As we all know, Biden’s $1.9 trillion rescue plan has consistently polled much better than that and, if anything, its provisions have grown in popularity the more people learn about it. There’s also all sorts of reasons to believe Biden’s plan will maintain its popularity over time as direct payments hit people’s bank accounts, parents with kids continue receiving monthly payments of several hundred dollars, unemployment money continues flowing, and people who weren’t able to afford health insurance coverage during a pandemic become eligible for government help either through subsidies or 100% COBRA coverage.
Those are all reasons why the GOP’s hopes and prayers that Biden’s rescue package will track like Obama’s 2009 stimulus plan aren’t going to come true. But there are other reasons for Republicans’ Obama-era nostalgia.
Chief among them, frankly, is that Biden’s whiteness doesn’t whip up the racist fervor of the GOP base. Remember all those signs and T-shirts at Tea Party rallies featuring pictures of Obama with a Hitler-esque mustache? Merch sellers tried to rerun that profit play at the Conservative Political Action Conference a couple weeks ago and fell flat on their faces.
“I can’t give the Biden stuff away,” David Solomon, a “MAGA” merchandise seller, told The Washington Post of his shirt designs with Biden in a Hitler-style mustache and the message “Not My Dictator.”
And speaking of the Tea Party, remember all that sky-is-falling talk over the deficit and national debt? Yeah, that line of attack has been blown to smithereens too after Donald Trump spent four years telling his base deficits didn’t matter, and Republicans gladly passed many trillions of dollars’ worth of tax cuts, budget-busting spending bills, and pandemic-related relief. When all was said and done, Trump had grown the national debt by nearly $7.8 trillion. “The growth in the annual deficit under Trump ranks as the third-biggest increase, relative to the size of the economy, of any U.S. presidential administration,” wrote the Post. Only George W. Bush and Abraham Lincoln presided over greater deficit increases, partially due to paying for war-time costs.
As Anthony McGill, a self-described conservative Republican in rural Maine, recently told The New York Times, “The debt is so far out of hand that it’s a fantasy number at this point … We might as well just blow it out till everything collapses.”
The GOP’s supposed anger over Biden’s lack of bipartisanship is also a loser. Not only did Republicans ram their tax cut for the rich through on a party-line vote, they didn’t even unveil the monstrosity until hours before final passage.
Multiple polls now have shown voters are yawning in the face of Republicans’ duplicitous whining about bipartisanship. And perhaps even more importantly, 57% of Americans think Biden made a good faith effort to work with Republicans on his wildly popular plan while just 42% believe GOP lawmakers made a good faith effort to work with the White House, according to Pew.
Taking all these elements together, it’s almost like that ’09 playbook is completely useless a decade later after Republicans changed all the rules and Democrats fielded an entirely different team. But if you’re a Republican, man, those were the days!