The Trail: A Daily Diary of Campaign 2008



Senior Republicans Call for 'Hard Choices' From Obama

By Scott Wilson
Republican congressional leaders today called President Obama's budget proposal wasteful and his plan to rescue the nation's ailing banks unrealistic, and they urged the administration to "make hard choices," even if that meant allowing some major financial institutions to fail.

White House officials responded that correcting a dismal economy would take time. They urged patience as the administration takes up health-care reform, reviews an inefficient government procurement process, and awaits the effects of the just-enacted stimulus package's new public spending and tax cuts.

As Congress prepares to consider a $3.6 trillion spending plan, the contours of the debate over economic priorities appeared in sharp focus on the Sunday morning talk shows.

Obama's political proxies echoed a point the president emphasized last week, alleging that this White House inherited the country's dire financial condition from the Bush administration.

"Fundamentally, the economy is weak," Peter Orszag, Obama's budget director, said on CBS's "Face the Nation." "Job losses began in January of 2008. The stock market started declining October 2007. This has been, you know, eight years in the making, and again, it's going to take some time to work our way out of it."

Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), appearing on ABC's "This Week," said, "The depth of domestic problems was worse than expected. The global nature of the recession, with Europe and China now struggling, was worse than we expected."

"But," Bayh said, "let's give this a little time."

Unhappy over the size and shape of the stimulus package, Republican leaders have turned their attention to the administration's expensive bank rescue plan, criticized by many as too vague on details, such as how it would account for the problem assets burdening many financial institutions.

In recent months, the government has given direct aid to and taken large stakes in major financial institutions, with little evidence that the capital infusion has improved things.

Several Republican senators warned that the Obama administration, by trying to keep alive banks with potentially untenable balance sheets, is following the path Japan took in the 1990s, which many believe prolonged its debilitating recession.

"They've got to close some big banks," Sen. Richard Shelby (Ala.), the ranking Republican on the Senate banking committee, said on ABC.

"I don't want to nationalize them. I think we need to close them," he continued. "If they're dead, they ought to be buried. We bury the small banks; we've got to bury some big ones and send a strong message to the market."

On "Fox News Sunday," Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz) leveled a similar charge at the White House.

"I don't think they made the hard decision, and that is to let these banks fail, to let General Motors go into bankruptcy and re- emerge and reorganize with new contracts with labor and others," McCain said. "I don't think they've made the tough decisions. Some of these banks have to fail."

McCain also accused Obama of reneging on his pledge to reform the budget process, an issue in their presidential contest last year. He challenged Obama to veto the spending bill that contains roughly 8,000 so-called earmarks, projects requested by individual lawmakers usually to benefit their states or districts.

Obama administration officials have argued that the earmarks, which in McCain's estimate add up to $8 billion, have been carried over from last year's budget process. On CNN's "State of the Union," Orszag said, "This is like your relief pitcher coming in into the ninth inning and wanting to redo the whole game."

"It is not last year's business," McCain said on Fox. "It's money that's going to be spent as soon as the president signs the bill. And he shouldn't sign it. He should veto it and send it right back."

Posted at 6:51 PM ET on Mar 8, 2009  | Category:  Economy
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Even Obama has admitted he won't be re-elected if the economy doesnt improve. It's not up to the Republicans. The Democrats have enough votes in Congress to pass whatever they want.

Posted by: JakeD | March 10, 2009 8:03 PM

The Senior Republicans have been nothing but whiners. It's like these guys have a game plan to obstruct the Democratic party no matter what. The folks who are struggling without incomes, insurance etc. don't matter to them. These goof-ball Republicans had to know the economy was failing long before the end of 2008. Where were they then? Now they want to pile on the President. They better watch out for the next election...they'll be gone!

Posted by: JanieBabe | March 10, 2009 4:57 PM

"This has been, you know, eight years in the making,,,,"
No! Peter Orszag, Fanie Mae, Freddy Mac which brought all these crisis to a head is the making of Clinton administration.

