Presidents Nelson, Collins Upbeat After Saving Bipartisanship
Washington (BP) - Presidents Susan Collins, the historic first female President, and Ben Nelson, the historic first Nebraskan President (OK, Ford, but he was only born there), were reported in good spirits after working long into the night to save bipartisanship on the $780 billion dollar stimulus package. Just three weeks after their inauguration, they were able to avert the bipartisanship crisis and come together to restore the faith of everyone working as on-air or print talent in the media industry in the vicinity of Georgetown, Bethesda, MD and Arlongton, VA.
Sen. Ben Nelson, a Democrat from Nebraska and one of the chief negotiators of the plan, said senators had trimmed the plan to $827 billion in tax cuts and spending on infrastructure, housing and other programs that would create or save jobs.
"We trimmed the fat, fried the bacon and milked the sacred cows," Nelson said as debate began.
According to several senators, the revised version of the plan axed money for school construction and nearly $90 million for fighting pandemic flu, among other things.
Remaining in the plan are tax incentives for small businesses, a one-year fix of the unpopular alternative-minimum tax and tax-relief for low- and middle-income families, said Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who was the most prominent Republican negotiator in the bipartisan talks.
"Our country faces a grave economic crisis and the American people want us to work together," she said. "They don't want to see us dividing along partisan lines on the most serious crisis facing our country."
Making the recovery bill safe for tax cuts and free of wasteful spending like $40 billion in aid to states which will now have to lay off hundreds of thousands of workers was "a very liberating process," Presidents Nelson and Collins said before repairing to separate corners of the White House with their families. "It feels good to have that sense of accomplishment that comes with kicking firefighters and teachers out onto the street and seeing others slip into poverty," Nelson and Collins said in unison. "They said it couldn't be done!" The Presidents offered a list of wasteful nonsense that was excised:
In addition to the large cut in state aid, the Senate agreement would cut nearly $20 billion proposed for school construction; $8 billion to refurbish federal buildings and make them more energy efficient; $1 billion for the early childhood program Head Start; and $2 billion from a plan to expand broadband data networks in rural and underserved areas.
Collins and Nelson's chief of staff, former Illinois Congressman Rahm Emanuel, was singled out for praise:
Obama endorsed the moderates' effort and brought its leaders -- Sens. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) -- to the White House to discuss their proposed cuts. White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel attended the final meetings in Reid's office last night to work out lingering differences. Before Emanuel arrived, Collins said, Democrats were advocating $63 billion in cuts. "Then Rahm got involved, and a much better proposal came forward," she said.
Once the expected Senate passage is completed, the bill will move to a conference committee with the House of Representatives, whose leader, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, called the new package "very damaging" and said she was very much opposed to the cuts. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn was quoted as saying, "I don't think much of what the Senate is doing." In response, Presidents Collins and Nelson retorted, "Who died and elected them President?"
In other news, state Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) and his team won the Illinois Legislature pick-up basketball game last night by the score of 65-53.