Obama pressured lawmakers on Wednesday to quickly pass the increasingly unpopular “porkulus” bill by reminding them again, that “he won”:
But after days of absorbing rhetorical attacks, Obama and Senate Democrats mounted a counteroffensive against Republicans who say tax cuts alone can cure the economy.
Obama said the criticisms he has heard “echo the very same failed economic theories that led us into this crisis in the first place, the notion that tax cuts alone will solve all our problems.”
“I reject those theories, and so did the American people when they went to the polls in November and voted resoundingly for change,” said the president, who was elected with an Electoral College landslide last fall and enjoys high public approval ratings at the outset of his term.
In other words, he doesn’t have to listen to Republican objections. It was their “failed economic theories” that got us into this mess to begin with, you see.
Has Obama noticed the dwindling support of the stimulus package? Because in spite of his tough talk, a plurality of people are not impressed.
His (Obama’s) effort is failing. He can’t even get his own party to sign on to the plan. So far, at least, Obama doesn’t appear willing to recognize this. In a CNN interview on Tuesday, Obama was asked what was nonnegotiable in the stimulus bill. His answer, in short, was pretty much everything.
On his list of nonnegotiables: Infrastructure, weatherizing homes, health IT spending, and education spending, investments in science and technology research, health insurance for the unemployed, relief to states, and aid to families.
That’s basically what the House passed last week with zero Republican support, and what the Senate admitted this week that it can’t pass — despite being one vote shy of a filibuster-proof Democratic supermajority and despite the repeated and public urgings of a very popular new president.
“I think, in fairness to the House Democrats . . . if you tally up all of the programs that have been criticized . . . that amounts to less than 1% of the total package,” Obama said.
But clearly, the concerns aren’t about a tiny amount of waste in an otherwise good bill. If that were the case, the fix would be simple.
The fact is it’s Obama’s effort to get much of his domestic agenda enacted under the guise of stimulus that has lawmakers — on both sides — increasingly agitated.
And make no mistake, a significant portion of the stimulus spending comes right out of the agenda Obama announced last summer — long before the need for a massive stimulus bill emerged.
Take the home weatherization program. On CNN Obama argued that this $6 billion program was nonnegotiable because: “First of all, you can employ people weatherizing those homes.”
But Obama announced plans to weatherize a million homes a year last summer. Except back then it was touted as part of a plan to create a “clean energy future” — not as a jobs program.
How about investment in health information technology? In his Blueprint for Change, issued in August, Obama vowed to “Make an upfront investment of $50 billion in electronic health information technology systems to reduce errors, and save lives and money.”
So why is this now a nonnegotiable part of a stimulus package?
Ditto the $1 billion in “Comparative Effectiveness Research” in the stimulus bill. Last year, Obama called that “a comprehensive effort to tackle health care disparities” to cut health care costs.
Transportation spending, education spending, money for science and technology — all were also key parts of Obama’s Blueprint.
To be fair, Obama admits he’s trying to marry short-term stimulus spending with, as he put it, investments that “lay the groundwork for long-term economic growth.”
But it’s a marriage that shouldn’t be saved.
Obama is trying to ram through his domestic agenda under the guise of a stimulus bill, and that’s not how it’s done. They need to scrap it, and start from scratch.
Byron York on Republican Momentum:
On Capitol Hill, you can feel the Republicans’ growing sense of confidence. They’ve scored a lot of hits on the stimulus bill, and now they’re aiming higher. “We’ll try to make the bill better,” Sen. Jim DeMint said a few moments ago, “but this bill is so bad…you can’t fix it by tweaking around the edges…The best thing to happen would be for President Obama to lead, to call a time out.” Several Republicans now want to throw the whole bill out and replace it with a package that is nearly all tax cuts — “twice the jobs at half the price.”
After the Republican news conference, I asked DeMint how many Republican senators oppose the bill — and how many might be won over by a minimum number of changes stripping the bill of its notorious spending provisions, rather than demanding a complete overhaul of the bill. “I think we’ve got nearly 100 percent of Republicans who are going to vote against this bill unless it is fundamentally changed to include real economic stimulus,” DeMint said. “I think just about every Republican has come around to the realization that this is a massive spending bill, it’s a grab bag full of the Democrats’ wish lists, and they’re shamefully using the economic troubles we’re having as a country as an excuse to pass their wish list of spending. I think as that grows on people, it makes them more and more outraged.”
I like it. I also like that conservatives are beating liberals by 100 to 1 in phone calls to the Senate.
Obama, no doubt noticing that the momentum is moving away from support for his “recovery plan”, has written an Oped for the Washington Post.
Nevermind the fact that with the MSM squarely on his side, there’s no need for the POTUS to write his own opeds. Yuvel Levin thinks it’s an odd move on Obama’s part for other reasons, too:
It makes a case for refusing to compromise on the stimulus bill that Obama is clearly about to compromise on, and it makes the argument of his opponents: that the bill is not really emergency legislation to give the economy a short-term boost but an ambitious move to enact a much larger long-term liberal agenda in one fell swoop rather than working through the normal legislative and budget process. Why not wait a day or two for a compromise measure to emerge in the Senate and then make a case for why it’s better than the original bill and how it reflects your bipartisan outreach and whatnot? Instead we have a collection of campaign talking points that don’t make much sense when you’re the guy running the show, and that will make you look weak when you accept a different bill later this month.
Our Country Deserves Better:
Stop the “Stimulus”
News reports indicate there may be an effort to pass the nearly $1 TRILLION pork-laden “stimulus” package TODAY. We’ve got to take immediate action to tell the Senate to VOTE NO on the “stimulus” plan.
The staff of the conservative group, Our Country Deserves Better Committee, has put together a database of phone numbers, fax numbers, and emails for each Senator. See the listing below, contact the two Senators from your state and if you want, work through the rest of the list as well. In terms of effectiveness, phone calls and faxes are most important, followed by emails.
Contact info for your Senators, here.