOP nomination.

Republican Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, nominated by Obama to be the next commerce secretary, abstained from Tuesday's Senate vote on the stimulus bill -- but stunned Washington on Thursday when he abruptly withdrew his nomination, citing "irresolvable conflicts" with Obama over the stimulus bill.

Gregg's withdrawal immediately sparked speculation that he would vote against the compromise stimulus bill when it comes up for a final vote in the Senate either Friday or Saturday.


The new polling data released by Gallup shows the sharp divide between the public's positive views of how Obama has handled efforts to pass the stimulus bill and its negative views of how the Republicans have handled this -- a divide that has grown to a stunning 36-point chasm that could prove dangerous to the GOP in the 2010 midterm elections.

The president's overall job-approval rating (64 percent as of February 8) is very close to his approval rating on the stimulus. Only 25 percent disapprove.

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll released Friday gave Obama even higher marks, with 76 percent of respondents approving the president's job performance, while only 22 percent disapprove.

The poll found that an overwhelming 80 percent of respondents say the president is providing strong leadership for the country, 76 percent say he's doing a good job handling foreign policy, 72 percent say Obama's doing a good job dealing with the economy and 68 percent give the president a thumbs-up when it comes to handling policies on terrorism.

In sharp contrast, the Republicans in Congress receive a much lower approval rating of 31 percent in the USA Today/Gallup Poll, while 58 percent disapprove. The GOP's approval rating is nonetheless six points higher than its 25 percent approval rating in a previous Gallup survey in Demcember.

These relatively positive sentiments toward Obama were reflected in recent Gallup polling that asked Americans whether their confidence in Obama's ability to improve the economy and manage the government had gotten better or worse since his inauguration.

At least 50 percent of Americans said their confidence had increased, while only 17 percent to 18 percent said they had less confidence.

Congressional Democrats, however, didn't fare as well, with only 48 percent approving of the way Democrats on Capitol Hill are handling the economic crisis, while 42 percent disapprove.


A spokesman for Cantor apologized late Wednesday afternoon amid a firestorm of controversy over an obscenity-laced video he included in an e-mail he sent out on Tuesday in response to a hard-hitting TV and radio advertising blitz by AFSCME and the labor-backed Americans United for Change demanding that Cantor and other GOP leaders get behind the president's stimulus package and "stop saying no."

Spokesman Brad Dayspring, who initially stressed he had sent out as a joke, issued a written apology for the video, which he insisted his boss knew nothing about in advance and that "in no way" was it an official response from the Virginia Republican to the stimulus TV ad.

"Let me be clear," Dayspring wrote, "we know people are hurting in these trying times and House Republicans completely agree that we must pass an economic recovery bill that preserves, protects and create jobs for Americans facing these economic challenges." It was not clear as of early Wednesday evening what disciplinary actions, if any, would Cantor take against Dayspring.

The video is an altered version of a 1970s TV ad promoting the public-employee union. The audio portion, which originally extolled the virtues of the union, was redubbed to a voice reminiscent of Peter Paul (Paulie Walnuts) Galtieri -- mobster Tony Soprano's chief enforcer in the highly-popular HBO drama, "The Sopranos" -- that says the following:

"On your way to work tomorrow, instead of sittin' around with your finger up your [bleep], look around," the voiceover says. "There's a union out there called AFSCME and they're bustin' their [bleep]s doin' a lot of [bleep] work you take for granted.

"For example, we pick up your [bleep]in' garbage," the voiceover continues. "We've got broads [crossing guards] out there who keep your kids from gettin' rolled by some [pervert]. . . We plug up the holes in the roads so that you don't [bleep] up your car. . .We make sure your kids don't drink [urine] from the [bleep]in' water fountains. . .

"We're hard-workin' taxpayers like you and we don't take [bleep] from nobody," the voiceover finishes. "You got that, [bleep]hole? AFSCME -- the [bleep]in' union that works for you!"

Brad Woodhouse, the head of Americans United for Change, denounced the video as "a childish and disgusting response to one of the most serious crises facing America in our lifetimes."

AFSCME President Gerald McEntee also denounced the video. In a statement, McEntee said that Cantor "may think the greatest economic crisis in seventy years is a joke, but we don’t. He should talk to the people in Virginia who are losing their jobs, health care and homes."


There was no direct comment from Cantor on the video furor. As House GOP Whip, Cantor -- along with Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Caucus Chairman Mike Pence (R-Indiana) -- have more important things to worry about -- Namely, whether they can maintain the unanimous "no" vote when the compromise version of the stimulus bill comes to the floor of the House for final passage.

To vote "no" a second time — after concessions were made in the final House-Senate compromise bill — carries heavy political risks. House Republicans already getting pummeled by ads branding them the “No” party -- especially those from the hard-hit Midwest -- have to be worried about being seen as obstructionist at a time of the nation's most serious economic crisis since the Great Depression.

Not to mention bucking a highly popular president who's staked his still-fledgling tenure in the White House on turning the economy around and has waged a full-court press for Congress to act -- and the legions of the president's supporters are bombarding Republicans with e-mails, faxes and phone calls demanding that they support the bill.

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Volume IV, Number 12
Copyright 2009, Skeeter Sanders. All rights reserved.


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Don Plotner said...

The GOP is just positioning themselves for the 2010 elections if the stimulus package is unsuccessful. They will market it in all of their political ads. But, if it is successful, which we all hope it is, then you are right. I also want to not that I am a republican.