THE WEEKLY STANDARD
Learn from His Mistakes
Shortly after his inauguration in 2009, President Obama invited Republican leaders in Congress to a White House meeting. The House members brought a proposal with ideas for stimulating the economy, then suffering through the Great Recession. In the meeting, Eric Cantor, then the House minority leader, suggested a small business-related tax cut. A few days later, Obama complained Republicans had decided to oppose his stimulus before he had spoken to their conference. Republicans had a reason. House Democrats had already drafted the bill without consulting them. Every GOP idea had been left out.
This was Obama’s first mistake. At the time, Republicans were ripe for the picking. They had lost both the House and Senate in 2006 and the presidency in 2008. They were terrified. A concession or two—even small ones—would have gone a long way toward gaining their votes. And Republicans would inherit part ownership of the stimulus package. No concessions were offered. Every House Republican voted against the bill, as did all but three in the Senate.
Then came Obamacare and the second mistake. The president and Democrats were in a hurry. They didn’t have the time or the inclination to seek Republican support. Instead, the health care bill was put together, in secret, in the office of then-majority leader Harry Reid. No Republicans were invited to the drafting party and none voted for it. Democrats became sole proprietors of Obamacare.