Extracting More Concessions From Obama

Booman writes:

Why d[id] Boehner and the other leaders want [the] vote [on the stimulus bill] to be unanimous? Because they still want to extract concessions in the conference. . . In the end, I suspect that a couple dozen Republicans will vote for the final stimulus bill. But they sent a message today that they have discipline.

Is Booman expecting Obama to give more concessions to the House GOP? And what of concessions to the Senate GOP? Relatedly, Al Giordano writes:

[The GOP's] other complaint du jour was most interesting to me: the Stimulus Bill's inclusion of $50 million dollars to the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA).

Obama hasn't yet nominated the next NEA chief. The agency's budget for fiscal year 2008 was $144 million dollars, so the extra $50 million would be a major shot in the arm. And it gives the new director, if someone with vision, a golden opportunity to unleash an army of artists and other creative Americans to be the public eyes and ears and the grassroots propaganda arm of this effort to restart the economy.

It seems to me that that extra $50 million is likely to fall by the wayside in the coming negotiations with Senate Republicans and, apparently, a second round with House Republicans. In addition, the Senate has included an AMT (Alternative Minimum Tax) fix:

The U.S. Senateís tax-writing committee added $70 billion in relief from the alternative- minimum tax to an $825 billion economic stimulus proposal.

The provision benefiting more than 30 million households, primarily with incomes between $100,000 and $500,000 annually, was approved by voice vote today as an amendment to $272 billion in tax cuts the Senate Finance Committee already had planned for the broader stimulus plan.

Inclusion of the alternative-minimum tax relief would swell the stimulus planís tax cuts to $342 billion. The tax relief is anchored to President Barack Obamaís campaign promise to give workers a reduction of up to $1,000 by reducing Social Security payroll taxes. The Obama administration urged exclusion of the AMT provision when the House drafted its stimulus bill, House Ways and Means Committee Charles Rangel said last week.

That is not efficient use of $70 billion for stimulus. But I would bet you it survives the negotiating process.

And nothing on the housing crisis. This stimulus bill leaves a lot to be desired.

Speaking for me only

< Not Forgetting Torture | Thursday Morning Open Thread >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    Which is why (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by jbindc on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 09:13:51 AM EST
    All the Republicans and some Democrats voted against it.  There are some good things in there, but it is so laden with stuff that has nothing to do with "stimulus" that it's given the Republicans the opening they need. The infrastructure funds won't be used for years, and people want help with housing, health care, and jobs NOW, so when they see stuff in a bill like $1 billion to follow up on the 2010 census (which hasn't happened yet), it doesn't easily translate into how that is going to help them in the immediate future.

    Maybe (none / 0) (#31)
    by jbindc on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 10:39:57 AM EST
    But this is NOT a regular budget appropriations bill, which is what you may be thinking of.  This is a stimulus bill, designed to quickly jumpstart the economy. Projects starting in 2010, and where the money may not be fully allocated until the end of Obama's term do not show the public how concerned Congress is about doing something that will help people now. It may be great that we will have improved roads in 4 years, but that isn't going to feed someone's family, or keep a roof over their heads today.

    I hear differently (5.00 / 1) (#37)
    by sj on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 11:20:57 AM EST
    I was (kind of) listening to local Public Radio where <some guest> gave two or three examples of how some of that money could be spent immediately.  The one I remember is a bus system where some routes had been identified as needing more buses.  But there was no money to buy them, or pay the drivers.  Ordering those buses would have also provided work to the manufacturers, which would have required steel.  They talked about the whole ripple effect of that one.  I'm sure that just a little research would find all sorts of plans on the shelf just waiting for funds to implement.

    Yup (none / 0) (#38)
    by CST on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 11:46:08 AM EST
    There are a ton of projects going on, that are "mid-stream", and are on hold because they ran out of funding or their funding was frozen.

    They've been patching the AMT (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Anne on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 09:14:58 AM EST
    ever since it reached the point where it was going to bite ordinary people in the wallet - so why can't they just fix it once and for all, in a separate bill?  I guess they like that feeling of being able to tell the American people that they once again rode to their rescue and saved them from the evil tax man.