Posted by: mc_chen88 | March 10, 2009 4:55 PM

JohnQuimby wrote: "Senior Republicans: Hmmmm. Afghanistan or Iraq? Wow that's tough. How about BOTH! :)"

Tell you what folks! We're going to give you not just one war, but TWO. Two, that's right, at absolutely no extra charge! And because you all folks look so nice, I'll tell you what we're going to do. We're going to throw in a massive boost to Medicare, too -- FREE! That's right: free! Won't cost you a dime. Call me crazy, but when you vote Republican today, we'll give you two wars and a boost to medicare absolutely free, plus: we'll cut your taxes! You heard me right! Two wars, medicare boost, AND lower taxes! So don't wait, vote now for the party that makes the Tough Decisions!

Posted by: nodebris | March 10, 2009 1:51 AM

"Obama's political proxies echoed a point the president emphasized last week, alleging that this White House inherited the country's dire financial condition from the Bush administration."

Alleging? Ha! The Obama administration DID inherit this mess from the Bush administration. Or do you think this has all happened since January 20?

I would like to see the senior (and unior) Republicans come up with some actual ideas on how to help solve the problems, other than tax cuts. So far, all they have done is complain that there is too much spending, not enough oversight, et cetera, et cetera, and say tax cuts! tax cuts!

And why is it always pork unless it is money going to their districts or states?

Posted by: sanantoniorose | March 9, 2009 10:36 PM

Try: 9 Years in the Making!

It was the Actions and Bills Clinton, Geithner, and Summers pulled in 1998/99 that have come home to roost!

All through the last 8 years, AIG and others were free to do the unthinkable, until Bushie, and the Government gained enough Control of AIG to FORCE them to reveal their $2.4 TRILLION in collected Credit Swaps!

Until the Government acquired Fannie, Freddie and AIG, the Clintonistas made all their CRIMINAL Actions-PRIVATE!

Posted by: SAINT---The | March 9, 2009 6:00 PM

nodebris said:
"What was the last hard choice they made?"
* * * FLASHBACK * * *
Senior Republicans: Hmmmm. Afghanistan or Iraq? Wow that's tough. How about BOTH! :)

Posted by: JohnQuimby | March 9, 2009 4:59 PM

I was shanghai'ed, I thought the headline was "Sentient" Republicans, not the senile Shelby and Markain........

Whose august prescription for this mess would be to rent a string-quartet for concertos on the hill, while the country around them burns.

Damn Them, Damn them every one.

Posted by: Hub2 | March 9, 2009 1:24 PM

Excuse me? "Republican congressional leaders today called President Obama's budget proposal wasteful"??? What about hundreds of billions of dollars spent to invade a country that was NOT a threat to us??? No-bid contracts to Halliburton, KBR, and Blackwater?

THAT wasn't "wasteful"?

How do they think we got into this mess?

Posted by: dcgrasso1 | March 9, 2009 12:29 PM

The people voted for President Obama not Senator McCain (who has lost 2 times).
He was in the senate last year and kept his mouth shut while all this destruction was taking place and now he has an opinion. Let Pres. Obama lead Senator McCain. Don't be such a sore loser and a grouchy negative old man. You LOST and that was the peoples decision.

Posted by: barryaudrey | March 9, 2009 12:08 PM

To the "senior" republicans: people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

Where were you guys when the ground work was underway to facilitate Wall Street and the Banking industry's fleecing of the American people? I'll tell you: you were incapable of seeing, and unable to make hard decisions to put safeguards in place that could have prevented the DISASTER we're dealing with.

Where do I start? Senator McCain? Part of the solution or part of the problem?... he's part of the problem.

All of you weak, weak, spineless Republican Senators and Representatives who did not have the guts to stand up to the idiot "W", would do Americans a great service by retiring... and take your sniveling, whining rhetoric with you.

