Specter Defects — Obama Gains

Longtime Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania defected from the Republican party this week and took up ranks as the 60th Democrat in what will soon be a filibuster-proof super-majority in the Senate.  (Al Franken’s victory in the Minnesota Senate recount has been confirmed by a Minnesota court, although he may not take office until Republican appeals are settled).

Specter’s statement about the momentous change said,

“Since my election in 1980, as part of the Reagan Big Tent, the Republican Party has moved far to the right. Last year, more than 200,000 Republicans in Pennsylvania changed their registration to become Democrats. . . . I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans.”

The move serves Specter’s reelection prospects as the Republican party and electorate turned against him after he broke ranks and supported President Obama’s stimulus legislation in February.  Specter will run as a Democrat in 2010 and can now expect President Obama’s, and the Democratic party’s, support. 

Specter has been a respected centrist with a pragmatic approach not far from the President’s.  His announcement is a stunning victory for President Obama’s leadership at the 100-day mark

Senator Olympia Snowe, another moderate Republican who broke ranks to support the President’s stimulus legislation bemoaned the narrow focus of the current Republican party in a New York Times op-ed, “In my view, the political environment that has made it inhospitable for a moderate Republican in Pennsylvania is a microcosm of a deeper, more pervasive problem that places our party in jeopardy nationwide.”

The Democratic President had already taken authoritative command.  Increased transparency, improved ethics, a new vision of foreign policy leadership by multilateral coalition building and negotiation, financial support for education, health care, and clean energy, and outlines of a legislative agenda fell in to place without incident during the first 100 days.

The President was harshly criticized for deficit spending, but the deep economic downturn he inherited upon inauguration has led most leading economists to agree that government intervention is warranted and that in the face of an unusually steep drop in economic activity, deficits spending was less of a risk than the depression which might otherwise result and which the deficit spending aimed to avert. 

As the President moves from the honeymoon period to the heart of his legislative agenda it will be a huge benefit to have Specter among the ranks of Democrats.  The President intends to move forward on health care reform this year and his administration and congressional leaders are also hard at work on financial regulations and energy policy.  Mr. Obama will still have to coral Democrats to reach agreement, and as in the budget and stimulus legislation, compromises will occur.  But with 60 Democrats in the Senate, and an overwhelming majority in the House, the President will not need Republican approval or support.  He will very likely seek it, in the spirit of consensus building and bi-partisanship, but the ball will be in his court.



Jaime J.
Jaime J.7 years ago

And the coffee on both sides of the political spectrum right now is VERY bitter. What motivation would anyone have to join either side?

Jaime J.
Jaime J.7 years ago

And I disagree with the "greed" theory. If it were not for the desires of other's to succeed in business, none of us would ever prosper. A friend of mine bought a failing construction company; and after diligent work and years of effort, he brought that company out of the dirt and into a multi-million dollar a year company. True, he has had to pay taxes at a higher rate, but not nearly to the rate that the left is advocating. He is motivated to continue to prosper in his business as long as his income tax rate is not “pie in the sky”. And, he will continue to pay more revenue because of his increased income potential than if he were taxed at an even higher rate. I find it wrong to punish my friend even more for giving so many people jobs, stimulating the economy such as he has, and continuing to pay the government a fairly high revenue.

Jaime J.
Jaime J.7 years ago

Meredith, thank you for the answer, but I still do not have my curiosity satisfied. I am also a teacher….it is great work. But, I have also studied economics and have realized that what the current administration offers by way of economical theory is very detrimental. George W. Bush also did a horrible job managing the economy. Your theory of “the rich only get richer” doesn’t hold water when you look throughout history at how previous administrations have handled the marginal income tax. What is the idea of the left anyway? To tax the wealthier at much higher rate than the remaining populace? How does this benefit you? The wealthy are now paying 40-50% or even more while your income tax is reduced? Guess what? The government revenue in a scenario like that goes down, not up. What motivation do I have to be in an upper tax bracket? None. I will just settle with a lower income, lower tax rate, and therefore benefit more. The problem with this leftist theory is long term it decreases the revenue a government receives; and therefore, lower marginal tax rates increase to account for the loss (or in the case of Hoover, increases the duration of a depression). No, this is not the answer. Why can’t you allow people to make money? Why is it you have to limit them because you have chosen to another profession? Supply-side economics just makes sense long term, and most economists would agree.

Meredith D.
Meredith D.7 years ago

Let me satisfy your "curiosity." Read the article. Like the article said, Specter said he moved left because his constituents did, and his job is to represent them. Not to mention, with the way Dubya messed up our country, people are ready to give the democrats a chance. And really..do you see normal people making it big, or do you see the rich getting richer? Also, not being wealthy doesn't mean you don't have intelligence. I'm a magna cum laude graduate, got great SAT scores and everything, but I work as a teacher because I think it's important work. Some of us just aren't greedy enough to get rich. Has nothing to do with intelligence; has a lot to do with greed.

Pam Rhia S.
.7 years ago

At least this shows that a FEW Republicans are FED UP with the way things are going in their party. I wondered how long it would take some of them to wake up and smell the coffee.
Hopefully Specter is not the only one.

Jaime J.
Jaime J.7 years ago

I just have a VERY basic question. Why would someone move to the left? Really, I just don't get it. Are people moving that way because they think everyone else is (bandwagon). Or, maybe they really can't stand their work and hope that someone else will take care of them. Or, maybe it's because they are so jealous that someone else actually had the intelligence and means of becoming wealthy. Really, I am not being antagonistic here, I am just curious.

Lindsey O.
.7 years ago

I'm disappointed at the defection of any Republican. While I don't like either party, at least when there is a reasonable balance neither can do as much damage as they can when an overwhelming majority is attained.

And, Robert - I'm not going to bother flagging your comment since I'm sure others have already done it. I didn't want Obama in office, didn't vote for him, and don't like the majority of his policies. But, aside from the fact that he is our President and therefore entitled to the respect his office commands, "Osambo" is a dreadful racial slur. Highly appropriate for a KKK forum - but not here. Or anywhere people with a shred of decency exist.

Lisa C.
Lisa C.7 years ago

I'll be impressed after I see how he votes. So far, his track record is dismal. What is needed to pass legislation is a majority--it doesn't matter what label they come in with. There are several existing dems who cannot be counted on to vote with the party--those old school, keep the status quo, good ole boys. I consider them republican infiltraitors. So what if Specter is one more of em.

I feel that one should not ask not whether they're democrats or republicans, but ask what the hell they did with our money!

Daniel Lovejoy
Daniel Lovejoy7 years ago

Why does anyone assume that politicians have your best interest at heart? All are self serving, and if it just so happens to benefit you, well that's ok.
If you get past the rhetoric that spews from a politicians mouth they all say essentially the same thing, regardless of political offiliation.

Charles Temm JR
Charles Temm JR7 years ago

Specter is and has been a political opportunist. Once he was Dem, then Repub when they could do more for him. He knew he was to loose his party's primary so he jumped ship.

But he has been a squishy Repub for some time and will not likely change that much for the Dems. On the surface it looks good politically for the Dems in the numbers game but he has already voted against Obama's budget plans. I think he will remain a unpredictable factor for both sides.

Down side for the Dems is even more simple. You guys own everything now. Moderate/conservative Dems were nervous before and now they are really going to be scared. 2010 is around the corner and their districts were bare victories for many of them. Public anger in those same districts is obvious and those Dems (at least some of them) are going to pay the price for one party rule. Both of the last times we had one party rule, people reacted violently-I don't see this time being any different.