    As for the NEA funding, Dems may see it as a disposable item, free to be tossed as a concession; unfortunately, the GOP frames the presence of the funding as evidence that the Dems are just loading up the bill with their pet, liberal interests, none of which have anything to do with stimulating the economy.  Tossing out the funding is not seen as Dems making a concession, but as the GOP saving America from the reckless and irresponsible and wrong-headed Democrats.

    How do the Dems not see that?

    revenue (none / 0) (#21)
    by jedimom on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 09:50:59 AM EST
    Rangel has spoken about this extensively, they wont permanently FIX the AMT because of the massive amounts of revenue it generates.

    First the GOP blocked a permanent fix cause they needed the dough to make up for their top end tax cuts and now the Dems wont fix it for the same reason...it is purely awful, that AMT hit me once and I couldnt even believe the amount I owed....

    totally agree on housing BTD, I am SURE the HOLC will be in the TARP Tranche Two, it Better be in there, for gawds sake give us HOLC!

    If we cant do it now when we have it all, then there is no sanity in this Congress...WWKD (what would Krugman do)


    If we wait (none / 0) (#36)
    by mmc9431 on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 11:18:37 AM EST
    I read where 1 out of 54 homes in this country is already in foreclosure. (Evidently the banks aren't working with too many customers or that total wouldn't be that so devastating). With the job market crumbling that figure will increase. If we continue to wait and see if everything is going to crash and burn before we take action, we'll find we're too late. The deeper the hole the longer and harder it's going to be for the country to rebound.

    And what if they do concede (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by sallywally on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 09:20:22 AM EST
    as they did in the House, and make the bill even worse and less effective, and then the Repubs all vote against it again?

    They'd deliberately make the bill ineffective, still complain about the tiny bits of value left in it, and when what has become their bill fails to lift the economy, point out that they voted against it all the way through.

    Lots of noise needs to be made publicly about how they have been completely partisan and done not one thing to work across the aisle.

    I agree up until your last line (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by ruffian on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 09:31:13 AM EST
    I think the noise needs to be made about how the policies they are advocating (tax cuts) will not stimulate the economy. I don't expect them to be bipartisan and think that is the wrong argument to be having.

    I hope he Obama is already writing the (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by ThatOneVoter on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 09:32:44 AM EST
    speech in which he discards the PPUS, saying that its clear the Republicans have no interest in cooperation, no interest in providing good ideas.

    Obama's bill is relatively (5.00 / 0) (#6)
    by dk on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 09:28:17 AM EST
    weak and innefective.  However, he is a media darling (and the media is essentially center-right on the economy), so the media is reporting it to be big and bold.

    At this point, the negotiations/concessions are not particularly important...it's taking an already bad bill and making it a little worse...not such a big deal when taken in context of Obama's weak and innefective bill.

    In the end, this will be a big media "win" for Obama in the short term.  Of course, it won't help real people.  This whole thing was pretty much over as soon as Obama announced his plan, and the fact that the media is covering it as a bold plan cuts off all chances of improving it.  

    Why? (none / 0) (#10)
    by cotton candy on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 09:34:07 AM EST
    Something is better than nothing at this moment and so long as jobs were included in this bill I think it will be okay. Of course more has to be done but the man has been in office for a week.

    I also think it is hard to judge something before it has been enacted.  He needed to do something quickly and this is a start.


    And "something better" (5.00 / 4) (#13)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 09:39:39 AM EST
    is better than "something."

    Especially when this is the action that is "going to fix the economy."


    Question (none / 0) (#20)
    by cotton candy on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 09:49:47 AM EST
    Do you honestly believe that this stimulus bill was going to be the magic bullet to completely fix the economy?

    I have always looked at this as a starting point as it is going to take far more than this bill to get the economy stable again.  I think this is a good starting point as something had to be done immediately to get the ball rolling.  

    Again, time will tell.


    I believed it could have (5.00 / 3) (#26)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 10:19:58 AM EST
    done a great deal more to raise demand and thus spur economic growth.

    Do you honestly believe a better bill could not have been enacted?


    the public (none / 0) (#23)
    by jedimom on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 09:53:39 AM EST
    yes but the public wont sit still for ANOTHER massive plan after the massive TARP Tranche Two that follows THIS massive stimulus..

    iow we will be out of bullets and they are wasting our best chance to do real meaningful infrastrucutre and job stimulus....

