Can Obama Regain Control of Congress’s Stimulus Bill?

The biggest challenge President Barack Obama faces in trying to sell America on his nearly $900 billion stimulus package is that, as it stands, it’s not his. Rather, it is the product of the all-powerful House and Senate committee leaders on Capitol Hill to whom Obama and his team turned over authorship even before the new Administration entered the White House.

Over the course of the transition, when the bill was being drafted, top Obama aides held multiple meetings with committee staffers and their bosses, but in the end, the bill was written on the Hill. “They did a good job of really deferring to Congress,” says one pleased senior Democratic aide involved in the bill’s creation.

Time Magazine

Some, however, aren’t so pleased with the deference the Obama team showed. Apparently responding to public disaffection, a small but growing number of moderate Republican and Democratic Senators are opposing the bill, which they claim has become loaded down with pet projects and spending that have little to do with spurring immediate job creation and economic growth. “Unfortunately, the House-passed bill is much more like an omnibus bill than a stimulus bill,” Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins told reporters on Wednesday after meeting with the President. She asked him to force Democrats to remove things from the stimulus like $780 million for pandemic flu preparation and $14 million for cybersecurity. “The White House would have been better off presenting a bill rather than just outlining priorities.”

But that may not have been an option. For one thing, congressional staffers may be the only people in America with the dubious skill of being able to move nearly a trillion dollars into the national economy in a hurry. And Hill staffers claim that Obama needed the leaders of the various committees to tell him what the bill required to garner enough votes to pass. Either way, the fact that the bill is the product of free-spending congressional committees is likely to hurt Obama. It is defining his first major effort to fix the economy not as a new way of doing business in Washington but as a massive exercise in more of the same.

Martin Feldstein, the conservative economist who has been advising the White House as well as Hill Democrats and Republicans, was an early advocate for the stimulus but turned on the bill the House produced. He says the Senate bill, unveiled on Tuesday, is equally wasteful. “[Obama’s team] turned it over to the congressional staffs,” Feldstein says, and the result is that the bill spends like Congress always spends: with an eye to benefiting regional constituents. The problem, he contends, is that the bill’s goal is to boost overall national spending, which is a very different thing.

Read the rest:

Stimulus: Obama May Need To Make a Deal

Moderates seek bipartisan OK of stimulus package
President Catastrophe: Listen to FDR, JFK
‘Catastrophe’ Obama Is Angry; And We Might Be Too


2 Responses to “Can Obama Regain Control of Congress’s Stimulus Bill?”

  1. Patrick Sperry Says:

    How did that song go?

    “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”

    No solutions, just pork and gerrymandering…

  2. williamschamroth Says:

    With each passing day I am more convinced than ever that I made the right decision to vote for McCain. Obama, is trying to get Republicans and Conservatives on board with his policies. In order to do this he will have to demonstrate a tremendous amount of diplomatic and political skill in order to bring about the necessary compromises. I don’t think he has what it takes. In the couple of weeks that he’s been President, the only thing that he’s demonstrated is his inexperience. He has allowed Nancy Pelosi to ram a stimulus bill through the House which has so much pork in it that it could fill an entire slaughter house. Naturally, not one Republican voted for this bill. This is not an example of bringing the minority party into the Government. The only thing that this proves is that Ms. Pelosi has Obama wraped around her little finger. Now the question is, if Obama can’t even handle the Speaker, who is a member of his own party, how is he going to handle people like Ahmadinejad, Chavez, the Castro brothers and the North Koreans, not to mention Putin and the rest of the Russian mob? The problem is that Obama came up too fast. If he had given himself time to mature, then he wouldn’t do things that give the impression that he can be so easily manipulated.

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