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Obama Sharpens Tone on Stimulus

By Ben Pershing
Since he was sworn in, President Obama has tried to walk a very fine partisan line, appealing to supporters in his own party while also reaching across the aisle to Republicans.

On the stimulus package, in particular, that strategy has proven to be something of a mess. Democrats wanted a bigger bill than Obama proposed, with more spending, while Republicans wanted a smaller bill with more tax cuts. Throughout the House debate and the Senate debate so far, Obama has at times bounced between the two sides like a tennis ball, without clearly articulating what he wanted in the measure. The result: a House bill that didn't attract a single Republican vote, and now a Senate bill that appears to be bogged down short of the 60 votes needed to proceed.

But last night, at the House Democratic retreat in Williamsburg, Obama finally seemed to come down off the fence. He called out Republicans for wanting to go "back to the same policies" of the past eight years and blamed the Bush administration for leaving "this national debt, doubled, wrapped in a big bow waiting for me as I stepped into the Oval Office." He even returned to the call-and-response of the campaign trail, asking the assembled members whether they were "fired up?!" ("Ready to go!") Obama made similarly strong remarks to Energy Department employees earlier in the day. And his grass-roots supporters loved it. Obama will reportedly "leave Washington early next week to hold campaign-style events" to rally more support.

So, Obama the consensus-building, bipartisan-cocktail-party-throwing president has left the building, at least for the moment. And Obama the candidate is back. But to what end?

Continue reading at Political Browser »

By Ben Pershing  |  February 6, 2009; 8:19 AM ET
Categories:  The Rundown  
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Comments

So, Obama made concerted overtures to the House Republicans, who snubbed him on a fairly pretextural grounds -- since Pelosi gave them far more than they'd ever given the Dems when they were in power.

When he made the same efforts to talk to Senate Republicans, they pranced on the Senate floor and demanded the tired old tax cuts that brought on this debacle and returned us to the wealth distribution of 1913.

Finally -- barely ahead of the worst unemployment figures yet -- a few hardy souls ignore the empty McConnells, Cornyns, and Kyls and actually talk to one another. And lo, they create a compromise -- almost 50% tax cuts. What a joke.

So Obama reminds Republican blowhards that 1) they created this mess, and 2) they lost the election. The "compromise" he's been offered is pretty paltry.

These petty little tyrants in the minority have to return to their constituencies, where people are losing jobs and homes, and explain why they couldn't devote a thought to job creation or foreclosure relief, instead of their tired tax cuts.

I trust the Republican members have the electoral outcome they deserve.

Posted by: thmas | February 6, 2009 9:25 PM | Report abuse

"The Buck Stops Here."

Posted by: JakeD | February 6, 2009 7:04 PM | Report abuse

danielhancock:

I hope we'll have more to discuss another day. Thanks for putting your ideas up for conversation.

Posted by: JohnQuimby | February 6, 2009 7:02 PM | Report abuse

John,

I guess you are not going to see my point that the partisan tone that President Obama took in his speech at the retreat for congressional Democrats in Kingsmill, Virginia did not serve him well and was unnecesarily divisive particular since he is going to win the vote on the stimulus plan anyway. So I guess we will just have to agree to disagree.

Posted by: danielhancock | February 6, 2009 6:21 PM | Report abuse

danilehancock said:

"There is really no need for any compromise when the Democrats have more than enougth votes to pass this thing. They just do not want to have sole responsibility for it so they are trying to drag Republicans down with them."

It just may go that way. I guess that's what GOP leaders want.

So you've just said again that in order for the GOP to win, the President must fail and this bailout must be a disaster.

Great Plan. Call in sick for 4 years.

In my view they can join the rest of the newly unemployed and uninsured if they aren't ready to show up for work.

Posted by: JohnQuimby | February 6, 2009 4:16 PM | Report abuse

daniel:
"After awhile the statute of limitations will run out on blaming Bush and the Republicans for the bad economy. At some point Obama will own the problem"

when will that be sir?
Paulson even said our current troubles began earlier in the decade. Hmmm, correct me if I am wrong, but didn't the Supreme Court elect Baby Bush in 2000?
And gee, isn't that "earlier in the decade".


Posted by: TheBabeNemo | February 6, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse

JohnQuimby wrote: When the stated goal of the right is the failure of the American President, the President had better have an answer.
-----------------------------------
Again John, Obama, Reid, and Pelosi can pass this bill without a single Republican vote so it does not matter what the stated goal of the right is. There is really no need for any compromise when the Democrats have more than enougth votes to pass this thing. They just do not want to have sole responsibility for it so they are trying to drag Republicans down with them.

The President's trip to Elkhart, Indiana sounds like more campaign mode stuff. It seems like Obama is nostaglic for the campaign when he could just criticize Bush and just speak in plattitudes rather than having to actually lead.

After awhile the statute of limitations will run out on blaming Bush and the Republicans for the bad economy. At some point Obama will own the problem.

At that point I hope that he will become a leader instead of the whiner that he sounds like now.

