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White House Cheat Sheet: The Hard Math of the Senate Vote

The U.S. Capitol will be front and center in the economic stimulus debate today. PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images

The $827 billion economic stimulus package being pushed by President Obama is expected to be voted on and approved today by the Senate but with far less Republican support than the chief executive and his top aides initially imagined.

The Senate vote is scheduled for shortly after noon today and, according to a Democratic leadership aide, only three Republicans are expected to cross party lines to back the bill -- Sens. Arlen Specter (Pa.), Susan Collins (Maine) and Olympia Snowe (Maine).

Assuming all goes according to plan, those three votes would put Democrats at 61 votes as Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy, who has been out of the chamber since collapsing and having a seizure on inauguration day, is expected to be there for the roll call. That's one more vote than the party needs to pass the legislation -- giving Democratic leaders a small amount of wiggle room in the event one of their members (presumably someone on the ideological left unhappy with the cuts in the bill) jumps ship.

That's a far cry from the broad bipartisan majority that Obama and his top aides foresaw for the bill -- once speculating that 80 Senate votes was a real possibility.

Why did Democrats come up so short of that goal?

Conventional wisdom -- particularly the kind being peddled by congressional Republicans -- is that the lack of true bipartisanship coupled with the rush to judgment on the legislation led to their opposition.

But, the truth may well be found in study of the raw numbers of the Senate, a study that shows that a combination of Democratic gains over the past two elections and a series of Republican retirements drastically limited the pool of persuadable Republicans.

Of the 41 Republican senators, just 10 sit in states that were carried by Obama in the 2008 election. Of those ten, three are already supporting the legislation (Snowe, Specter and Collins) while another three are retiring at the end of this session -- Sens. Bonnie Newman (N.H.), Mel Martinez (Fla.) and George Voinovich (Ohio). Of the remaining four, only two -- Sens. Richard Burr (N.C.) and Chuck Grassley (Iowa) -- are up for reelection in 2010 and theoretically persuadable.

Broaden the scope slightly to include the eight Republican senators who represent states that Arizona Sen. John McCain (R) won with under 55 percent last fall and a similar trend emerges.

Missouri Sen. Kit Bond whose state McCain won with 49.4 percent is retiring. Of the seven other Senators in this group, four are up for reelection in 2010 -- McCain as well as Sens. Jim DeMint (S.C.), Johnny Isakson (Ga.) and John Thune (S.D.). In the last four presidential elections prior to 2008, however, those four states had voted only twice for the Democratic nominee -- Georgia in 1992 for Bill Clinton and Arizona in 1996 for Clinton -- meaning that there is scant evidence that a vote against Obama's number one legislative priority could come back to bite these incumbents.

Do the math: For the vast majority of Senate Republicans casting votes today, it is neither in their short-term or long-term political interests to vote with Obama and his Democratic allies. It's the downside of the 13 Senate seats Democrats have picked up over the past two election cycles and a sign that Obama's plans for bipartisanship face significant numerical obstacles in the upper chamber.

Sked Stuff: When President Obama appears in Fort Myers, Fla. today for his second economic-themed town hall in as many days, one of his potential 2012 GOP opponents -- Gov. Charlie Crist -- will be by his side. "I am eager to welcome President Obama to the Sunshine State as he continues to work hard to reignite the U.S. economy," said Crist in a statement released Monday by the White House. Crist's decision to appear with Obama comes roughly one week after the Florida governor was one of four Republican chief executives to join 15 of their Democratic colleagues in expressing their support for the president's stimulus package.

A Real Race in Pa.: Just when it looked like Sen. Arlen Specter (R) might dodge a serious race in 2010, Joe Torsella, a former congressional candidate and the past head of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, announced his decision to run on Monday. Torsella's decision gives Democrats an able fundraiser -- Torsella raised tens of millions for the National Constitution Center -- and a close ally of Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, who defeated Torsella in a 2004 Democratic primary for the 13th congressional district, will stay out of the race, according to three sources close to the situation. Torsella may still face a primary challenge but given his ties to Rendell it's hard to imagine anyone knocking him off. Torsella is a serious candidate and, given Pennsylvania's demographics, this race will be close.

