The most expensive social experiment in American history — one that will cost taxpayers more than both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined — was allotted less than a single day of debate in Congress.The Anchoress:
We’ve watched the press pretend to beat their breasts for “not asking the tough questions of Bush” in the time leading up to the invasion of Iraq... Now, we’re watching the press show zero curiosity about this “stimulus” package. They don’t appear to even know what is in it, or want to know.Associated Press:
$650 million for TV converter boxes.Art Brodsky:
Obama knows he can't trust the Republicans. Their idea of bipartisanship is someone going along with their bad ideas, like privatizing Social Security or giving tax cuts to the rich. Any resistance is attacked as playing politics, or partisan behavior. Obama can't even trust the Blue Dogs, some of whom owe their seats to Rahm Emanuel, Obama's chief of staff who recruited them when heading up the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.Peggy Noonan:
New York Times:
Consider the moment. House Republicans had conceded that dramatic action was needed and had grown utterly supportive of the idea of federal jobs creation on a large scale. All that was needed was a sober, seriously focused piece of legislation that honestly tried to meet the need, one that everyone could tinker with a little and claim as their own. Instead, as Rep. Mike Pence is reported to have said to the president, "Know that we're praying for you. . . . But know that there has been no negotiation [with Republicans] on the bill—we had absolutely no say."
At a strategy session on Thursday with Mr. Obama’s top economic adviser, Lawrence H. Summers, Democrats and the White House agreed to allow full-throated debate on the stimulus in the Senate rather than try to jam the bill through with a small margin of victory.Kimberley A. Strassel:
Under "stimulus," Medicaid is now on offer not to just poor Americans, but Americans who have lost their jobs. And not just Americans who have lost their jobs, but their spouses and their children. And not Americans who recently lost their jobs, but those who lost jobs, say, early last year. And not just Americans who already lost their jobs, but those who will lose their jobs up to 2011. The federal government is graciously footing the whole bill. The legislation also forbids states to apply income tests in most cases.Paul Krugman:
It’s true that the cost of universal health care will be a continuing expense, reaching far into the future. But that has always been true, and Mr. Obama has always claimed that his health care plan was affordable. The temporary expenses of his stimulus plan shouldn’t change that calculation.David Brooks:
In a fateful decision, Democratic leaders merged the temporary stimulus measure with their permanent domestic agenda — including big increases for Pell Grants, alternative energy subsidies and health and entitlement spending.Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE):
You don't want to be against Pell Grants. But the question is, how many people go to work on Pell Grants? Should it be in this legislation if it's about jobs?David Brooks:
It’s easy to see why Democrats decided to do this. They could rush through permanent policies they believe in. Plus, they could pay for them with borrowed money. By putting a little of everything in the stimulus package, they avoid the pay-as-you-go rules that might otherwise apply to recurring costs.White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel:
You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.Peggy Noonan:
That's how the Democratic establishment in the House looks, not like people who are responding to a crisis, or even like people who are ignoring a crisis, but people who are using a crisis. Our hopeful, compelling new president shouldn't have gone with this bill. He made news this week by going to the House to meet with Republicans. He could have made history by listening to them.President Barack Obama:
Old habits die hard.Associated Press:
$870 million to combat the flu.Eleanor Clift:
Have the Republicans no shame? After swarming around President Obama like adolescent girls swooning over the Jonas brothers, getting their picture taken with him and accepting his invitation to a White House cocktail party, every Republican in the House still voted like Rush Limbaugh instructed them to—registering a big fat "no" on Obama's stimulus plan. It was their way to signal solidarity with the GOP base and its talk-show mouthpieces. But stiffing a popular president in the middle of an economic crisis risks further marginalizing a party already on the ropes.Ramesh Ponnuru:
I'm not quite sure why so many liberals are spluttering with rage over the Republicans' failure to go along with their stimulus ideas. It's not as though Republicans kept it from passing the House, or can keep it from passing the Senate. And if opposition is as politically suicidal as a lot of liberals are also saying—see the Toles cartoon today—it seems like it's a win-win situation for liberals.Rasmussen Reports:
Forty-two percent (42%) of the nation’s likely voters now support the president’s plan, roughly one-third of which is tax cuts with the rest new government spending. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 39% are opposed to it and 19% are undecided. Liberal voters overwhelmingly support the plan while conservatives are strongly opposed.Art Brodsky:
The Blue Dogs also will have to watch themselves as Obama's policies become more popular and they strive to keep their distance, even while campaigning on his popularity in 2010 in some of those states that went for the president last year.David Harsanyi:
The public's support for the plan is down 3 points in a week — and this, without even having any time to chew on the specifics.Lawrence Kudlow:
And in what may prove to be the biggest stimulus-package hurdle of all, news reports suggest that Team Obama is contemplating as much as $2 trillion in TARP additions to rescue the banking system in one form or another. That would be $2 trillion on top of the nearly $1 trillion stimulus package.The Daily Beast:
