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McConnell Puts the Brakes on Stimulus Plan

By Paul Kane
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) voiced skepticism today about the emerging economic stimulus plan, applying a brake to Democratic plans to quickly pass up to $850 billion in spending and tax cuts soon after President-elect Barack Obama's Jan. 20 inauguration.

"As of right now, Americans are left with more questions than answers about this unprecedented government spending, and I believe the taxpayers deserve to know a lot more about where it will be spent before we consider passing it," McConnell said in a statement, which will be publicly issued later today.

Obama's advisers and congressional Democrats have been huddling in the Capitol trying to craft a massive stimulus plan that could cost anywhere from $675 billion to $850 billion, while some economists are pushing for a total package worth more than $1 trillion.

McConnell -- the most powerful Republican in Washington, based on the filibuster-proof level of 41 GOP Senate seats -- called for many congressional hearings on the stimulus plan and some undetermined safeguards to assure the money is being spent wisely.

Details are still emerging as key negotiators retreated for the holidays and they aren't likely to reconvene face-to-face meetings until later this week. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) have set a goal of passing the massive economic jolt as close as possible to Obama's swearing-in; House Democrats have considered passing the bill without it going through the committee process.

McConnell has the ability to dramatically slow the process or even block it, should all 41 Republicans come together in a filibuster.

McConnell specifically called for a weeklong cooling off period between when the bill is drafted and when it is voted on, allowing time to dissect it for signs of "fraud and waste."

Senate Democrats reiterated their contention that any quick passage of the legislation will require full acceptance by GOP leaders, who at this point have not been involved in negotiations.

"We want to pass it as quickly as possible. That will depend on whether we can get cooperation from Senate Republicans," said Jim Manley, spokesman for Reid.

Congress returns to start its 111th session on Jan. 6, two weeks before Obama takes office.

By Web Politics Editor  |  December 29, 2008; 2:28 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency , Economy  
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All you nay-sayers are just jealous because you're fat and white and live with your mother. And by "mother", I mean your wife. Obama is gonna look like superman signing that bill on the night of his innaugural mega-party and you'll just be in your mother's basement wanking to Sarah Palin.

Posted by: tbushman | December 31, 2008 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Of course the Dems are going to spend money. Then expect to see taxes raised to cover the cost. That will complete their circle, tax and spend, tax and spend. That's all they know to do.

Posted by: Bowhunter

As opposed to the Republicans, who only know how to borrow and spend. Yeah, gotcha.

Posted by: SGall23241 | December 30, 2008 9:56 PM | Report abuse

I hope this is a legitimate review, and not just a case of "We want our cut."

This seems like a tremendous opportunity for congress to do the right thing -- but if history is an accurate guide, many will use the opportunity as an excuse to dust off their pet projects and update the terminology to make them appear to meet our economic objectives. This is the time for the average american to be particularly vigilant, as the money to be spent is ours.

Posted by: postfan1 | December 30, 2008 12:52 PM | Report abuse

The Reid/Pelosi plan has been to freeze the Republicans out of *any* consultation over the contents, produce the whole bill on the floor of the House/Senate, and attempt to ram it thru in one single motion.

This is going to be the most porked-up legislation in the history of the country, one giant budget-burning trillion dollar payoff for every Democratic Governor and Party Pol in the country, at our expense. For those of you who claim the Republicans were irresponsible with our money, and voted for the Democrats, I hope you enjoy your Change, because that's all that will be left of your paycheck.

Posted by: georgfelis | December 30, 2008 11:47 AM | Report abuse

McConnell and the Republicans spent money like crazed weasels when they ran the Congress. National debt went from $5,807,463,412,200 to $8,506,973,899,215 in six short years. But NOW he's concerned about spending money. Well, you boob, you should have been paying down the debt while the economy was good so that the government can spend when times are bad - like right now.
If the Republicans decide to roadblock efforts to support the country during the Great Bush Depression, then they truly deserve to be voted out of existence as a party.

Posted by: glenjo | December 30, 2008 9:58 AM | Report abuse

McConnell and his ilk are going to have a much harder time getting away with this crap. For the last 2 years, they have obstructed constantly; then they say "Look how awful these Democrats are! They haven't accomplished anything!"

But now, Obama is using the internet to inform voters of exactly who in the Senate is being obstructionist. He isn't relying on the mainstream media.

Sorry, Mitch; your little game is up.

Posted by: mollycoddle1 | December 30, 2008 5:52 AM | Report abuse

jrm2 says, "last time I checked the New Deal worked out just fine."

