The Obamas' First Day of School
By Ben Pershing
Sasha and Malia Obama are joining their new classmates at Sidwell Friends this morning, and in a way, it's their dad's first day of school, too. Today's lesson will cover two topics: 1) How to craft a massive stimulus package and guide it through the legislative gears; and 2) How to recover from your first official Cabinet embarrassment.
On the first subject, the president-elect will report to Capitol Hill for Ms. Pelosi's and Mr. Reid's class, with Mr. Boehner and Mr. McConnell also on hand to teach a little humility. Along with (possibly) a bagged lunch, Obama will bring with him a stimulus proposal that reportedly will include "about $300 billion in tax cuts for workers and businesses." That may well appeal to recalcitrant Republicans and some moderate Democrats, but won't necessarily stop criticism of the plan's price tag and priorities. (You can expect to hear Republicans keep mentioning that "Mob Museum," as McConnell did on "This Week" yesterday.)
As for the timing of the stimulus package, Obama is learning all the cliches today -- Rome wasn't built in a day, slow and steady wins the race, and so on. Much as the incoming president would love to have a bill to sign by the time he's sworn in, it's not going to happen. Reid and Steny Hoyer both suggested Sunday that it would be at least mid-February before a package was ready for the president's desk, and even that assumes a fairly quick turnaround given how big this package is and how many different stakeholders (the tax people, the transportation people, the energy people) there will be on Capitol Hill.
For his class on the Cabinet, perhaps Obama didn't do his homework, or is simply not a student of history.
Posted at 8:05 AM ET on Jan 5, 2009
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