Rob's post about how the state's congressional delegation voted on today's bailout bill made me wonder about exactly who voted against the bill on the national level. My expectation was that the opposition would have been drawn primarily from the ranks of conservative Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats with a few university town-style liberals thrown in.
In looking at the actual roll call, however, I am struck by just want an odd cast of characters opposed the bill. Republicans, primarily fiscal conservatives, formed the bulk of the opposition, but fewer Blue Dogs voted against the bill than I had expected. Actually, the Blue Dog coalition was fairly split — 25 members voted for the bailout, 22 against (including NC Reps. Mike McIntyre and Heath Shuler). A significant source of opposition proved to be the members of the Congressional Black Caucus. In fact, 21 caucus members appear to have opposed the bill.
People who follow congress more closely than I do may disagree, but I doubt that Reps. Virginia Foxx, Dennis Kucinich and William Jefferson (he of cash in the freezer fame) find themselves on the same side of an issue all that often.
Going forward, the composition of the opposition raises both hopes and concerns. From a half-glass-full perspective, there seems to be an opportunity to, in the words of Paul Krugman, "write a bill that is actually, you know, a good plan, and try to pass it."
From a half-glass-empty perspective, the vote suggests that there exists a sizable number of economically conservative Republicans and Democrats who will balk at any major increases in government spending. This bodes ill not just for responding to the serious problems roiling financial markets, but also for Congress' ability to spend the resources needed to counteract the effects of a deepening recession.