Macker Turns 52: Former Democratic National Committee chairman turned Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe will celebrate his 52nd birthday today with a fundraiser at the Westin Hotel in Arlington, Va. Make sure to bring your wallet -- to serve as a "host" will cost you $5,200 but you can get in as a "young professional" for just $52. (Get it?) One person you won't see there: former state Rep. Brian Moran, a rival for the Democratic nod who hammered the Macker during a speech to the state party last Saturday.

Conservatives Rally Against Solis Pick: Americans for Job Security, a conservative interest group, is organizing a grassroots effort -- emails, phone calls etc. -- against Rep. Hilda Solis' (Calif.) nomination as secretary of labor. Solis, whose confirmation hearing was postponed last week amid revelations of an unpaid tax lien by her husband, could see her confirmation turned into an incubator of the looming brawl between business and labor over the Employee Free Choice Act a.k.a. "card check." In a statement announcing the campaign, AJS president Stephen DeMaura said that Solis is "wholly owned by Big Labor and is willing to compromise the rights of employees in order to enact their anti-worker agenda." A source familiar with AJS's plan said a paid media campaign could well be in the offing if Solis remains unconfirmed.

Don't Cross Harry Reid -- Ever: Even as Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) is drawing huge coverage for his allegations that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have failed with the economic stimulus bill, there's more evidence out of the Gem State that Reid is, um, not to be trifled with. Way back in 2007, Reid declared that no coal-fired power plants would be built within the state's borders -- a pledge that a local energy company chose not to heed. The company in question, NV Energy, announced the suspension of the construction of its coal-fired plant on Monday. As one Las Vegas blog put it: "Politically, it's wise never to bet against Harry Reid." Recruitment for a Republican challenger to Reid in 2010 goes on nonetheless. Rumors that former Rep. Jon Porter has decided against the race are misplaced, according to one knowledgeable source who said that Porter and Rep. Dean Heller remain in the mix.

Click It!: A-Rod admits to steroid use. WOW. ESPN's Peter Gammons, of course, got the scoop. And if the pressure of his huge deal in Texas was the reason, how come he stopped when he got to the pressure cooker that is the New York City sports scene? Just asking.

Say What?: "I'm always good for a beer." -- President Obama at a town hall Monday in Elkhart, Ind. when asked about the possibility of sharing an adult beverage with conservative radio (and TV) personality Sean Hannity.

By Chris Cillizza  |  February 10, 2009; 5:55 AM ET
Categories:  Cheat Sheet Share This:  E-Mail | Technorati | Del.icio.us | Digg | Stumble Previous: Obama Prime Time Presser: First Thoughts
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To those making comments about the question to Sam Stein, even Mr. Cillizza has to admit that Sam Stein is WAY more journalistic credentials then Jeff Gannon, right?

Posted by: Corey_NY | February 11, 2009 3:11 AM | Report abuse

I really disagree that this is a downside to the picked in the past 2 senatorial election cycles.

Do you honestly believe that Libby Dole, Norm Coleman, John Sununu, Gordon Smith, Rick Santorum, Conrad Burns, Lincoln Chafee, Jim Talent, George Allen and Mike DeWine would be easier to get their votes then the current Democratic senators that succeeded them?

Posted by: Corey_NY | February 10, 2009 11:41 PM | Report abuse

BTW, shoutouts to Ed Schultz, HuffPo, BET, and the other alternative media folks at 44's news conference. The WH press conference now finally leaves BroderWorld and enters the 21st Century world of the new media. And how great is it Helen Thomas, now in her Last Hurrah phase, still has her fastball? Kept 44 on his toes--that's a good thing.

Also it's a good thing there was no sign of NYT's Judith Warner at the conference. She is BHO's most devoted fan (by far), but, like her girlfriends, she seems very determined to give 44 a personal gift of something that 44 did not ask for and probably--no, definitely--does NOT want.

Great conference for 44 and major congrats on Senate vote on the bill.

Posted by: broadwayjoe | February 10, 2009 5:57 PM | Report abuse


Outright lie. How do you live with yourself?

Posted by: mikeinmidland | February 10, 2009 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Covertly slipped into GL Obama’s faux “stimulus bill” last weekend—by leftist Democrats—was the Socialist Universal Healthcare program. Contained within the bill is the provision that doctors will now be forced to report any and all of their patient treatments to the federal government for approval to treat. Also contained within this portion of Obama’s non-stimulus bill is the rationing of healthcare services to senior US citizens and the withholding of potentially life-saving measures. As Democrat Tom Daschle wrote in his book “Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis” senior citizens “should be more accepting of the conditions that come with age.” Daschle does not appear to believe that senior citizens (apparently the government’s definition of “senior citizen” is not defined) that seniors should accept their inevitable deaths without complaining. That is, senior citizens who are not members of the elite ruling class. Daschle’s medical conditions, of course, would not be applicable to these provisions.

