In the end, the support from the three “moderates” was crucial to passing the stimulus bill. Because of Sen. Ted Kennedy’s absence, the GOP needed only one more Senate vote to mount a sustainable filibuster. Had even one of the apostates stood strong, Republicans would have been able to fashion a genuine compromise bill.
After all, without the votes in the Senate, President Obama and congressional Democrats would have been forced to go back to the drawing board and actually listen to Republicans. A true compromise would have certainly included plenty of wasteful spending, but it would have also included tax cuts that would actually help our economic recovery. Instead, Specter, Snowe and Collins snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.
Republicans might be in the minority, but that doesn’t mean they have to be completely powerless. It doesn’t mean they have to relinquish the country’s economy to a left-wing agenda. But in order to protect American taxpayers, Republican leadership in the Senate will have to make sure the so-called moderates don’t wander off the reservation every time Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., comes calling.
The stimulus bill was only the first test of the Republican unity in Congress. President Obama has since announced a bailout of the housing industry and is already talking about the prospect of a second stimulus bill. We also have “card check” and cap-and trade legislation to look forward to in the coming months. And don’t forget Obama’s big plans to remake our health care system in Europe’s image.
The Republican Party’s ability to mount a filibuster is its only weapon in seeking true compromises with the Obama administration. Throughout the campaign trail, the president talked about bipartisanship and change. The Republican Party cannot suffer defectors if it wants to make Obama live up to his campaign pledges.
If the GOP cannot unite, then the stimulus bill will not be the only defeat Republicans will snatch away from the Democrats.