Whether it was a kabuki dance or just the Democratic majority in the Senate finding its power or, amazingly, the essence of deliberative democracy, the Obama recovery plan looks to have gotten a facelift:
President-elect Barack Obama tried Sunday to shore up support in Congress for his ambitious economic policies, with his top advisers offering concessions on his economic-stimulus proposal and preparing to detail conditions for how the incoming administration will spend the second half of the $700 billion financial rescue package.
Emerging from a two-hour meeting in the Capitol with Obama advisers Lawrence Summers and Jason Furman, Senate Democrats praised the President-elect's team for agreeing to make changes to its stimulus proposal based off of concerns senators raised last week at a meeting with the president-elect’s senior aides.
The Obama team told about 35 Senate Democrats gathered at Sunday’s meeting that it would grow the size of an energy-tax incentive package and modify proposed tax credits for individuals and for businesses that hire new employees, according to meeting attendees. Also, with lawmakers raising concerns that the first half of the $700 billion of the financial rescue law was badly mismanaged, Obama’s team signaled it would lay out precisely how it would spend the second half of that package, which Congress is expected to consider as soon as this week.
“It’s very clear they’ve listened, they’ve heard and that they’re moving to respond,” said Sen. Kent Conrad, chairman of the Budget Committee, who questioned previously whether the tax credits in the stimulus package were enough to encourage new jobs. “It was very, very healthy. They’re not defensive, not arguing back, they’re listening, they’re attempting to hear and they’re responding.”
It's good to have a negotiation drift to the left. The right is focused on deficit reduction, which is interesting, considering that eight years of Republican policies brought record budget deficits and a booming national debt. They've all converted into fiscal hawks at just the right time!
The hope is that they will remain irrelevant. It is not worth getting 80 votes in the Senate if the cost is a million jobs because too much money goes to tax cuts.
By the way, watch that new TARP program. If done right, that could have a positive effect on the economy as well.
...A few weeks ago, John Boehner asked for economists - on his website, publicly - who opposed the recovery plan to sign onto a document. He hasn't found one former member of the President's Council of Economic Advisers - not one Democrat, and not one Republican.
Good luck with that, John.