Note: Edward G. Robinson’s death scene in the movie ‘Soylent Green’ comes immediately to mind.

Posted by: leapin | February 10, 2009 4:41 PM | Report abuse

'cause chris is seeing stars.......

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | February 10, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Accuracy is surely an issue when it comes to reporting or blogging. Why does The Fix think that Nevada is the Gem State?

Posted by: nicksak | February 10, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: TheBabeNemo | February 10, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

i am not sure that the government is so much at fault, as the entities within the government.
know what i mean.
everyone got crooked, broke the law and broke the USCode.
and it seems as though "we" never double checked them.

sure economic cycles run the circular flow, etc. etc.
but the basic adam smith circular flow --personally, i don't believe ever had "what if everything goes to hell"...
((( laughing very hard in background)))

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | February 10, 2009 1:13 PM | Report abuse


what makes a democratic priority and what makes a republican priority????

oh...steven55bob.....real good question.
i know that you can get a roster of the senators and reps, etc.
but their "personal issue of concern"....hmm....i can look around.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | February 10, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Just for accuracy, Nevada is "The Silver State". Idaho is "The Gem State". Not that I wouldn't trade Reid for anyone we've sent recently.

Posted by: kwdayboise | February 10, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Why would Republicans vote for this liberal Democrat pork laden boondogle? If the shoe was on the other foot do you think Deomcrats would vote in favor of a bill that was full of Republican priorities? That would of course would be labeled by the media as standing up for principal, whereas Republicans voting against a massive expansion of government are being obstructive. Please!! I really love Susan Collins saying she's voting in favor of the Democratic constituency stimulus becuase it's smaller than the House bill when in fact it's 19 billion larger. What total BS.

Posted by: RobT1 | February 10, 2009 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Who is at fault for this Economic Mess?

It is difficult to answer but examination of political history gives some clues. Starting with President Ford’s term of office, at the end of each President’s term, there was an economic slowdown. The degree of that slowdown varied, but there was always a slowdown. Before the end of each Presidential term economic slowdown starts and when new the President takes the oath office, the economy reaches at the brim of collapse. Then the new President starts his own economic stimulus and economy recovers and expands to its potential. This was true at the end of the terms of Presidents, Carter, Reagan, Bush 1, Clinton, and now Bush 2.
Who is responsible for these cycles of events? Is it possible during the election campaign, the opponents and opponent’s party talk down the economy which, in fact, causes the loss of public confidence in the economic system? The better orator-opponents create more damage to the economy such as the present one. Reagan did it. Clinton did it, Bush 2 did it and Obama definitely did it. Look at the language used by the President Obama to describe the Bush economy

Posted by: madayilnair | February 10, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Would it be possible to have (or does one exist)showing a map with names of Senators and how they stand on various issues so it is simple to see and then communicate with the ones we need to in order to help President Obama.

Posted by: steven55bobb | February 10, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

boosterprez - I drank the kool-aid? Oh hooray, they stood up and admitted their errors and have now seen a new path to enlightenment. So, now they're returning to their true Repub roots and think the only way out of this disaster they helped create is more tax cuts and zero spending? Yeah, how well has that worked for us? According to Moody's "Gov't spending returns on average $1.58 in GDP growth for every $1 spent. Tax cuts return an average of $0.70 in GDP growth for every $1 spent." It's pointless trying to reason with the unreasonable. Let's agree to disagree. I for one hope to hell President Obama does not fail. If he fails we all fail.

Posted by: c-denver | February 10, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

well, the Geitner plan was just announced.
The Fannie and Freddie program allowed borrowers who were 90 days delinquent on a loan to have their payments lowered to 38 percent of their income. The loan could also be extended from 30 years to 40 years, and if that was not enough, the interest rate could be reduced to as low as 3 percent to make the payments more affordable.
Consumer advocates say the program was a good start in tackling the foreclosure problem but did not go far enough to help homeowners. For example, the effort did not include measures to cut the principal owed by borrowers whose home values have fallen below their mortgage loan amount. Another requirement -- that borrowers miss three payments before qualifying for help -- has been a troublesome issue, according to some consumer groups.
The government's new approach would make the terms more generous for both the borrowers and lenders. For instance, borrowers who missed only one payment might be able to qualify, Lockhart said. Lenders may be able to reduce payments to a lower percentage of a homeowner's income.
Officials are also planning to set national standards for when banks can legally modify a mortgage -- an important concern for loan servicers who can now only perform modifications that improve the value of the mortgage under the terms of their contracts with investors.

