The GOP puts its money down

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by Jeff Fecke • The stimulus plan passed the House of Representatives last night by a comfortable margin, 244-188. Eleven Democrats broke with their party to oppose the measure. No Republicans voted for it.

Jeff Fecke is a freelance writer who lives in Eagan, Minnesota.In addition to his own blog, Blog of the Moderate Left, he also contributes to Alas, a Blog, Minnesota Campaign Report, and AlterNet. Fecke has appeared as a guest on the “Today” show, the Alan Colmes radio show, and the Mark Heaney Show. Fecke is divorced, and the father of one really terrific daughter. His debut novel, The Valkyrie’s Tale, is now available.

This calls for a metaphor.

One of my favorite casino games is craps; oh, it’s risky and you can get yourself into trouble it you stay at a cold table too long. But a hot table? That’s fun — because most people at the table are betting on the same thing at the same time.

In craps, the most popular bets are the “Pass” and “Come” bets, which essentially are bets that you’ll roll the same number twice before you crap out. Since most people are betting the same thing, everyone gathered around the table is cheering for the shooter to roll a six before she rolls a seven. And when she hits that six, there is much high-fiving and cheering.

But there’s always one guy in the corner of the table betting the “Don’t Pass” and “Don’t Come” line. Statistically, it’s the same bet, and pays the same. But still, nobody likes him. He’s betting that the point won’t come around again before the shooter craps out. He’s betting against everyone at the table. He’s hoping everyone else around the table fails, so that he can profit.

Last night, the Republican Party put all its chips on the “Don’t Pass” line. They’re hoping — indeed, gambling their futures — that the national economy is going to fail. They’re betting that the stimulus package will not help pull us out of the nosedive our economy is in. They win if the economy tanks, if everyone else around the table walks away poorer.

Mark Halperin aside, it’s pretty obvious to most people that the President worked hard to gain Republican support. He added a number of tax cuts to the bill, cut out reproductive health care and work on the National Mall when Republicans objected. He took a step their way, and reached out a hand, and they slapped it aside, because they don’t want to be in it together. They don’t want to be on the same side as everyone else at the table. Because if everyone prospers, the Republicans, relatively, don’t improve their positions.

And so the Republicans in the House have placed their bet: against Americans, for themselves. Like the guy betting “Don’t Pass,” they may win in the end. But if the table gets hot, the rest of us will win together — and the Republicans will find themselves out of money, out of hope, and out of power for a long, long time.

Originally published 1/29/09

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