We’ve all heard that history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce. But what do you call it when it starts as farce? On Monday, House Republicans gave the president a second chance to redeem himself, but will he take it?
Among many GOP insiders, it is widely believed that President Obama’s biggest mistake in his first term wasn’t ObamaCare but the stimulus. It needlessly set a miserable tone for his presidency. Back then, Obama had roughly 70% approval ratings and most Republicans, like all Democrats, believed the government needed to take action to deal with the financial crisis. But rather than work with Republicans, Obama colluded with Democratic leaders in the House and Senate to propose a stimulus Republicans had no authorship of and no confidence in.
Worse, the stimulus wasn’t very stimulating. Rather than suspend payroll taxes, or just spend it all on infrastructure improvements, or some other relatively bipartisan and Keynesian approach, much of it was aimed at bailing out state governments (and municipal unions) and subsidizing losers in the green-energy sector. Obviously, the stimulus has its defenders, but for Republicans the stimulus represented every kind of hypocrisy, arrogance and folly.