Hello! what if you just lost your job?

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | February 10, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

I find the braying of the obstuctionist Republicans beyond hypocritical. Where was their righteous fiscal indignation lo these past eight long years?

Posted by: c-denver

So what are you saying? YOu wanted them to be fiscal conservatives then, but you don't want them to be fiscal conservatives now?

I believe many of them admitted, right on the Senate floor this past week, that they'd lost their way while Bush was president. POint of fact, while the republican-led congress did spend like crazy, it was not the kind of crazy spending dems in that congress were pressing for.

I have no problem with this hypocrisy...repubs were hypocrits as spenders 2000-2006, now they've simply returned to their true principles...and not a moment too soon, given the wasteful spending they've managed to eliminate from this still-awful spending bill.

I, for one, applaud them for carefully scrutinizing how our tax dollars are spent. If you argue against this scrutiny, you're nothing by a kool-aid drinking Obamanite.

Posted by: boosterprez | February 10, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

well now, how fr*c*n*g special can you get.

Repulsives in Senate: "gee, we have everything but the kitchen sink in HR1. So of course, let's add more!!!
Senate just had to
just had to
just had to
amend to include Illegal Immigration.

criminey sakes.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | February 10, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

um, I'm pretty sure cloture was passed yesterday (with Kennedy showing up)

Today is the up/down vote. Only 50 (or a majority) needed.

Posted by: DDAWD | February 10, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

has there been cloture yet?

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | February 10, 2009 11:19 AM | Report abuse

We need a labor secretary NOW -- let's confirm Solis' appointment!

Posted by: Washdc48 | February 10, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse

If you didn't think Coleman's lawsuit would have an effect on actual legislation, consider the impact of Franken's presence were he able to be seated.

At the very least, it would mean Kennedy could stay at home, I suppose.

Posted by: JohninMpls | February 10, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse


One comment regarding the VA Gov race:

The state of the race in Northern VA/DC is currently, McAuliffe is well known to the media/establishment, Moran is doing pretty strongly, and Deeds has a weak base in NOVA. In central VA, these numbers are reversed; in the southwest where name recognition of all is lowest, McAuliffe leads, but I think Deeds has the most room to grow. Numbers here: http://dembones-dembones.blogspot.com/2009/02/gubernatorial-poll-regional-cross-tabs.html

My point is this: Each of the candidates has their own bases, and as their name recognition grows, then they will likely be able to compete throughout the state.

The problem is that, since so much media originates from DC, a lot of DC reporters tend to treat the race entirely from the perspective of how it looks in DC: McAuliffe is the heavyweight, Moran is the fighter, Deeds is nonexistent. That's pretty much how you've been reporting it, it might be true, but it's not nearly as nuanced or useful as a lot of your analyses tend to be.

My hunch is that the numbers of this race will swing a lot. McAuliffe will have the biggest warchest, but his numbers may have the least room for growth - he'll have to fight to keep Deeds and Moran down, not just to bring himself up, and he may find it difficult to go negative against both simultaneously without some sort of backlash or making a mistake against one or the other. Moran and Deeds are both great candidates, and how well they perform depends entirely on their ability to consolidate their bases while making inroads in other parts of the state. I see all three as having a clear chance at winning this.

Chris, I think you're a great reporter. I think your treatment of the VA Gov race is pretty weak, though, because you're not doing much "reporting," most of what you're presenting is pretty much what everyone in DC hears, with a few facts about Terry McAuliffe thrown in. Next time you report on the race, give us more of your trademark Fix analyses: "This is where Deeds will run into trouble;" "McAuliffe's money may not be as useful in this area;" "Moran's position on ____ may cost him in ____."

As an honestly undecided voter in this race (a rare position for me), it would be really helpful to be able to look to you for useful information on the state of the race. I'm an obsessive Fixista (I entered SO many T-Shirt contests in the primaries, why haven't you done any more???), and this would give me another reason to keep turning to The Fix.