    AND dont forget the longer term effects of this bill we are passing now, there WILL be a price in hyperinflation down the road, not to worry now, but to keep adding massive bills cause this is just a 'starting point' is really undoable...


    Inflation (5.00 / 2) (#27)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 10:20:28 AM EST
    is absolutely the least of our worries.

    The only ones hawking the bill as some (none / 0) (#33)
    by Anne on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 11:03:20 AM EST
    kind of magic bullet are the media nitwits who are raising expectations - not so the people will be hopeful about where this is all going, but so they can wring as much drama as possible from it when it fails to meet those expectations.

    What concerns me is not that this is not the magic bullet, but that the Democrats' gun popped out a little flag that says "BANG!" on it, and I fear the gun is loaded with more of the same.

    Whatever it was meant to be - starting point, first shot, step one - it should have come from a position of strength, not weakness.  And now that the weakness has been exposed, it will be exploited over and over again, and not to our ultimate benefit.


    Something is sometimes just barely... (5.00 / 2) (#35)
    by sj on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 11:10:53 AM EST
    ...better than nothing.

    If you loan me ten bucks because my kids are hungry and I spend $1 on lentils and $9 on cigarettes and booze do you think it was a good deal?  Yes, it's good that the kids got something, but wouldn't it have been better to spend that other 9 bucks on carrots, potatoes and little meat and make a hearty stew?  After all, my kids are going to have to pay you back in the end.  And they need to be strong and healthy in order to do that.

    No one expects this bill to "fix the economy."  But I did hope for something that had some substance and would make more than a mild ripple when the dollars involved are so staggering.


    Well, we will see (none / 0) (#15)
    by dk on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 09:41:21 AM EST
    which one of us is right.  For my part, I see no reason to disagree with Krugman on this.

    We're gonna need employment stimulus in 2010 (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by ruffian on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 09:48:52 AM EST
    and beyond also, so I agree with the 'time-released' aspects of the job creation spending.

    I'm coming to the conclusion that I would have much preferred at least 3 separate bills - one for tax policy, one for unemployment benefits and job training, and one for the infrastructure spending. Maybe it's the engineer in me that likes to see things more logically organized. It would also make it clear who is in favor of what. Of course, that's exactly what congresscritters do not like.


    Pork? (5.00 / 2) (#24)
    by mmc9431 on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 09:58:21 AM EST
    I'm in total shock! My guy finally did something positive in Congress.

    the Lipinski amendment adding $3 billion in transit infrastructure funding to the House economic stimulus legislation passed!

    Public transportation is essential for this country. The last thing we need is more cars on the roads. As soon as the economy recovers, the price of gas will be back over the $4.00 level again.

    I was feeling decent for awhile (5.00 / 4) (#32)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 10:45:13 AM EST
    about the direction our country could now head in.  I've read this morning, listened this morning, the pit of my stomach is not a happy place.  By this time next year we will all be ashamed of how ineffective this bill will have demonstrated to be, whatever version we get of it whenever we get it.  Some seem to think I should be happy about this "beginnng" and celebrate it as a "start" but the economy is going to get much worse for the little man and nobody seems able to grasp how bad this is going to get.  After this first year and having it done so badly we will be acting upon emergency situations from here on out.  The window for our best proactive opportunities is shrinking exponentially.  It could have been said that we were forced into this position because the Republicans refused to face the reality, but there was no fight for our country and our people that took place.  Nobody seems able to see the reality and I'm all out of words now this morning as an 800 lb. gorrilla is sitting on my face.

    My Favorite Lie (none / 0) (#3)
    by NMvoiceofreason on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 09:19:45 AM EST
    The Republicans keep telling my favorite lie, and someone has to call them on it. You can't push a rope, you shouldn't tug on Superman's cape,  don't lie to Wonder Woman, and don't tell me tax cuts are economic stimulus.