Posted by: skiloypet | March 9, 2009 11:03 AM

"And, 0 dear God, please bless the Pennsylvania Railroad, the Girard Trust Co., and the Republican Party."

Thus, says Author Struthers Burt, the children of Philadelphia's rich once closed their bedtime prayers”

They are all dead - the Pennsylvania Railroad, the Girard Trust and the GOP.


Posted by: toritto | March 9, 2009 9:46 AM

For eight years DAVID X LI's "MANCHURIAN FORMULA" has been slowly destroy Wall Street, now he is back in China.

Who is DAVID X Li the man who invented the "MANCHURIAN FORMULA" that everyone on wall street and around the world used.
Recipe for Disaster: The Formula That Killed Wall Street
Feb 23, 2009 ... David X. Li, it's safe to say, won't be getting that Nobel anytime soon. One result of the collapse has been the end of financial economics ... - 56k -
More results from »

You all thought it was George Bush who ruined Wall Street

VJ Machiavelli
No More Schumer
No More Pelosi

Posted by: VJMachiavelli1 | March 9, 2009 1:26 AM

Senior Republicans. OK. What was the last hard choice they made?

At least junior Republicans can reasonably claim that they don't know anything about it, they were just following orders.

The Senior Republicans, though. Gosh. Twenty years of coasting and they call for "hard choices?" That's just rich.

Here's a hard choice for them: retire.

Posted by: nodebris | March 9, 2009 12:41 AM


President Obama does not yet seem to be cognizant of a frightening reality -- that the Bush "torture memos" were used to justify "programs of personal destruction" that REMAIN IN PLACE ON HIS WATCH.

Obama must come to realize that federal agencies and commands have enabled the ONGOING covert microwave weapons torture of U.S. citizens deemed "undesirables" and "dissents"... well as the nationwide GPS-enabled "community gang stalking" of U.S. citizens, who are hunted down like prey by citizen vigilante goons as "target" vehicles and implanted GPS devices enter the "crown of evil" GPS grid of the gang-stalkers.

It appears that Obama and most liberal/progressives have yet to realize that the "war on terror" appears to have been a calculated pretext for an "American genocide/politicide" -- a horrific silent holocaust that has destroyed, and continues to destroy, untold thousands, if not millions, of American families and no doubt has contributed to economic tumult.

One person who WAS aware, and deserves vindication, is the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. What has been happened since the dawning of the Bush administration has turned a just society into the "US of KKK-A," as harsh and impolitic as that sounds.

And the 21st century version of the Klan -- an American Gestapo -- remains on its covert march -- hiding behind covert federal "programs of personal financial destruction" and federally-funded community policing and town watch programs co-sponsored by local law enforcement nationwide.

President Obama must act immediately to restore American civil and human rights -- because each day he delays, the forces running these programs, the forces who will resist whatever "change" his presidency offers, are one day closer to making it impossible him to fulfill the "hope" he still embodies.

For more on "Gestapo USA" and why team Obama must move immediately to dismantle the Bush-Cheney "extrajudicial punishment network"...

PS. -- Anyone reading this with "access" to decision-makers on Team Obama and in Congress: Please send them this missive.

Posted by: scrivener50 | March 8, 2009 11:30 PM

Over 71 thousand jobs saved (just this week) in Virginia because of the stimulus bill, the same ones the republican congress was almost unanimously against.

They want the big banks to fail so Obama will fail.

Posted by: JRM2 | March 8, 2009 11:27 PM

Where were these Republicans when they had to make hard choices? The fact is, they made choices that brought us to this mess.

Why should Obama listen to them?, they've been wrong time and time again.

Posted by: JRM2 | March 8, 2009 11:24 PM

A Presidential veto now is nothing like a relief pitcher (unless your relief pitcher refuses to throw the ball).

Posted by: JakeD | March 8, 2009 10:09 PM

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