Game Of Chicken
I'm at work missing Obama's press conference, but it sounds to me like the AP reporter misread this answer:
Yet, he also acknowledged that some components of the bill would not create jobs, as GOP critics have complained. While such spending plans might be worthy, he said, "those programs should be out of this."
Considering that earlier in the day he said that cuts to education funding should be restored in the bill, I'd be surprised if this wasn't a reference to non-stimulative tax cuts like the AMT patch and the home-buyers credit. Looking at Ambinder's live-blog, he actually may have been conceding a point there, but he also talked about his upset at some of the cuts for school construction.
Over the past couple days Obama and his team have certainly hinted that they would be looking to alter things in conference on that part of the bill. But here's Arlen Specter's grim warning:
"My support for the Conference Report on the stimulus package will require that the Senate compromise bill come back virtually intact including, but not limited to, overall spending, the current ratio of tax cuts to spending, and the $110 billion in cuts."
In other words, accept the Senate version or we'll sink the economy.
Honestly, I'd like to see him try. He'd be a dead man walking for 2010, and he probably wouldn't be allowed to set foot in Pennsylvania for about a year. Specter always makes ultimatums like this before caving, by the way. He was the guy who shrieked on the Senate floor that habeas corpus was a thousand-year bedrock of common law, before voting to gut it. I'd say his ultimatum can be read as a sign of weakness.
Keep the pressure on. Make them torpedo this.
...This is very, very good stuff.
He can back up the rhetoric by demanding a bill that can actually work and reinforce his argument.