    You can't push a rope.
    Tell an out of work plumber that you gave him or her a 5000$ tax deduction, and they will laugh right in your face. He or she has to have an income for tax deductions to even matter. Since we don't tax unemployment any more, it is irrelevant to their lives, something perhaps forgotten by the patrician members of Congress. Unless you give the plumber the 5000$ in the first place, they aren't going to have it, and if you give it to them, you might as well get a bathroom remodel out of it. I'm never going to buy that new widescreen HDTV or new multicore gaming computer while I'm trying to figure out how to keep my house and feed my family at the same time. Give me a job, kill the deficit, then we can talk about a tax cut.

    Don't tell me tax cuts are economic stimulus.
    There can be exceptions to this rule. It happens in the area of tax credits, like the investment tax credits. We should double the solar investment tax credit. This isn't stimulus, it's incentive. It's good policy. But none of the stimulus or bailout packages so far deal with the problems on Main Street. During Bush's two terms, we saw business after business go away. That's OK. Ninety five percent of bars and restaurants don't make it to the two year mark. But this time, they were replaced with "Got Space?" and "For Lease" signs instead of another business. We cater to the largest businesses, who have less than 1/3 of the jobs. The mistake of being focused on bigger businesses is that they won't create any jobs in a down economy. They are driven by the myopic need for profit in the quarter, and to heck with what the country needs (sorry to quote the New Republican motto). In a down economy, 90% of the new job growth comes from small business.

    If anyone really cared about getting us out of this mess, they would put the entire 350B$ of the second half of the financial bailout into the Small Business Administration. The small business community is starved for the money, would hire people immediately, and will fill all that empty space in our communities. Despite how many bathrooms you remodel, sooner or later, you are going to need a Boba Tea to sell them the Maui Fruit Smoothie that will make them want to use it. Otherwise we risk having a bunch of pretty new places and no one wants to go.

    So lie to me, and tell me that you care. Tell me that you'll never let me go, and that another job is as easy as running for re-election. Tell me that all the stimulus, in all the packages, is going to keep the Great Deep Dark at bay. Tell me to heck with what the country needs, you want a tax cut. But don't tell me tax cuts are economic stimulus.

    Like wayyy too many (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by gyrfalcon on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 10:28:35 AM EST
    of the folks on these blogs, you still haven't figured out what the original TARP funds are intended to do.  That bill had zippo-- ZIPPO-- to do with economic stimulus.  Its sole purpose was and remains to keep the financial infrastructure of this county from collapsing completely.

    Sure, give the $$ to the Small Business Admistration.  Give it to your grandmother.  Won't do anybody any good if the financial system disintegrates.


    Politely disagree (none / 0) (#41)
    by NMvoiceofreason on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 02:21:25 PM EST
    We are not talking about TARP here, we are talking about the Stimulus bill before Congress (at least of this thread).

    The financial system DID collapse. The TARP funds were supposed to be life support, not billions in bonuses (see TPM, Yahoo). The financial system has disintegrated because Credit Debt Swaps - insurance on loans - were allowed to be an unregulated making. Do you have any idea what unregulated insurance markets do? They kill economies. Bill designed to prevent it? 1933 Bill designed to kill such regulation? 1999

    Those who will not learn from their history are condemned to repeat it.


    Sorry, but you're defending (none / 0) (#44)
    by gyrfalcon on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 06:33:38 PM EST
    a statement you didn't make.

    Your words were "they would put the entire 350B$ of the second half of the financial bailout into the Small Business Administration."

    That's TARP, the "financial bail-out," as you yourself said.

    And then you change the subject and argue something nobody's been arguing against, certainly not me-- ie, the screaming need for regulation of these bizarro securitizations.

    Very poor argument.


    Obama playing hardball (none / 0) (#5)
    by cotton candy on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 09:28:17 AM EST
    Well it looks like Obama's "post partisan" tour was all about a negotiating tactic in the eyes of the general public. Every article I read yesterday specifically mentioned how Obama tried to be bipartisan while the Republicans were obstructionists.

    Meanwhile Obama is going to play hardball.


    Defective link? (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by ThatOneVoter on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 09:30:58 AM EST
    There wasn't any hardball in that link.
    Hardball would be ramming through a package with Democratic votes alone and not making concession after concession to the minority party.

