Politics & Media
Jan 30, 2009, 05:01AM

It gets worse?

The stimulus package isn't the only thing the House Republicans are gumming up.

Update: Publius' gentler perspective added.

Pretty indicative of the current state of the Republican Party:

It's not just the goose egg that the House Republicans laid on the Democratic stimulus package yesterday: Boehner's Boys have been equally uncooperative on other matters. Case in point: a bill yesterday to delay the transition to digital TV. This measure was approved unanimously by the Senate; every Senate Republican gave it the green light. But 155 out of 178 House Republicans voted against it, which resulted in the measure's defeat since a two-thirds majority would have been required for passage under the House's suspension of the rules.

Or, take the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a seemingly fairly popular/populist (if not inscrutable) piece of legislation on gender-based pay discrepancies. This was something that Barack Obama whacked John McCain on on the campaign trail, with McCain offering little rebuttal. In the Senate, five Republicans -- out of 41 -- voted with the Administration on Ledbetter, including all four Republican women. In the House, just three Republicans did -- out of 178.

From Publius:

As regular readers know, I have rather profound policy disagreements with most Republicans.  That said, I don’t think that most of them subjectively see their policies as attempts to enrich the top income brackets.  Most of them presumably see their actions in ideological terms – e.g., they are promoting liberty; they are promoting small government; they are protecting the real creators of wealth in the American economy.

For Republicans who view themselves through "small government" narratives, the cognitive dissonance of the Gingrich/Bush era probably became unbearable.  After all, it's pretty hard to square Jack Abramoff and Tom DeLay and Ted Stevens with the ideological self-image most Republicans have. 

That’s why pork is such a cause célèbre among conservatives lately – it serves the psychological need of easing this dissonance.  We’ll basically ignore large spending increases and rank corruption – but we’ll make ourselves feel better by raising a big cathartic stink over 0.000000001% of the budget.

And that’s exactly what’s going on with the stimulus.  I frankly don’t really know what being a conservative means anymore.  And a lot of conservatives share this confusion these days.  But there’s at least some widespread consensus in the idea of limited government and lower taxes. 


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