Mickey Kaus examines the public's distaste for welfare programs. He says voters:
didn't trust old style liberals not to spend in actively destructive ways, like subsidizing an isolated underclass of non-working single mothers with a no-strings cash dole. It's a 75-25 values issue. Work yes. Welfare no.
He and asks whether the stimulus bill hasn't given the Republicans an enormous political opening:
Welfare is a liberal sore spot that, if Republicans play it right, could become a bleeding open wound for the administration. Voters probably thought they'd settled the dole-vs.-work issue back in 1996. Obama will be fulfilling the crude GOP stereotype of his party if he even waffles on reopening it.
Remember that Newt Gingrch rode the welfare issue to power after haranguing about "the liberal welfare state" for a few election cycles. The new welfare debate, if it happens, won't necessarily be that prolonged. The main question is whether the Administration can effectively paper over the meaning of what's in the stimulus. If not, Congress is still in session. It seems to me there is a real chance for Republicans to get it to "revisit" that part of the bill, as they say in Washington. Obama may decide he needs to excise the most poisonous part of the stimulus to save the rest of his New New Deal.