Posted by: danielhancock | February 6, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

HR1 is way past being bogged down.
It's war now.

Forget about the 2nd half, the alleged TARP funds, going to the "common man" or even finding its way to the common man's front door.
The way this is getting massacred by Senate, the family down the street getting foreclosed upon, or may have 2 months left before the whip comes down......
will not see a dime.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | February 6, 2009 2:11 PM | Report abuse

"I just don't see anything that Obama gains by taking this partisan tone. At best it seems like he is thin skinned. At worst it seems like he is in over his head."

When the stated goal of the right is the failure of the American President, the President had better have an answer.

Obama called out the right wing and their media for acting like schoolyard bullies.

He also asked Leader Reid for more time to allow a group of 17 Senators - Republicans and Democrats - to offer compromise proposals.

I think he's looking to strengthen the center and take power from both extremes.

He obviously is the big dog in this.
I don't see why he shouldn't growl a bit.

Posted by: JohnQuimby | February 6, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

danielhancock said:

"Many Democrats and possibly President Obama know that this plan is bad and they only want Republican votes on it so blame can be distributed to both parties."

Wrong. President Obama is only pointing out the obvious - that GOP policy is a catastrophic failure.


Posted by: JohnQuimby | February 6, 2009 12:12 PM
---------------------------------
John, President Obama has the votes to pass this thing without a single GOP vote so why does he have to criticize Republicans? Why not just pass it and move on instead of trying to recruit Republicans?

If Senate Republicans filibuster then he can paint them as obstructionists.

I just don't see anything that Obama gains by taking this partisan tone. At best it seems like he is thin skinned. At worst it seems like he is in over his head.

Posted by: danielhancock | February 6, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

seemstome said:

"I realize that the rich and corporations pay almost all the taxes in this country..."

Not according to the US Census. That line is conservative generated spin designed to keep you in your place.

srpinpgh said:

"Pres. Obama is incorrect when he criticizes the "last eight years," since for the last two, Democrats have controlled Congress."

Wrong. President Bush had the veto pen, set the agenda and had the votes in the Senate to derail any legislation for 8 years.

danielhancock said:

"Many Democrats and possibly President Obama know that this plan is bad and they only want Republican votes on it so blame can be distributed to both parties."

Wrong. President Obama is only pointing out the obvious - that GOP policy is a catastrophic failure.

Posted by: JohnQuimby | February 6, 2009 12:12 PM | Report abuse


It's time for my rant.
The banks and corporations got their bailout with no strings attached and they got it almost instantly.
Now it's time for the po' folks to get theirs but wait, it's too wasteful.
I realize that the rich and corporations pay almost all the taxes in this country but they wouldn't have their wealth if it wasn't for us poor dumb working grunts.
Dumpster diving will become a national pastime if the they have their way.

Posted by: seemstome | February 6, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

I don't think the President does himself any favors when he resorts to partisan rhetoric particulary when the Democrats have enough votes to pass this stimulus plan without a single Republican vote.

Many Democrats and possibly President Obama know that this plan is bad and they only want Republican votes on it so blame can be distributed to both parties.

Bill Clinton did a better job as president than he was credited for but destroyed his legacy by personal indiscretions. But one of the most annoying things about him was the constant campaign mode that he stayed in.

Obama would be wise to get out of campaign mode which will only serve to polarize Democrats and Republicans. The campaign is over and he won so it is time to act more like a president and less like a candidate.

Posted by: danielhancock | February 6, 2009 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: scrivener50 | February 6, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse

EYES ONLY, TO: President Obama; VP Biden; R. Emanuel; D. Blair; J. Brennan; J. Jones; E. Holder; J. Napolitano; R. Gates; R. Mueller; H. Reid; N. Pelosi; D. Feinstein; S. Reyes

RE: A Torturous Domestic Ops Question for Team Obama

IT IS DAY 17 OF THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION.

DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOUR "MULTI-AGENCY ACTION CENTER" IS UP TO?

http://www.nowpublic.com/world/american-gestapo-state-supported-terrorism-targets-u-s-citizens

Posted by: scrivener50 | February 6, 2009 9:51 AM | Report abuse

We can not even trust the Republicans to make simple peanut butter. Why should we trust them with the economy. ..............


http://thefiresidepost.com/2009/01/29/republican-peanut-butter/

Posted by: glclark4750 | February 6, 2009 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Pres. Obama is incorrect when he criticizes the "last eight years," since for the last two, Democrats have controlled Congress. They are the two years the economy fell into a hole, the housing market collapsed, the banks failed (but the Democrats did manage to pass a minimum-wage increase, right before the economy slumped).

I find it interesting that he's falling back on this line of rhetoric, as if he's still on the campaign. Perhaps he was so busy running for the presidency, he wasn't aware that the majority had changed in Congress (he must have missed all the television surrounding Nancy Pelosi's "historic" installation as Speaker of the House).

Posted by: srpinpgh | February 6, 2009 9:12 AM | Report abuse

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