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Liberal Groups Assert Role In Stimulus Fight

Sens. Dick Lugar (Ind.) and Kit Bond (Mo.) are the targets of new ads from a handful of liberal interest groups.

A cadre of liberal interest groups is ramping up its persuasion efforts on the economic stimulus package proposed by President Obama, running television and radio ads in 12 states in an attempt to convince wavering Republican senators to back the bill.

The groups -- led by Americans United for Change,, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the Service Employees International Union -- is expanding an ad buy announced last week to include television ads targeted at Sens. Kit Bond (Mo.) and Richard Lugar (Ind.) and radio commercials aimed at Sens. Jim Bunning (Ky.), Richard Burr (N.C.), and Mel Martinez (Fla.).

The new flight of ads will hit the airwaves on Tuesday and the entire slate of commercials will cost around $600,000, according to Americans United president Brad Woodhouse.

"House Republicans decided to listen to Rush Limbaugh and put partisan politics ahead of getting people back to work as the Obama plan would do," said Woodhouse. "We are putting senators on notice not to follow Limbaugh off the cliff into the political abyss but to support the Obama jobs plan instead."

The prominent role that outside groups are playing in the selling of Obama's economic stimulus plan is a marked contrast to the campaign when the former Illinois senator went out of his way to cut off funding for these sorts of organizations -- in hopes of keeping his messaging tightly controlled by his political inner circle.

It remains to be seen whether Obama will allow these sorts of groups to grow and prosper as advocates for his agenda or whether he will use his own massive grassroots machine as the principal message driver of his legislative efforts.

Obama's decision to install Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine at the head of the Democratic National Committee and to put "Organizing for America" -- his campaign apparatus -- under the umbrella of the DNC were widely interpreted as evidence that the president wanted to keep his messaging operation in the hands of a small group of political insiders.

And, Organizing for America recently sent out an email to its list (13 million names strong) asking them to help put together "economic recovery house meetings" to help sell the proposal at the neighborhood level.

The debate over whether there is a place for outside groups in the Obama messaging operation is not an insignificant one.

Looked at one way, if Obama decides that he and his related groups can handle the selling of his message on their own it allows him to maintain his "brand," according to Democratic lobbyist Steve Elmendorf. "The branding is important and the branding is Obama," he said.

Seen from the other side, however, Obama would be effectively shunting the universe of outside groups to the side in favor of building his own political and grassroots organization that may well stretch the traditional role of the DNC.

"It begs the question of the partisanship of his agenda," said Hillary Rosen, the former head of the Recording Industry Association of America. "Can the DNC support Republican members who support the agenda?"

To date, the pressuring of those members is coming from these outside groups who are funding ads against moderate GOPers like Maine Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins as well as Sens. Arlen Specter (Pa.) and George Voinovich (Ohio).

It's possible that Obama will continue in this vein -- using Organizing for America to play good cop (rallying people to support his agenda) while allowing outside groups like Americans United and to play bad cop and hit GOP members for their opposition to his priorities.

Remember that much of Obama's strength as a politician is wrapped up in the idea that he is above politics -- a post-partisan prophet who is bringing much-needed change to Washington.

Everything he has done to date -- meetings with Capitol Hill Republicans, a bipartisan Super Bowl party at the White House -- is aimed at reinforcing that message.

But, when the rubber hits the road (and it almost certainly will) on the passage of Obama's agenda who will be the partisan enforcer that every president needs? Can Obama do it himself or will these outside groups, who have been surprisingly active to date, be the ones who take on that responsibility?

By Chris Cillizza  |  February 2, 2009; 1:40 PM ET
Categories:  Democratic Party , White House  
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all these liberal groups care about is getting a piece of the pie and the tax payer will have to pay for it. obama and other liberal's do not care about the american family all they care about is there special interest's. I sure hope and pray the majority of the american people will wise up to this fact before these liberal's destroy our nation. And on another note it was criminal of obama to authorise the use of tax payer money to fund over sea's abortion. You people need to stand up against this man and not allow him yo use our money for immoral things

Posted by: cwdfreedom | February 3, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

The stimulus will pass however, if the GOP Republicans try to block this they are dead. America is hurting now, the Republicans are STUPID for trying to block the stimulus. Democrats will gain all the approval ratings, credit and responsibility for this. Again Republicans are STUPID for trying to block this, it will hurt them dearly come election 2010.

Posted by: mattadamsdietmanager1014 | February 3, 2009 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Politicians need to stop acting like prize fighters. This is not a boxing match.

Partisan politics is part of the reason we're in this mess.

We didn't send our elected officials to Congress to bicker, we sent them there to work collaboratively together to do what's best for our nation.

It's not about what party is right or wrong, it's not about who can flex the biggest muscle. it's about creating and saving peoples jobs, homes, and the American way of life. It's time for our elected officials to act like intelligent adults and to work together cooperatively. Their wasting valuable time and energy in partisanship and not spending enough time on working on a soluiton.

