Questions for Tonight
When President Obama takes his argument for an economic stimulus to prime time tonight in his first White House press conference, I hope he delves beneath even his new-and-improved talking points and answers at least some of the following questions. (Some of which I cribbed from my list on Thursday.)
* When it comes to the overall size of the stimulus package, how did you decide what was the right amount? What was too much and what was too little? Was that science or guesswork?
* How did you determine initially that tax cuts should make up 40 percent of the package? And why do you now think a third is OK?
* How did you determine what the right balance is between short-term job stimulus and long-term investment?
* Why do you trust your economic advisers, particularly as quite a few of them are associated with policies that may have exacerbated the current financial crisis? And what do you do when they disagree?
* What if this doesn't work? How soon will you know -- and what will you do then?
* How do you usher in a post-partisan era if the leadership of one party (and arguably both) seems to have no interest any such thing?
* What do you make of the fact that the Republican leadership is redefining its party as one of opposition to your stimulus?
* Wouldn't it have been easier for you to tell Congress exactly what you wanted and then beaten it into submission if it bucked you -- rather than letting it cobble things together?
* What do you say to Republicans who worry this is the return of big government? And would you believe that if you were them?
* What was so bad about renovating the Mall? Why did you buckle on that one, rather than fight for it?
* New York Times columnist and Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman thinks the stimulus plan needs to be considerably bigger, and he also suggests that you start aggressively making the point that those who are standing in the way of your plan are putting the nation’s future at risk. Your response?
* Here's columnist Frank Rich in Sunday's New York Times: "There are simply too many major players in the Obama team who are either alumni of the financial bubble’s insiders’ club or of the somnambulant governmental establishment that presided over the catastrophe." What's your response to the charge that despite your vow to change Washington’s culture, you've already been co-opted by it?
* Your bank rescue plan appears to essentially give taxpayer dollars to the very bank executives whose high-risk, high-profit antics precipitated this mess. Why are you bailing out the people who should be punished? And why aren't you open to nationalizing banks that have, essentially, gone bankrupt on account of their greed?
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