President Obama’s speech on national television was a declaration of his intention to use his top-heavy majorities in both houses of Congress to ram his program through. Despite lip service to bipartisan government, he indicated that his basic approach is: My way or the highway.
How will Republicans react? If they permit themselves to be intimidated out of a filibuster by Obama’s efforts to summon massive public momentum, they will never again be relevant to America’s politics during the next two years. If they let themselves be bought off individually for small concessions, like the homebuyer tax credit, they will squander whatever power their 41 seats gives them.
It lies squarely in the province of the Republican Party to act together, to use the filibuster, and to force Obama to govern in a real bipartisan way and to stop him from jamming through his program.
Public opinion has moved steadily against the stimulus package and will continue to move that way. Americans do not believe that spending can cure the recession but do believe tax cuts can do so. Republicans must take a stand on their convictions and not cave in, singly or collectively.