Posted by: Nevadaandy | February 3, 2009 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Too bad increasing the G in the GDP equation noted so astutely doesn't directly increase GDP. E is by far the most important measure of output and won't increase because of this bill. Nor will I or C. It's not arithmetic it's more like calculus. G (government spending is a share of GDP, but doesn't count towards production and is dependent on revenue produced in the real economy).

Posted by: star_key2 | February 3, 2009 9:24 AM | Report abuse

I think of politicians as illusionists, talking over here while their hands are busy over there.

In that frame of thought it is possible that President Obama said holy moly(yes because he wouldn't curse)look at what Pelosi sent does this pig get made pretty.

I will send it over to the Senate after meeting with very important members of the Republican minority. I tell them publicly I am supporting the bill as is. Privately, I would like you, the minority, to pick out the junk from the bill.

In the end, the bill is passed, the President is an effective leader, Republicans have an effective voice in its passage, salvaging their egos.

The bill is implemented, movement begins, and the minority party starts moving to become a loyal opposition as oppossed to unreasoned opposition.

I truly believe this President is a chess player who is a few moves ahead of most of his competition.

Posted by: Thatsnuts | February 3, 2009 7:43 AM | Report abuse

I don't understand why either side isn't hoopin and hollering about what the banks are doing with the first 800 billion? Especially the "free market capitalism cures all" Republicans. Their argument to "put off" long term solutions like infrastructure and education spending in favor of "immediate" tax cuts for the private sector is yet another attempt at spreading their "trickle down" religion. Well, if you know the LONG, RIGHT PATH TO RECOVERY shouldn't you start on it right away?

Washington seems to be behaving like its business as usual, bickering about the shuffleboard match while the whole ship goes down. Continue behaving this way and there will only be one thing left to do......

Learn Chinese: "Che Che" Thank You.

Posted by: StoptheSpin | February 3, 2009 2:26 AM | Report abuse


Nothing makes me happier than seeing rightwing lunatic fringers like yourself pretending like you weren't cheerleading for BushCo/Republican policies the last eight years.

I don't care what you call yourself now, I call you "loser" because you lost the last two elctions by a landslide.

The people have spoken loud and clear so grab some bench, leapin!

Posted by: DrainYou | February 2, 2009 9:28 PM | Report abuse

"I don't think the question is whether or not the Republicans want to pass a stimulus package, the question is what shape that package should take. There is legitimate room for debate on this, especially since we are headed into completely untested waters. If this bill passes the Senate the way it passed the House it will be an abject failure of leadership on the part of Obama and the Senate Democrats. Republicans will vote yes on this bill if it swings their way to some degree. Ideally there would be no votes on the extremes of both parties."

I might be wrong about this, but it seems to be that House Republicans were unwilling to vote for anything other than a 100% tax cut bill. Obama did make some concessions.

And let's not be so quick to call the entire bipartisan exercise a failure after one setback. Obama (as usual) seems to be the only one to keep a cool head about this. Let's keep working at bipartisanship. It won't happen easily. We've got a good chance to break this cycle of the dominant party to just steamroll the minority. Given the huge majorities that Obama has, its too easy to just ride those majorities, but things will be better in the long run if we at least try to give the minority some ownership in what the government does. It won't always work and the success will definitely be scarce this early in the Obama administration, but that doesn't mean its not a worthwhile goal that we should just give up on. No one promised that one sitdown with Republicans will change anything. It will take month at least.

Posted by: DDAWD | February 2, 2009 6:52 PM | Report abuse

DrainYou -

You assume I am a Rep. No I'm independent and consider Bush a financial socialist. He certainly wasn't a conservative in spending. I don't quite understand the logic that if Bush was a credit card abuser that you multiply what he did by 10 and call that good policy for America. However, I do think think that this kind of spending leads to god. (the Great Obama Depression).

Posted by: leapin | February 2, 2009 5:33 PM | Report abuse


So two guys (Dodd and Frank) who were in the minority for most of the last eight years are (in the small brain of Repug minions) responsible for the economic crash?!?!

HAHAHA!!!...It's no wonder you guys can't win elections anyomore.

Let me get this straight. Republicans, who oversaw one of the largest expansions in government spending in history are now concerned about spending? According to the CBO, total government outlays under Bush and the Republican controlled Congress from 2001 - 2006 increased from $1.8 trillion to $2.4 trillion -- that's an increase of 33%.

At the same time -- again under Republican rule from 2001 to 2006 -- the total debt outstanding increased from $5,807,463,412,200.06 at the end of fiscal 2001

To $8,506,973,899,215.23.

And now Republicans who helped to oversee this are complaining about spending? Excuse me?

A note to leapin/Republican idiots. The equation for GDP is simple. Here it is:

C+I+E+G = GDP.

In case you are confused, those are symbols. Let's explains those symbols for you.

C - consumer spending. This is now in the tank. Personal consumption expenditures are now negative year over year. Retailers just reported a terrible Christmas. In other words -- 70% of our economy is out of order right now.

