John McCain, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Steele, and other Republicans are shocked, shocked that there are -- shudder -- earmarks in the budget bill that's currently before Congress. And they're shocked, even though (despite their convenient denials) they were neck-deep in the negotiating process and inserted plenty of earmarks of their own. The current G.O.P. meme: the presence of localized spending promises in the federal budget proves Obama's really just another tax-and-spend liberal who, if we're not careful, will nationalize the steel industry. (Or the banks.) And many talking heads are buying into that meme.
How short people's memories are, in this era when nothing longer than 140 characters can stick in our minds. Obama got beat up some in the recovery package -- but He Can Be Taught. When NPR's Mara Liasson asked him what he had learned from that experience back on Feb. 9, he answered:
I mean, I suppose what I could have done is started off with no tax cuts, knowing that I was going to want some and then let them take credit for all of them. And maybe that’s the lesson I learned.
In other words: next time I propose legislation, I'll make sure I include some stuff I can negotiate away so that "compromise" winds up being pretty close to what I wanted in the first place.
So there's some pork in the budget, and Republicans want it out, and if some of it comes out they can take the credit, and then maybe vote for it? Wow! That's sure complex! I'm shocked, shocked that an inexperienced, unelectable naif like Obama could have come up with such a sophisticated political strategy. (/snark)
Or, actually, I'm shocked that Obama ever thought he could get away, in Washington, with doing things any other way, when he started the ball rolling on the recovery bill. And equally shocked that John McCain, a Beltway insider if there ever was one, may actually think something other than good poker is happening now.
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