You are here

Specter Switches Parties, Cementing Liberals' Filibuster-Proof Control of Senate

Contradicting earlier claims, Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter has switched to the Democratic Party, cementing the liberals' filibuster-proof majority on most issues in the Senate. What is strange about this is that the reason Specter gave for leaving the Republican Party was not social issues (Specter is socially liberal, not just on things like abortion, but also on racial preferences, which are unpopular with the general public and moderate voters), but rather his vote for the bloated $800 billion stimulus package, which will actually shrink the economy in the long run. It's not as if Obama has ended Bush's lackluster record on the economy. Indeed, he's appointed figures involved in the devastatingly costly Bush bailouts, like Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, who "missed early signs of the crisis," and helped ruin Indonesia's economy, to high posts in his Administration. Now, Obama is busy catering to the United Auto Workers union, at taxpayer expense, in the Detroit auto bailout. As Larry Kudlow notes,
"The government is about to take over GM in a plan that completely screws private bondholders and favors the unions. Get this: The GM bondholders own $27 billion and they’re getting 10 percent of the common stock in an expected exchange. And the UAW owns $10 billion of the bonds and they’re getting 40 percent of the stock. Huh? Did I miss something here? And Uncle Sam will have a controlling share of the stock with something close to 50 percent ownership. And no bankruptcy judge. So this is a political restructuring run by the White House, not a rule-of-law bankruptcy-court reorganization. Meanwhile, top Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett opened the door wide on CNN yesterday to bank nationalization and CEO firings. Unfortunately, my take that the economic stress tests are a political stalking horse for more government ownership, more government control of the banks, and more government disruption of shareholder rights and normal corporate governance looks to be coming true."
Obama has been a profligate big-spender. He claimed his $800 billion stimulus package was needed to avert "irreversible decline." But the Congressional Budget Office concluded before and after its passage that the stimulus package will actually cut the size of the economy in the long run. The stimulus package also guts welfare reform, which Specter voted for in 1996 and has claimed to support. Obama's budgets don't add up, either, piling up $9.3 trillion in red ink, according to the Congressional Budget Office, a staggering $2.3 trillion more than Obama claimed, and more than double the deficits under the Bush baseline. Liberal Republicans are claiming that the Republican Party should be a "big tent" that welcomes big spenders like Specter. But historically, the "big tent" was a concept designed to enable the GOP to compete in socially liberal parts of the country by offering socially-liberal, fiscally-conservative candidates -- not an excuse for supporting big spending (like Obama's) that goes even beyond Bush's record of "fiscal profligacy."