Wednesday, January 21, 2009

TARP Trends

With its first notable post-Inauguration vote, the new Congress is indicating that, even if all those platitutudes heralding a new post-partisan and/or post-racial Era of Good Feelings should indeed dawn on us, ushered in by the new Administration, sectional rifts will still sometimes rend both parties.

A quick look at the break down of Members who crossed the aisle over today’s House vote amending the TARP econ bailout plan points to a more identifiable regional trend animating the votes of GOP rebels than the Dems who opposed their leadership. Although The Hill describes the vote as “largely symbolic” and the title of the WaPo article notes the bill includes “Strict New Requirements on Use of Bailout Funds,” this vote can be considered one of the Obama Administration’s first tests in Congress

Given that the House Democrats’ swelled ranks have brought in a caucus that is more diverse in age, ideology, region and in intesity of the loyalty each feels to various elements of the victorious Democratic majority of 2008 (to name a few), more splits seem likely on roll call votes, esp. should Obama’s honeymoon with Congressional Democrats prove to be abbreviated.

But on this early vote, the atrophied Republican rump in the House looks like it feels more confident in opposing their leadership now that Tom DeLay’s old mantra of keeping a Republican majority at any cost is a moot point.

Of the 18 Republicans voting “aye,” 11 hail from Rust Belt states hit hard by the economic downturn and who might expect constituents to benefit from bailout funds. (This group includes seven from Michigan alone, include the traditionally conservative Rep. Peter Hoekstra, from the state’s Dutch-settled southwest. Hoekstra was joined in this group by social conservative fire breather and Speaker Gingrich failed coup plotter Rep. Mark Souder, from a hard-pressed Fort Wayne-based northwestern Indiana district.):

Camp (MI)
Ehlers (MI)
Hoekstra (MI)
LaTourette (OH)
McCotter (MI)
Miller (MI)
Rogers (MI)
Schock (IL)
Souder (IN)
Turner (OH)
Upton (MI)

Reps. Lance of New Jersey and Castle of Delaware might be lumped in here too, hailing from industrial states.

Among other GOP rebels:

Rep. Dave Reichert, also, represents Washington state, home of heavy Boeing layoffs.

Rep. John Campbell, who’s made a name for himself as a spending hawk, hails from a far Southern California CD home to possibly ailing aerospace firms.

The last three rebels hail from Florida, including the brother duo of Reps. Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart. Interestingly, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, their Cuban-American Republican cohort who usually votes with them, stayed loyal on this vote, though Rep. Vern Buchanan of a demographically shifting Sarasota-based CD joined them.

Democratic apostates include a few Southern Democrats from Old South CDs who frequently defy their leadership: Reps. Shuler and McIntyre of North Carolina, Rep. Marshall of Georgia, Rep. Gene Taylor of Mississippi and freshman Rep. Bobby Bright of Montgomery, Alabama, whom is voting more with the GOP already despite their failure to recruit him as a candidate this cycle.

Other potential trends at work here:

Western freshman from districts that have boomed in recent years: Reps. Walt Minnick of Idaho and Ann Kirkpatrick of rural Arizona.

The other two rebels hail from Hillary-heavy voting and hurting Pennsylvania CDs – Reps. Jason Altmire and Tim Holden – who may think the package isn’t generous enough.

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