Uh, not sure what you're "checking," but I'd suggest you check again. Even if the New Deal were not a fiasco -- and it was -- that was eighty years ago, for crying out loud.

Posted by: zjr78xva | December 30, 2008 12:20 AM | Report abuse

If the Republicans don't blow the whistle on this scam they're good for nothing. Kudos to McConnell, and may he grow a backbone.

Posted by: zjr78xva | December 30, 2008 12:12 AM | Report abuse

"No more "Bail-outs" without accounting. Citizens are sick of being taxpayer raped...

Posted by: USDefender | December 29, 2008 4:14 PM | "
You're joking right? YOUR President just gave a bunch of greedy Wall Street execs our children's future.

Last time I checked we've been losing jobs at an alarming rate. The Bush administration has been borrowing and printing money for years now on fool-hardy adventures like the Iraq war.

The Dems want to put AMERICANS back to work, create renewable energy jobs that cannot be outsourced, rebuild our infrastructure.

This is not a bailout, and yes it is like the New Deal but last time I checked the New Deal worked out just fine.

What kind of an American are you anyway?

Posted by: JRM2 | December 29, 2008 11:37 PM | Report abuse

Of every $100 you paid in taxes:
$42 goes to Past and Current Military
$22 goes to Health
$10 goes to Interest on Non-Military Debt
$9 goes to Anti-Poverty Programs
$4 goes to Education, Training & Social Services
$4 goes to Government & Law Enforcement
$3 goes to Housing & Community Development
$3 goes to Environment, Energy & Science
$2 goes to Agriculture, Commerce and Transportation
$1 goes to International Relations

Posted by: NeilSagan | December 29, 2008 10:23 PM | Report abuse

National Priorities Project

analyzes and clarifies federal data so that people can understand and influence how their tax dollars are spent.

Posted by: NeilSagan | December 29, 2008 10:16 PM | Report abuse

Republicans should be part of the crafting right now. The article doesn't make it clear why they're not.

We need a big stimulus, and we need it soon, but I would rather have it take an extra week or two and be slimmed by many billions that would otherwise be wasted.

No stimulus at all, though, is likely to result in a long and horrible recession.

Posted by: Nissl | December 29, 2008 7:16 PM | Report abuse

sounds like:
No plan of his own, but just obstruct.

Posted by: odell1 | December 29, 2008 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Of course the Dems are going to spend money. Then expect to see taxes raised to cover the cost. That will complete their circle, tax and spend, tax and spend. That's all they know to do.

Posted by: Bowhunter | December 29, 2008 5:33 PM | Report abuse

Spending 850 to a Trillion dollars on a so-called "Stimulus Plan " is complete idiocy!
Reid and Pelosi, et al need to get a grip. This is money that we don't have. Mortgaging our childrens financial future is insanely unkind.
The stimulus idea is very foolhardy for all of us.
Buck-up and tough it out. America First and disciplined allocation of government monies is essential for our survival. Americans need to know exactly what money is expended, why, how and what for!
No more "Bail-outs" without accounting. Citizens are sick of being taxpayer raped...

Posted by: USDefender | December 29, 2008 4:14 PM | Report abuse

I am disappointed to hear that Republicans are not already deeply involved in negotiations for this stimulus package. Have Republicans declined to participate, or is the Congressional leadership tone deaf when it comes to Obama's call for change.

The notion that legislators should develop legislation without all stakeholders in the conversation is dead. Republicans are sure to be a problem if they feel cut out of the process. If they are resisting early invitations to the table, that is an entirely different matter that needs to be exposed.

Posted by: affirm | December 29, 2008 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Where were McConnell and the Republicans when the Bush Administration rammed through the more than $700 billion bailout bill? I don't recall them asking for details on how that money would be spent (or misspent - depending on your opinion). The largest government spending ever (most of it borrowed money) occurred during the Bush Administration.

Posted by: kdan4231 | December 29, 2008 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Rather than having a bunch of incompetent Congressional Lawyers, who are purely Partisan and bought hacks grab Money without a Clue as to how to best use it;

Why not get Mitt Romney, Bloomberg, and other Businessmen involved?

Of course Brakes need to be applied! We still have not gotten anything done from over 770 Billion already squandered!

Posted by: SAINT---The | December 29, 2008 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Didn't we just give 350-700 billion to mismanaged investment banks. Now 850 more billion to a gazillion pork projects (albeit some with good intentions stamped on them). Why not just cut taxes only and see what happens without all the misguided, lobbyist-lead meddling. I thought democrats wanted to reduce those "Bush deficits" not triple them?

Posted by: star_key2 | December 29, 2008 2:45 PM | Report abuse

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