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April 27, 2009

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There was no coherent principle here at all.

"Look at me!" is a coherent principle; and "Maximize facetime" is a coherent principle -- they're just not very lofty ones.

Collins' staff, (which has some interesting ties to the Rove apparat) has sold her the idea that she can be the antidote to a GOP spiral into irrelevance as a regional party.

It's a Nixon-goes-to-China argument - portray Collins as:

- "Moderate", when her party isn’t.
- Northern, when her party is Southern.
- A woman in a party of pasty white dudes.
- Proven ability to pull Democratic votes -- ask Tom Allen.

The idea was to use the stimulus fight to introduce America to this new, bipartisan, split-the-difference, high Broderite Great White Hope. That was the significance of the cuts.

It's utterly bizarre to me that you (and others) are, in effect, happier with the "intellectual honesty" of the asshole GOPers who did everything in their power to kill the stimulus bill than with those who performed some political posturing in order to -- this is important -- give Obama the bill he needed. You really have to tie yourself in a political knot to be more impressed with an ideological stand you oppose and got us nothing, than with a process stand you oppose, but which got us the bill.

She used pandemic flu because it can me argued as "not stimulus." The vast majority of the republicans didn't want to fund any of it. Not one single dime. Shouldn't those be the real targets?

One apparently has to justify NOT spending $80 billion.

One who doesn't think spending money that we don't have is "preening" and "incoherent".

As you have said yourself, "livestock" "crap".

Evie, exactly what was keeping Collins from giving Obama the bill he needed without the "political posturing" -- posturing that has real consequences for the people who might have been helped by the additional stimulus? It's not like she actually believed that these randomly selected programs from the package were any different from the rest of the programs, or that the final total she came up with was arrived at by a complex calculation based on her own economic models (rather than just "take whatever it is and cut some off it"), or that she'd be in any danger of a revolt by her constituents if she just went along with Obama's program.

Evie - I'd agree with KC. I think Specter is a better example for you. On that, I think I would care less. Collins (and Snowe) are different. They have no homefront flanks to worry about -- they represent liberal constituencies. And they can help legitimize (or de-legitimize) narratives and norms.

The very fact that Collins (from Maine) felt the need to posture shows that we need to keep pushing on the political center of gravity

but it's a fair point you raise

You're right, d'd'd'dave: nobody has to justify NOT spending billions. So I propose NOT SPENDING about half next year's Pentagon budget. You with me?

Evie, your point would be a lot stronger if Collins's cuts had made the bill palatable to just one Republican Senator besides herself, Snowe and Specter.

--TP

I didn't want to wade through the last thread, but I wanted to ask people why they care that flu prevention isn't stimulus, accepting for the sake of argument that it isn't. The relevant question is whether or not it's a good idea. If it's a good idea, what does it matter what bill it's in?

MY had a pretty good take on the "centrism" of the Senate:

"But the key legislative players aren’t reasonable, moderate people they’re “reasonable” “Senate moderates.” A “Senate moderate” is someone who takes his party’s proposals, objects to them, waters them down a bit, and then congratulates himself on a job well done. Which is great if his party’s proposals are unduly immoderate. But it’s big-time trouble if his party puts a reasonable, moderate agenda on the table.

After all, you don’t maintain the painstakingly achieved Nelson/Bayh “Senate moderate” brand by clapping politely. You need to bitch and moan and be quoted in inside-baseball only media outlets that none of your constituents pay attention to, and hold conferences and have meetings at the White House where people hold your hands. You need to be praised by the opposition party, and extract your pound of flesh from the proposal. Then when it looks like it might go down to defeat, you can vote for the somewhat-watered-down version and be the hero who saved the day and nobody will mention that you saved the day from yourself."

You know the Republican centrists were itching to get a piece of that stimulus-reducing action.

http://yglesias.thinkprogress.org/archives/2009/03/are_obamas_budget_proposals_too_reasonable.php

//So I propose NOT SPENDING about half next year's Pentagon budget. You with me?//

Yes. And I have said so many times before.

Evie, your point would be a lot stronger if Collins's cuts had made the bill palatable to just one Republican Senator besides herself, Snowe and Specter.

I agree. It would be unfair to criticize Collins had she been acting as a legitimate go-between: trying to get some concessions in order to attract some reasonable number of Republican votes.

But she wasn't. She just saw an opportunity to take center stage and grabbed it. I don't know about Specter, but my impression at the time was that Snowe had no major problems with the bill that required Collins' activities.

The proof of Collins' grandstanding and fetishization of what money comes from where is the fact that she voted for anti-flu pandemic funding in a war appropriations bill in 2007:

"Other domestic beneficiaries include state HIV grant programs, mine safety research, youth violence prevention activities, and pandemic flu protection."

It's obvious how closely linked those spending needs were to the conduct of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars too.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/05/24/AR2007052402570.html

http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=110&session=1&vote=00181

So, to review: Anti-pandemic funding embedded in a stimulus bill: bad. Anti-pandemic funding attached to a war-funding bill: good. Only those who hail from HighBroderLand have the vision, the clarity of thought, indeed the genius, to understand such wisdom.

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