Well, it passed. After taking out family planning money and ditching bankruptcy reform, plus including significant tax cuts, not a single Republican voted for it. It’s like Democrats are negotiating with themselves. They give things up and get no votes in exchange.
Of course, votes were never needed in the House, anyway. The real question has always been the Senate. While it’s unclear to me that any Republican Senator who would cross lines to vote for the bill was of the theocon wing that believes that contraception and family planning is the devil, perhaps the votes traded were traded in the Senate. One can hope so.
The other possibility is that the real negotiation isn’t with Republicans, but with Blue Dogs. Obama promised Blue Dogs that Pay-Go legislation would come up next in order to get their support. While there are ways to do pay-go which won’t completely destroy the ability to do stimulus in the future (put all the off budget stuff back on the budget, and then draw down out of Iraq fast to free up money) it’s unclear if that’s the intention. The fear has to be that pay-go will mean that after the stimulus, TARP, and the 8 trillion or so that the Fed and the Treasury have spent, loaned and guaranteed, the barn doors are about to be shut hard. What normal people are getting, a few hundred billion, is all they may get. Large programs like universal healthcare could thus be, in effect, off the table.
While I’ve been a deficit hawk for years, doing a stimulus once, then being unwilling to do another one if necessary, is potentially disastrous. It was precisely this mistake which FDR made when he tried to balance the budget in the middle of the Great Depression, undoing many of the employment gains of the New Deal.
I hope Democrats aren’t tying their own hands, and at the same time negotiating with themselves, rather than Republicans. It’s one thing to get Republican votes in exchange for a compromise. It’s another thing to compromise and get nothing in return.