    The bill right now (none / 0) (#11)
    by cotton candy on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 09:38:23 AM EST
    is pretty solid for someone being in office for one week. Do I think that there should be more spending to stimulate the economy? Of course -- and I expect to see more in the weeks ahead but by going straight to these congresscritters districts should send a strong signal to them that if they want to be obstructionists they will pay the price.

    You seem to believe (5.00 / 0) (#14)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 09:40:36 AM EST
    That a President's political capital grows as he spends more time in office.

    You may want to google the phrase "The Hundred Days" and see if that is true.


    100 days (none / 0) (#16)
    by cotton candy on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 09:45:52 AM EST
    We shall see what the polls say when they come out in 100 days. I'm willing to bet that the majority is going to give Obama far more time than previous administrations since we are facing some of the gravest circumstances in decades.

    I could be wrong but I think that Obama's political capital is going to stretch a lot longer than his recent predecessors.

    We shall soon find out.


    If he would put the country ahead (5.00 / 2) (#17)
    by ThatOneVoter on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 09:47:57 AM EST
    of his dreams of PPUS, that would be a good start.
    Who really cares about bipartisanship?
    I don't believe the voters actually care.

    The voters really really don't (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by ruffian on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 09:51:23 AM EST
    care about the bipartisanship. The media may get that through their heads after this episode, but I doubt it.

    You misunderstand (5.00 / 2) (#18)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 09:48:27 AM EST
    my point. Even if Obama were to stretch his political capital for 2 years, it will NEVER be greater than it is today. It will certainly be less.

    He needed to be at his boldest now. I suspect he was not.


    EXACTLY!!! (5.00 / 2) (#25)
    by Dadler on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 10:09:42 AM EST
    I'm amazed, Tent, at how many Obama partisans do not realize his best time to act is NOW.  They notion that as time passes Repubs will come to see the Obama light (whatever that wattage is) is folly.  The track record of the right is long and easy to read.  And the story goes like this: progressive policies can drop dead, you'll get nothing from us but the same tired crap about tax cuts for the rich and neglect for the poor.

    Going into stupid territory (none / 0) (#42)
    by NMvoiceofreason on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 02:29:20 PM EST
    by disagreeing with BTD, but my take on this is different.

    Yes, the Democrats in Congress will likely make it very hard for the Republicans in the future to be anything other than roadblocks. But Obama is seeking a different point of view. He rejects the 50.01% view of Rove. He believes that better results come from consensus.

    Perhaps people will see socially what has been broken for years. The Bushes had no friends in Washington, and destroyed the social dimension of the White House. President Obama thinks that there are some good Republicans, who after a winter thaw, can bring good ideas to the table. This was how he won at Harvard, by support from the conservatives. He was the only one who would drink with them. He thinks ideas are important.

    Perhaps we should check our idea inventory and try to get a few good ones out for Fashion Week.


    Rahm must have been lonely (5.00 / 6) (#12)
    by ruffian on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 09:38:42 AM EST
    Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel had a private White House dinner for House GOP moderates,

    That had to be the smallest White House dinner since Bush dined with his air national guard buddies.


    I needed a chuckle today Thanks! (none / 0) (#39)
    by mmc9431 on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 01:04:04 PM EST
    End result (5.00 / 1) (#43)
    by NMvoiceofreason on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 02:36:00 PM EST
    Democrats appear reasonable and interested in solving the peoples problems.

    Republicans appear unreasonable and lost somewhere in a failed ideology from the last century, completely unable to admit the mistakes, and uninterested in solving the peoples problems.

    Permanent Democratic majority?


    House Republicans: Waste in Stimulus Package (none / 0) (#45)
    by JohnRJ08 on Tue Feb 03, 2009 at 09:39:31 AM EST
    Some of the items on the House Republicans' list of "pork" make some good economic sense, such as the hybrid vehicles for public employees- as long as they're manufactured in this country. That would put government workers in more fuel-efficient, environmentally friendly cars while helping to stimulate jobs in the auto industry. Two birds. But most of the things on the list are cosmetic improvements on government buildings and facilities, which would do absolutely nothing to stimulate the economy. Very disappointing. I think it's important for gloating democrats, such as myself, to be open to the idea that some of these expenditures are not all that helpful.