I - Investment. This has been neutral for awhile. You may be familiar with the housing bubble? (Actually, you probably just became aware of it because you were probably saying the economy was sound until recently). Well - there was a housing bubble and it has crashed. As a result, total investment has been weak for some time now.

E = net exports. The US runs a mammoth trade deficit, so this ones out as well.

That leaves G -- as in government spending -- to pull us out of this mess. Unless of course you like depressions you dolts.

Posted by: DrainYou | February 2, 2009 5:25 PM | Report abuse

A more immediate stimulus would be obtainable through private enterprise. Layoffs in the government sector, thru declining tax revenue because of tax cuts, etc., are preferable to layoffs in the private sector. The reduction in the size of government could be a big benefit of the depression.

Posted by: leapin | February 2, 2009 5:12 PM | Report abuse

DrainYou –
I agree what Frank and Dodd accomplished with subprime etc. lit the economy on fire. How come the arsonists also get to be the firemen?

Posted by: leapin | February 2, 2009 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Liberal groups should figure something out -- (as well as Hollywood and Intelligentsia Types) -- whether you vote for Repubs or Dems, the same guys pull the puppets strings --- if you aren't bold enough to support liberal third party candidates, then you aren't really a liberal or free thinker or a pragmatist. You are most likely just wasting your money and ink. I thought it was funny that old moveon's Gen. Betrayus was at the Super Bowl coin flip -- guess Obama approved of him, now the he's not under Cheney's thumb. The modern liberal is something of an Political Agnostic rather than the bolder or more honest Political Atheist.

Posted by: newbeeboy | February 2, 2009 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Hey Republicans ...YOU Did This... Remember?¤t=San_Diego_house_on_fire.jpg

There are different theories on parenting. Especially when it comes to little children throwing tantrums. Especially when it comes to little children throwing the middle of a burning house.

You lit the house (economy) on fire. And then you threw gasoline on it.

And now you are standing over the blaze with more buckets of (tax cuts for the rich) gasoline.

A quiet little reminder for our esteemed Republican colleagues in the House and Senate....


And here is a hint, REAL PEOPLE are suffering....because of you.

Throwing more tax cuts for the rich fuel on it won't put it out. Cutting funds for contraception won't put it out. And stamping your widdle feets and obstructing every move that the people who DIDN'T light the fire are making to put YOUR fire out...won't put it out.

There are two cliches at war here, guess which one will win out in the end:

Give a mouse a cookie, and he will just want a glass of milk.
Give them enough rope and they will hang themselves.

NO ONE, but you, has forgotten how we got to this two wars, our standing in the world damaged nearly beyond repair and standing in the flaming soon to be ruins of what used to be our economy. No one has forgotten that it was you who brought us to this point. Or that you have gotten us to this point while laughing at, mocking, denigrating and calling people traitors....the same people who now have to clean up the steaming pile of elephant poop that YOU deposited in the middle of the living room...of our burning house.

The time when you could blame all of your mistakes on the Dems and have the public and the pundits buy it is over. No one is buying it. Ok, I'm wrong, the stupidest factions of the corporate media and the punditocracy are still buying it....because they helped you light the fire.

Posted by: DrainYou | February 2, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse

This is about Judd Gregg. Tried to sign in when you were on that subject, but couldn't. Anyway, the key to whether Gregg will be a real force, or just a facade for Obama will be how much say he has in choosing the rest of the senior staff that requires Senate confirmation; I.e., deputy secretary, assistant secretaries for various units, or not. If not, then he is just a figurehead. And, I doubt if he will enjoy the kind of clout with the Senate that many think he will.

Posted by: TheLip | February 2, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse


Tried to post the details of a threat of bodily harm that resulted from a weekend post to a WaPo comments section.

(Story was about President Obama's security.)

Got the "held for blog owner" message when I tried to post it here. Seriously doubt it was generated by WaPo.

Anyone who posts here should care about this. The full story is posted on the ACLU web site, under "Free Speech." Here is the link (that is, if Big Brother lets this post go through):

OR (if link is corrupted): (reference "free speech" page, under post about "internet filters")

Posted by: scrivener50 | February 2, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

I don't think the question is whether or not the Republicans want to pass a stimulus package, the question is what shape that package should take. There is legitimate room for debate on this, especially since we are headed into completely untested waters. If this bill passes the Senate the way it passed the House it will be an abject failure of leadership on the part of Obama and the Senate Democrats. Republicans will vote yes on this bill if it swings their way to some degree. Ideally there would be no votes on the extremes of both parties.

Posted by: political_junkie1 | February 2, 2009 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Great because certain Republicans will need to support this because their states are hurting badly. Pennyslyvania and Maine with high unemployment rates need a stimulus. If these Republicans decide not to vote for it they can kiss reelection in 2010 goodbye.

Posted by: mattadamsdietmanager1014 | February 2, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

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