There are a lot of people lining up for stimulus dollars, a lot of ambitious and long-dormant projects being dusted off by governors and mayors across the country.

But there’s another group of opportunists taking advantage of the debate. I’m talking about the G.O.P. who are stonewalling and stalling in the name of prudent spending. At least that’s what they’d like us to think. They’re going through the proposed bill line by line and collectively decrying as wasteful almost everything in it.

I suspect something else is behind the political theater.

It’s possible the Republicans think they have nothing to lose by delaying or even derailing the President’s plan. It’s reasonable for them to believe they won’t be blamed if the final plan they approve ultimately fails to fix the economy. If it fails, the Republicans can be pretty sure that the president and not congress will bear the blame. Likewise if it succeeds, he will get most of the credit. Congress will share very little of either.

I’m not sure I’m so cynical as to suspect the Republicans of trying to engineer a failure, but looking at it as a purely political opportunity, they have much more to gain from failure than they do from success.

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