Emanuel, working with his old boss and ally, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, made it easy for the Republicans to resist. Every penny in the more than 600-page bill came from a Democratic wish list of pork that dated back to the beginning of the Bush administration. "They were limited the last two years by the White House keeping firm on the cap for each bill," a congressional source reported to me, "and Nancy Pelosi told them all to send their ideas to David Obey [chairman of the House Appropriations Committee], and he just put them together in one great big earmark."Lawrence Kudlow:
Government spending, deficits, and debt creation of this magnitude is simply unheard of. So the added TARP money will surely imperil the entire stimulus package as taxpayers around the country begin to digest the enormity of these proposed government actions. Financing of this type would not only destroy the U.S. fiscal position for years to come, it could destroy the dollar in the process. What's more, the likelihood of massive tax increases -- which at some point will become front and center in this gargantuan funding operation -- would doom the economy for decades.Senator Richard Durbin (D.-IL):
For those Republicans who voted against it, their alternative is what?The Daily Beast:
“We gave the president what he asked for, a temporary stimulus bill,” said a senior Republican, “at half the cost of what the Democrats wrote. He knows it. They handed him a monster of spending. Rahm did this, and now he takes this to the Senate. Does Rahm want to be an honest broker, or does he want to be the guy who socks Republicans in the face? He isn’t helping with the Democrats, and he’s hurting with the Republicans.”David Harsanyi:
Don't ask questions. And if you do, be prepared for an answer so painfully juvenile that it can be boiled down to this: "Doing something is better than nothing."Senator Richard Durbin (D.- IL):
We can’t stand back and do nothing.Yellow Limes:
$75 million for smoking cessation programs.The Daily Telegraph:
The EU trade commissioner vowed to fight back after the bill passed in the House of Representatives late on Wednesday included a ban on most purchases of foreign steel and iron used in infrastructure projects.Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH):
We must ensure that federal funds are used to buy American products and to help promote manufacturing in our country. Ultimately I want taxpayers to know where their dollars are being spent. Are they being spent on American products or products coming from Germany or Mexico?The Daily Telegraph:
The Senate's version of the legislation, which will be debated early next week, goes even further, requiring that any projects related to the stimulus use only American-made equipment and goods.Bill Lane, Government Affairs Director for Caterpillar:
We are the first to recognise that if the US embraces Buy American then the whole notion of buying national will metastasize and limit our ability to take part in overseas projects.Ralph Goodale:
We are students of history. A major reason a very deep recession turned into the Great Depression was the fact that countries turned inward.
U.S. protectionism is about to make Canada’s recession a lot worse.White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs:
[The administration] will review that particular provision.Mitchell Blatt:
Of the $900 billion bill, $30 billion will be used for highway projects and $10 billion will be used for other types of transportation infrastructure.The Daily Beast:
By contrast, $87 billion will be spent on Medicaid.
Even Obama’s Administration knows it’s not going to stimulate the economy.
Emanuel’s answer to the Republican shutout is to announce that the Democratic Party will target Republicans by running campaigns in their districts to tell the voters that their representative “voted against 4 million jobs.”Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE):
I don't even know how many Democrats will vote for it, as it stands today.Washington Post:
President Obama yesterday scolded Wall Street bankers who received millions of dollars in bonuses last year, calling the payouts "shameful" and chiding the executives for a lack of personal responsibility at a precarious time for the nation's economy.Financial Times:
Mr. Obama described the bonuses as the “height of irresponsibility”, and made clear that additional government support for the industry would be subject to tough conditions on pay and other perks.Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO):
[Wall Street is] a bunch of idiots.Patterico's Pontifications:
But it’s cool for Obama to celebrate the passage of a trillion-dollar stimulus package with a celebration that includes wagyu steak.Think Progress:
What’s that, you ask? I don’t know either, but it apparently cost $100 for a 16-ounce steak . . . in 2004.
Earlier today, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) said he is “undecided” on whether to support President Obama’s recovery plan. Another “undecided” Democratic senator is Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND). “I’d have a very hard time voting for what came over from the House,” he said today on Fox News...President Barack Obama:
I will watch you on Fox News and feel bad about myself.Associated Press:
$40 million to convert the way health statistics are collected.Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi:
I didn’t come here to be partisan. I didn’t come here to be bipartisan. I came here, as did my colleagues, to be nonpartisan, to work for the American people, to do what is in their interest.Mark Steyn:
The rules in this new "post-partisan" era are pretty simple: If the Democratic Party wants it, it's "stimulus." If the Republican Party opposes it, it's "politics" – as in headlines like this: "Obama Urges GOP To Keep Politics To A Minimum On Stimulus." These are serious times: As the president says, it's the worst economic crisis since the Thirties. So politicians need to put politics behind them and immediately lavish $4.19 billion on his community-organizing pals at the highly inventive "voter registration" group ACORN for "neighborhood stabilization activities."Associated Press:
Defenders of the package said that once experts determined it would take $800 billion to start to pull the country out of recession and emphasized the urgency, details took on less importance.Martin Feldstein:
"If the house is burning, you're not going to worry about which hose you grab, so long as you get water on the fire," said Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., one of the chief authors of the House package as chairman of its appropriations committee.
We cannot afford an $800 billion mistake.