Posted by: gezi | February 10, 2009 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Isn't the GOP just acting like the coddled, spoiled little kid who simply refuses to do anything they are asked to do by their parents. This is no different than stomping your feet, and wrapping your arms around a banister refusing to go to school. Adult hissy fit.

Posted by: hiberniantears | February 10, 2009 10:12 AM | Report abuse

"For the vast majority of Senate Republicans casting votes today, it is neither in their short-term or long-term political interests to vote with Obama and his Democratic allies." ah, that's the ticket for doing the people's business in a time when the people are hurting.

Posted by: sbvpav | February 10, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

If we can't go over the Republicans, around the Republicans, under the Republicans....then it is definitely time for a Steelers defensive play and go right THROUGH the Republicans. Obama has made the courteous attempt to show a bipartisan spirit. He definitely brings leadership at a time we've been in an 8 year drought on the Hill. As a working person, I am tired of everyone else, i.e. corporations, banks, wall st....etc. being valued over the sweat of my brow! It is time that the average person can expect some help from the government. That the republicans don't even want to admit to that or want to compromise is no surprise to me, they are not the party of people like me except when it comes to trying to get my vote. They are and will always be, the party of the rich.

Posted by: SYWanda | February 10, 2009 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Why did Democrats come up so short of that goal?

Simple... because Republican members of Congress are largely a bunch of treasonous d-bags.

Posted by: hiberniantears | February 10, 2009 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Re your statement "For the vast majority of Senate Republicans casting votes today, it is neither in their short-term or long-term political interests to vote with Obama and his Democratic allies"

Perhaps I am being totally naive but whatever happened to politicians actually representing their constituents and voting in the best interests of the country?

I find the braying of the obstuctionist Republicans beyond hypocritical. Where was their righteous fiscal indignation lo these past eight long years?

Posted by: c-denver | February 10, 2009 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Chris's analysis also explains the zero-Republican House vote on the bill.

Virtually all of the current House Repubs represent extremist Phalinite districts who believed a "multiculturalist" would never win the White House in their lifetime.

Must-read: Post's Eugene ("Where Wright Went Wrong") Robinson's brilliant piece on why bipartisanship regarding the bill is way overrated.

Also a Must-Read (for the wrong reasons): yesterday's over-the-top NYT piece by Judith Warner on 44. Warner clarifies why she and her NYC friends support O (spoiler, it is not 44's policy positions).
Their interest in 44 is borderline Glenn Close and kinda scary--their explanation of what they want from 44 cannot please Ms. 44.

Link to Warner article:


Posted by: broadwayjoe | February 10, 2009 9:21 AM | Report abuse


By Dwight Baker
317 words

The use of the Internet is not going to save our nation. Just because we can air our wishes and desires to bring coalitions together to discuss between ourselves the needs of others and us is far from a FIX for our GOVERNMENT.

The Internet is not the fix it is just one step along the way to bring saneness back as a core of thought between us.

But WAKE UP WE HAVE NO POWER for our thoughts and desires to be pushed along inside of our corrupt affairs of our GOVERNMENT.

Petitions and Pleas and all our blogging trying to tell each of our stories best as we can will never bring the kind of POWER to bring about the needed changes.

The economic stimulus bill being discussed has had the LOBBYIST in Washington DC in a feeding frenzy adding the things that their clients WANT ADDED to the bill and some call that PORK.

I call it GREED. The give and take and chit chat and back slaps and ballyhoo are just a repulsion to me how about you?

We have the number of folks to start our own LOBBY in Washington DC. When done we would have power to affect the changes needed to bring a halt to our run a way GOVERNMENT for a time.

Our LOBBY would represent us. They would snoop too ---- to give all of us the day by day LOW DOWN what and who were pushing for what to be added to a bill to get a FREE RIDE in our DEMOCRACY.

Our LOBBY would be seen on CSPAN each night for the nightly NEWS not VIEWS from the elites and EAST COAST BLUE BLOODS needs to have their agendas pushed down our throats.


Contact dbaker007@stx.rr.com on how you can help push the concept of

Posted by: dbaker00711281944 | February 10, 2009 9:17 AM | Report abuse

jmb2, Presumably the comment is looking forward to the vote on the reconciled conference bill and the potential fight against cloture on it.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | February 10, 2009 9:14 AM | Report abuse

No, it's not 60 votes to pass a bill. It's 60 votes to end debate (ie to break a filibuster). Have we already forgotten the many times Cheney had to come over to break a tie?

