GOLLY, MAYBE NOW THINGS WILL BE TOTALLY DIFFERENT!
Yes, hope that the GOP will finally come to its senses springs eternal. Susan Collins:
Collins told reporters she hoped fellow GOP lawmakers would reconsider when the final compromise comes to a vote "rather than just reflexively oppose this."
She said the negotiators had "tightened and scrubbed it" to eliminate wasteful spending.
Mike Madden of Salon last week (hat tip Steve Benen):
Depending on exactly what's in the final product, Senate Republicans could even learn to love the price. "The bottom line is a problem because of the way it's being spent," one GOP aide said. "If the bottom line creates jobs and gets us out of this economic mess and then generates tax revenue, that's one thing. If it's just spending money on a bunch of crap, it's another." What might determine how many Republicans vote for the bill in the end is what the definition of "a bunch of crap" is. The White House has about two weeks to fight that one out.
And about those House Republicans, the ones who are still crowing about last week's shutout: Many of them may wind up flipping too. "I think [the White House] will go to them a bit, they will come to us a bit, and plenty will flip for the final vote," one Democratic aide said about House Republicans, echoing what some in the GOP have been saying privately, as well. "Many are planning to vote yes on the final vote -- this was basically a free vote for them to side with their leadership for the first round and side with constituents for the second round.
I'm going out on a limb here: Not. Going. To. Happen.
Why on earth would Republicans see reason now? They're giddy with excitement at the base response to their group hissyfit. Ah, you say, but won't their constituents punish them at the polls if they vote against stimulus? Nope. Look, as I've said before, if you're a House Republican and you survived 2006 and 2008 with George W. Bush as a millstone around your neck, your district isn't in America, it's in Wingnuttia -- your constituents are base crazies and they're like the Khmer Rouge; they'd rather break the teachers' glasses and send them to work in the fields than have their kids learn to read because they want to be ideologically pure.
As for the senators, who the hell on the GOP side is truly vulnerable in 2010? Of the 8 Republican seats the Cook Political Report labels "Tossup" or "Leans R," 5 are held by senators (Martinez, Bond, Gregg, Voinovich, Brownback) who aren't seeking reelection. One is held by Specter, the rare 'pub who wins precisely because he goes centrist sometimes; one is held by Bunning, who's crazy. That leaves Vitter, who lives in a state where a huge swath of Democratic voters were killed or exiled by floodwaters a couple of years ago.
Vote for this? And incur the wrath of Limbaugh and Hannity and Malkin and the crazies gathered at the end of the month at CPAC? Incur the wrath of Joe the Plumber?
Maybe a tiny handful of additional Republicans will dare. But no more.