Saying Yes to the ‘Party of No’
One clear—and almost immediate–impact has been the single voice with which Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill have spoken since January on just about every Democratic proposal from cap and trade to universal healthcare.
“Their unity is in many ways astonishing because the Republican caucus is much more splintered,” says Michael Franc vice president for government relations at the conservative Heritage Foundation. They are not the automatons they may seem, and they actually like Obama as person, Franc says, but the liberal policies being pushed by him and congressional Democratic leadership have made it easy for Republicans to just say no.
“The $787 billion [stimulus bill] in the first few weeks of Obama’s administration struck a lot of people as rolling the dice with our economy. That was followed by other big proposals such as cap and trade, the auto industry takeover, setting executive pay, which are seen by voters as a fundamental shift from what government used to do,” says Franc. “A template has been set for not just minor change but change that will remake America and that’s the core of his political difficulties today”
It’s also beginning to set the stage for the 2010 election cycle, which Franc predicts will be more right line than the nation has seen in a long time, with little room for debate in the middle ground.
“A majority of Americans who wanted change are finding that the change they desired is more modest than the change being put before us today,” says Franc. A final healthcare reform bill in particular, he adds, will be a serve as a litmus test for a lawmaker’s tolerance for the level of government activity and involvement and Democrats running in conservative districts need to be prepared to defend their vote.