I would expect a truly principled Senator in the minority to vote for cloture when the debate was finished, and then vote his/her conscience on the actual bill.

We may not get 61 votes for the bill if we don't need to get Uncle Ted out of bed.

Posted by: mikeinmidland | February 10, 2009 9:13 AM | Report abuse

I am not so sure that the Republicans are really sitting so pretty. Going into 2010 I see seven seats that they can lose. I see the Republicans losing seats in Missouri, Florida, Ohio, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Iowa. I can see Collins and Snow becoming Democrats as the Republican Party rolls to the right. I think this strategy by the Republican Party as being pretty flawed. Can you remember the Wig Party? Actually the Republican Party grew out of the ashes of the Wig Party.

Posted by: bradcpa | February 10, 2009 8:57 AM | Report abuse

it's still 60.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | February 10, 2009 8:55 AM | Report abuse

i love President Obama.
He's always good for a beer.
Simply wonderful!

Well, the vote should just be lovely today. Check the weapons at the door please.
-retiring repulsives won't vote for it - pry it from their cold, retired, dead hands.

The odds are rough.
"Of the 41 Republican senators, just 10 sit in states that were carried by Obama in the 2008 election."
Then, it has to go back to the house.

One stat is sticking with me. President Obama promises 3 to 4 million jobs (over 2 years is it??) CNN broke it down. That's 150,000 a month.
150,000 jobs have to be created per month. In the USA. Now, let's see...how many states do we have? Do the math.
It's a big reach. A big reach.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | February 10, 2009 8:52 AM | Report abuse

What am I missing? At this point, aren't 50 votes enough to pass the bill, as opposed to the 60 required to end a filibuster? Or is there another procedural vote?

Posted by: jmb2 | February 10, 2009 8:51 AM | Report abuse




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



... coordinated multi-agency "action programs of personal destruction" manned by security/intel agents, local police nationwide, and citizen vigilantes fronted by government-funded community policing and anti-terrorism programs.


WHAT IS THE U.S. TREASURY DEPARTMENT ROLE in these programs -- and has the IRS been used to decimate family finances of wrongly "targeted" American citizens? Are you investigating?

What Sen. Leahy knows, Team Obama must IMMEDIATELY confront -- because the victims continue to suffer.








Posted by: scrivener50 | February 10, 2009 8:41 AM | Report abuse

Did anyone else catch the olive branch that Obama threw out to the the GOP on entitlement reform. Changing Social Security and Medicare is the GOP's dream and in his press conference last night Obama made a point to talk about entitlement reform as something that he would like to work with the GOP on. I took that as a test balloon for some of those senators that may be wavering on the stimulus package. President Obama basically said "If you guys stick with me on this then we can sit down and work on the 800 pound gorilla in a year or so." At least that was my take.

Posted by: AndyR3 | February 10, 2009 8:38 AM | Report abuse

Why does anyone care what Republicans think?

There is no bigot angle on this.

They have no way to get back on the national political scene (do you really think anyone is going to donate $$$ to Michael Steel's RNC?).

All they want is more tax cuts for the already rich. I, for example, will immediately use money to have my near and dear relations buy their "first house", pocketing the big tax break the Republicans gave me. Even so, I despise them and I can not figure out why a party so electorally dead gets to live and breathe in American politics right now.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 10, 2009 8:29 AM | Report abuse

Chris, If as you suggest, many Rs are beyond persuasion because they are not facing election in 2010 OR because they are in safe seats OR because they are retiring, then you have implied two possibilities.

1] Even if their constituents support the bill, these Rs can vote their consciences without fear; or

2] Even if their constituents support the bill, these R can vote in lockstep with the leadership without fear.

1] is greatly more probable than 2]. When there is no electoral fear, history tells us that most Senators vote without regard to party discipline but only according to their beliefs.

The important lesson here is that most R Senators actually buy into the mantra of supply side economics even when supply is long and demand is short; most of them believe in income tax cuts even when there are no net incomes to tax. I share Pearlstein's amazement that conservative economists have no sway with so many R politicians.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | February 10, 2009 8:09 AM | Report abuse

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