Stimulus: its all in His hands

“He’s been let down by the Democratic leadership in the House and the Senate,” said NPR host Juan Williams referring to the preident and the stimulus.

“Well, he has the wrong bill,” said Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace.

Barack Obama is going to go back to what he’s good at: he’s going on the campaign trail.

This week, President Obama is going to try to explain what no other living man has made clear to Republicans and about 1/2 of the American people: why this stimulus?

Larry Summers couldn’t do it; failing miserably as a Sunday Talking Head.  Harry Reid?  Zip.  Nancy Pelosi kinda said at first she WAS bipartisan and then seemed to say she didn’t give a damn if she wasn’t.

So El Presidente Himself has to go out to Elkhart, Indiana and Fort Myers, Florida and on a Monday night TV pep talk to the voters to explain why if he gives a bunch of money away all will be well.

You’d think he was trying to take money away, not give money away.

In fact, he is taking money from your children, our children, because somebody will have to pay back all these trillions and if the Congressional Budget Office is to be believed, all this government borrowing will crowd out the kind of investors in America we really want….

So we had better pass the right bill.

The president’s top man on the economy is the president,” said Larry Summers on Fox.

That’s obvious.

This week its a one man show.

Monday He’s off to Elkhart.

John E. Carey
Wakefield Chapel, Virginia

The dome of the US Capitol is seen at dusk in Washington, DC, ...

The dome of the US Capitol is seen at dusk in Washington, DC, in 2008. President Barack Obama’s administration warned Sunday of a fight with Congress to reinstate billions in aid to states as frenzied debate over a mammoth economic stimulus bill neared a climax.(AFP/File/Karen Bleier)


By JIM KUHNHENN, Associated Press Writer

President Barack Obama plunges into a difficult test of his leadership this week, struggling to get a divided Congress to agree on his economic recovery package while pitching a new plan to ease loans to consumers and businesses.

The Senate‘s $827 billion stimulus legislation seems assured narrow passage by Tuesday. Harder work for Obama and the Democrats comes in the days ahead, when the House and Senate attempt to reconcile differences in their two versions.

Obama and Democratic Party leaders had hoped to have a bill ready for the president’s signature by Feb. 16 — a deadline that grows more challenging by the day.

At the Treasury Department, Secretary Timothy Geithner delayed the unveiling of a new bailout framework for financial institutions from Monday to Tuesday to let the administration focus on the Senate legislation.

Geithner is considering steps to broaden the use of a new lending facility at the Federal Reserve, provide government guarantees to help banks deal with their troubled assets, and continue direct infusion of capital into banks in exchange for securities and tougher accountability rules.

For Obama, the economy has become a two-front engagement, with one effort aimed at creating or saving jobs and the other at unfreezing the credit markets. Amid the urgency created by nearly 600,000 new unemployed workers last month and new bank failures, Obama’s economic prescriptions are coming under critical scrutiny by both Congress and the American public.

The House and Senate bills are about $7 billion apart in cost and overlap in numerous ways. But the Senate bill has a greater emphasis on tax cuts, while the House bill devotes more money to states, local governments and schools.

Lawrence Summers, Obama’s top economic adviser, signaled the struggle ahead as he made the rounds of Sunday morning talk shows. “There are crucial areas, support for higher education, that are things that are in the House bill that are very, very important to the president,” he said on ABC.

Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts, the Democratic chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, warned that reductions in state spending in the Senate bill would hurt local communities.

“To get any Republicans at all, you had to adopt a cut that’s going to mean policemen and firemen are going to be laid off,” he said.

Sen. John Ensign of Nevada, a member of the Senate Republican leadership, dismissed Frank’s complaint as “fear-mongering.”

The Senate bill is finely tuned. With only two or three Republicans on board, it is guaranteed, at most, 61 votes; the bill needs 60 votes to advance and avoid procedural hurdles. Any change in the balance struck by the Senate bill could doom it.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a vocal critic of the stimulus bill, complained that Republicans won’t be involved in the final negotiations. “That’s the way the Bush administration, when we Republicans were in charge — that’s the way we did business,” he said. “But I thought we were going to have change.”

Obama will take his case to the American people Monday with his first prime-time news conference. He’ll also participate in town hall-style meetings in cities suffering particularly hard times — Elkhart, Ind., on Monday and Fort Myers, Fla., on Tuesday.

The House and Senate are scheduled to go on recess next week, but congressional leaders have said they will not leave until the bill is completed.

The bank bailout proposal that Geithner will announce Tuesday also carries policy and political risks. Congress approved a $700 billion bailout for the financial sector last fall. But since then, lawmakers from both parties have been critical of how the Bush administration spent the first half of the money.

The Senate grudgingly agreed to give Obama access to the second half of the fund, but only after Obama promised to impose tougher conditions and to devote at least $50 billion of the fund to reducing mortgage foreclosures.

Officials said Geithner will not ask for more money for the program at this point. Instead, his plan is likely to include various approaches to loosening credit and helping banks deal with troubled, mortgage-backed assets.

“We are going to solve it by being as effective and strategic as we possibly can in the use of public money so as to catalyze and spur private investment,” Summers said Sunday. He appeared to be describing one plan under consideration that that would have the government put up seed money to attract private-sector buyers to take on some of the banks’ troubled assets.

Other options, cited by industry and congressional officials:

_Continuing to stress government purchases of bank stock as a way to bolster banks’ balance sheets and try to get them to resume more normal lending. The money would come with more strings attached than in the past. “Institutions that get assistance will have to participate in loan modifications and meet other standards that we set,” Geithner told House Democrats at a party retreat in Williamsburg, Va., on Saturday, according to notes taken by party officials.

_Expanding the use of the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility, a new program the Federal Reserve is developing, beyond supporting consumer loans to other types of lending. The Fed on Friday announced new terms and conditions for the facility and said a starting date would be announced later this month.

Stimulus: Democrats Exhibit Zero Convicing Arguments, Spokesmen

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