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The Loyal Opposition

8:03 AM, Jan 29, 2009 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
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Be prepared for the inevitable backlash to the House GOP's unanimous rejection of the stimulus package. Goldfarb has already noted the Huffington Post's response. A savvy observer writes this morning that the vote may turn the GOP into the "party of no" when "hard-working, God-fearing families are losing their health insurance and watching dreams of college disappear."

Not quite. Yes, economic circumstances are dire. But the Democrats are using those circumstances to force through a bill that will do relatively little to stimulate the economy and a lot to stimulate liberalism. It's entirely appropriate for Republicans to criticize this bill and, ultimately, vote against it. And as long as they criticize constructively, as long as they put forward a reasonable alternative - as long as they do not obstruct a popular president - Republicans will do themselves little harm. Especially if the bill doesn't work. Which is a strong possibility.

So far, to my knowledge, the Republican leadership has criticized President Obama's bill politely. They wish him success, which is appropriate, but they also point out the flaws in his ideas. What's wrong with that? Meanwhile, there is a Republican alternative plan -- and, though it's pretty unoriginal and needs revision, at least it exists. All the House Republicans did last night was register their opposition to the stimulus. They didn't hold it up. Senate Republicans may be tempted to filibuster the bill when it reaches their chamber. That would be a bad idea. It would turn the tables and allow the Democrats to scapegoat the Senate GOP. Instead, if the bill isn't significantly revised, Sen. McConnell should aim to replicate the House's unanimous No vote.

Comity, reason, and no filibusters. Score one for the loyal opposition.