Yesterday, Republicans rebuffed President Obama’s efforts at bipartisanship by refusing to deliver a single vote in favor of his economic recovery bill. Many Republicans appear to be clinging to the strategy of Rush Limbaugh, who has openly declared his hope that Obama fails.
While Republicans stood united against Obama, 11 Democrats broke with the President. Although there were some concerns about the stimulus plan expressed by progressives — such as Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), who felt like the spending provisions did not go far enough — they still voted for the bill because the benefits outweighed the drawbacks. The 11 Democrats who voted no were almost exclusively from conservative districts:
Allan Boyd (D-FL)Bobby Bright (D-AL)Jim Cooper (D-TN)Brad Ellsworth (D-IN)Parker Griffith (D-AL)Paul Kanjorski (D-PA)Frank Kratovil (D-MD)Walt Minnick (D-ID)Collin Peterson (D-MN)Heath Shuler (D-NC)Gene Taylor (D-MS)
Six of 11 (the italicized names) are members of Blue Dogs Coalition, which expressed concerns about the fiscal impact of the bill. But the Blog Dogs had extracted a pledge from Obama to balance the government’s checkbook, enabling most of them to support the economic stimulus plan. As for the others, here were some of the motivating factors.
Reps. Bright and Griffith — both freshmen congressmen from Alabama — voted along with many of their home-state colleagues against the bill. Rep. Artur Davis was the only Alabamian to vote for it. Both congressmen had been targeted by the National Republican Congressional Committee before the vote.
Freshman Rep. Kanjorski had been a skeptic of the stimulus plan, claiming it was put together too quickly and wouldn’t help the economy in the short term.
Freshman Rep. Kratovil barely squeaked out a win in a conservative Maryland district. Just days before the stimulus vote, Kratovil’s opponent in the last election announced he was planning to run again.
And finally, freshman Rep. Minnick told the LA Times today that he comes from “a very conservative district” in Idaho and said many people in his district listened to talk radio. “They listen to everybody, of course, and I’m influenced by them,” Minnick said.
Today’s Progress Report lays out the Republicans’ alternative stimulus proposals: “The Return To Bushonomics.”