For the past two months, President Obama has bent over backwards to act in a bipartisan manner to solicit Republican support for an economic recovery package. “The monopoly on good ideas does not belong to a single party,” Obama told Republican and Democratic leaders in a closed-door meeting before his inaugration. “If it’s a good idea, we will consider it.”
True to his word, Obama has gone to great lengths to demonstrate his commitment to bipartisanship:
— He attended a House GOP conference meeting to make an in-person appeal, “an exceptional gesture for any president.”
— He then joined a Senate Republican luncheon, spending “two hours and 37 minutes at the Capitol entirely with Republicans.”
— He hosted an inauguration dinner in honor of his Republican opponent John McCain. Obama also invited Republican and Democratic lawmakers to a White House “happy hour” after the House vote on the stimulus.
— He scheduled numerous White House meetings, including “one-on-one meetings” with GOP centrists in the Oval Office.
— Rahm Emanuel “invited a group of moderate Republicans to a private White House meeting.”
— Obama even welcomed a bipartisan group to the White House to watch the Super Bowl.
Obama’s actions were more than mere symbolic gestures. He introduced a package with over $300 billion in tax cuts to win conservative support. To win House GOP support, he responded to their concerns by stripping a sensible family planning provision and a jobs-creating provision to restore the National Mall. To win Senate GOP support, the White House and Democratic leaders accepted Republican amendments to the bill, including three amendments offered by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK).
According to a CBS poll, 81% of the public understands Obama “is trying to work with Republicans in Congress in order to get things done.” Nevertheless, many conservatives refuse to appreciate the efforts. On the Sunday shows yesterday, a host of right-wing Republicans took to the air waves to blast President Obama for not achieving bipartisan consensus on the economic recovery package.
ENSIGN: We should have put the best ideas on the table. This was one-party rule.
CORNYN: This is hardly a bipartisan effort. I think it’s a disappointment, it surely must be for President Obama.
McCAIN: This agreement is not bipartisan.
GINGRICH: The result has been a very partisan process.
While conservatives in the House and Senate engage in pure political theater, Obama has decided to go around them, appealing directly to the American public. Obama will visit Indiana today and Florida tomorrow to rally support for the recovery package.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is exhorting Senators to approve the economic recovery bill “without delay.”