Ronald Reagan used to denounce what he called "welfare queens" who were supposedly living high on the government dime. Now that leading Republican Senators such as Jon Kyl are denouncing the idea of pay curbs for bankers living on the government dole, it's time to introduce a new term--welfare kings. Even as unemployment hits 7.6 percent and shows no signs of slowing any time soon, the GOP is falling over itself to protect the ostentatious privileges and prerogatives of a few financial potentates, while everyone else is supposed to bear the consequences.
Will this do? Will this be the wake-up call that President Obama needs to realize that trying to play kissy-face with the GOP is just going to end up bruising his presidency? Judging by his recent comments, Obama has begun to recognize that he needs to go on the offense in selling his economic plan. He needs, in short, to stimulate support for his stimulus plan.
His task, however, is not to pull the GOP into the 21st century. If Republicans want to pretend that spending isn't necessary and tax cuts are, then they will simply become a relic of the past, a party in name only, as insignificant as the conservatives of the 1930s and 1940s, who portrayed Franklin D. Roosevelt as a traitor to his class, even as he rescued capitalism from the capitalists.
Like FDR, Obama has the opportunity to reshape the American financial system. It's time, then, for Obama to leave Washington and start barnstorming the country. Republicans shouldn't admire Obama. They should fear him.