Sanity Injection

Injecting a dose of sanity into your day’s news and current events.

Posts Tagged ‘stimulus bill’

Obamawatch: On the defensive

Posted by sanityinjection on February 4, 2009

This has not been the best week for President Obama. Unfortunately, because his Presidency is less than a month old, that means he hasn’t had a great start so far.

It seems like every time we turn around another Administration nominee has had to withdraw because of tax problems. To his credit, Obama has accepted responsibility for not recognizing the extent of the problem. I thought his comments in this interview with Katie Couric were down-to-earth and humble. It’s hard to imagine President Bush displaying similar candor in admitting a mistake – had he been able to do so, he would have been a better President.

On another front, the stimulus bill, Obama’s first big legislative effort, is running into more problems. The President had wanted to stay mostly out of the debate over the specifics of the bill – at least in public. Now he finds himself having to go on record in support of changes to the bill drafted by his Democrat allies, especially after EU countries howled that incentives in the bill for buying American-made products amount to protectionism and could result in trade retaliation.

So the honeymoon for Obama has been as brief as the love-fest was intense. But every President makes mistakes, especially in the beginning. The question is, will the President learn from these mistakes and rebound, or will he continue to struggle with the realities of trying to lead a divided government through difficult times?

Obama needs to pass the stimulus legislation – he has staked a lot on it. That means compromising with Republicans and conservative Democrats in the Senate who want a smaller bill that is more focused on the areas of the economy that are hurting. Democrats in the Legislature, flush with electoral victory and eager to exercise the power of their new majorities, need to wake up and realize that their quest to fund every government program on the menu by piggybacking it on emergency legislation could be the poison pill that kills their standard bearer’s Presidency in its infancy.

What is also important is that Obama not allow his personal relationships with key figures to be harmed by spillover from political disagreements.  Old political hands remember how House Speaker Tip O’Neill and President Ronald Reagan could fight tooth and nail over an issue and still preserve a cordial personal relationship, which allowed them to work together effectively when they found common ground on other issues. Leaders like John Boehner and John McCain who are opposing the stimulus bill now may be valuable allies on other issues, for example in the area of foreign policy. Obama should avoid using his bully pulpit to vilify his opposition if he wants to be able to asesemble bipartisan support for future initiatives.


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What is in the proposed federal stimulus bill?

Posted by sanityinjection on January 28, 2009

The Wall Street Journal has a great piece up summarizing the various pieces of the proposed stimulus bill that is currently before the House:

What is great about this article is that it explains the various pieces in simple terms and how much each will cost. Thus, readers can decide for themselves which pieces they are comfortable with.

My judgment is that more than half of the spending in this $825 billion package is either wasteful or has nothing to do with stimulating the economy. Thus I agree with House Minority Leader John Boehner’s call for House Republicans to oppose the bill in its current form. I am not suggesting that the government should do nothing, but I am suggesting that doing the wrong thing could be even worse. House leaders from both parties should work with the Administration to slim down this package until it can be supported by a bipartisan majority. That’s how the legislative process is supposed to work.

Meanwhile, Dan Gerstein has another good piece up at Forbes explaining how President Obama fits into all this. Gerstein explains that while Obama isn’t necessarily supportive of  many of the spending items in the bill, he’s not eager to pick another fight with his fellow Democrats in the House after successfully getting Speaker Pelosi to back down and remove the family planning piece. Rather, Obama will let the House Dems push through their bill on a party-line vote and concentrate on improving the bill in the Senate:

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