Friday, February 20, 2009

The Republicans may have screwed themselves with their adamant stance against the stimulus bill. I get the fact that they stacked all their chips on the bet that Obama and this bill will not successfully impact the economy, and in effect they're hoping we transition from a recession to a depression (have to love that "country first" BS!).

But it may not work the way they believe. If the economy does in fact slowly recover, needless to say Obama (and the Dems) wins and the Republicans lose, game over. However, if indeed the economy stays in the tank and it appears as if the stimulus bill was all for naught, there is a good possibility the public will not immediately and categorically blame Obama (and the Dems) for this outcome. The Republicans may try to make the case that the $800 give/take billion was a waste, but the public isn't always that dumb and mindless. With the help from Dems, the public could realize that 1) 20/20 hindsight blame is cheap and easy, 2) at least Obama and the Dems tried, at least they tried to do something in the face of grave circumstances, and 3) the public will hopefully recall that the economy was already in deep, deep trouble before Obama set foot in the White House. It's more difficult to slowdown a runaway train once it's been able to attain higher speeds. As many have already written (particularly Paul Krugman), this stimulus bill may be too light to tackle the problems we now face, but arguably it also came too late.

As it is there's already signs of rescue plan fatigue. A few more such plans were announced recently and the stock market just heads lower on the news. People may now have low expectations that any of this stuff will work -- which further gets to my point. For the Republican plan to work, they need not only that Obama fail, but also that people have very high expectations that he will succeed. Regarding the latter, the public is hopeful and supports Obama, yet that doesn't necessarily mean they have high expectations given the daunting task(s) at hand (only the worst economy since the Great Depression).

To sum up, if the economy recovers this year, Obama and the Dems are big winners and the GOP huge losers. If the economy does not recover this year, and either remains as bad as now or possibly even gets worse, the Republicans still may not end up winners. They didn't try to do anything to help, were rooting against the president at the time, and the public may decide that given the degree to which the economy is and has been reeling, no one person or entity can be blamed for it.

In my mind, Republicans face more of a lose-tie or lose-nothing scenario on this matter as opposed to what they believe to be a lose-win situation. Regardless, one thing is clear: they're clearly betting against the economy, and the country.

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