[Warning... severe political cynicism follows...]
If I were a Republican congressman today…. I would do just what House Republicans did, and vote against the economic stimulus plan. I would do so because of a cold political calculation that bets on one thing: no matter what happens, or doesn’t happen, this economy is going down the tubes, so the only thing left to do is to engineer who gets the blame. Let’s see how this works logically, with those givens.
The best thing that could happen from the point of view of the minority party is for the package as a whole to pass, with the loyal opposition in lock-step against it, so that when the economy fails, the blame can fall squarely on the Democrats. However:
The worst thing that could happen from the same point of view is for their own opposition to succeed and the package to fail, because then the blame would fall just as surely on the obstructionists who got in the way of the only attempt on the table to do something big, dramatic, and immediately to try to forestall the now even-more-inevitable collapse.
So, there you have it. A policy based on an expectation of failure. Somebody tell me why I’m wrong here.