The top congressional leaders from both parties gathered at the White House for a working discussion over the shape and size of President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus plan. The meeting was designed to promote bipartisanship.
But Obama showed that in an ideological debate, he’s not averse to using a jab.
Challenged by one Republican senator over the contents of the package, the new president, according to participants, replied: “I won.”
The statement was prompted by Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl of Arizona , who challenged the president and the Democratic leaders over the balance between the package’s spending and tax cuts, bringing up the traditional Republican notion that a tax credit for people who do not earn enough to pay income taxes is not a tax cut but a government check.
Obama noted that such workers pay Social Security and Medicare taxes, property taxes and sales taxes. The issue was widely debated during the presidential campaign, when Sen. John McCain, the Republican nominee, challenged Obama’s tax plan as “welfare.”
With those two words — “I won” — the Democratic president let the Republicans know that debate has been put to rest Nov. 4 .
If there’s one thing that absolutely, positively infuriates me about this country, it’s the practice of inviting people in for meetings when you have absolutely, positively no intention of listening to them, or really care about their opinion. But people here have to go through the motions of showing how “inclusive” and “open” they are. It’s part of the theatre, and it not only wastes everybody’s time, it’s insulting.
The reality, of course, is that Barack Obama is keeping the Republicans in his back pocket in case the Congressional Democrats don’t go along with his program. But jabs like this will make that more difficult when the time comes. It would have been more honest to proclaim that “we won” to start with, ignored the rest of the country, and went on until “we” reached an impasse.
Which “we” will do sooner or later.