Stimulus Bill Isn’t Doing Much Better in the Senate

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Danny Avital. Photo: Getty Images

When President Obama met with congressional leaders to discuss the stimulus bill yesterday, he "took a blunt tone with the lawmakers, urging them to drop whatever needs to be cut from the bill to gain bipartisan support and to pass Congress soon," according to the Washington Post. That frustration is a reaction to last week's party-line vote on the bill in the House and ongoing criticism, from Republicans as well as Democrats, in the Senate. The public is expressing its doubts as well: A Gallup poll shows that while 75 percent of people want a stimulus bill, about half of those would like to see major changes. Obama will be giving interviews with basically every television network today in an effort to sell the package, but PR is clearly not the only problem, and the bill needs some big tweaks to win over any Republican support.

• George Stephanopoulos reports that a group of centrist Democrats and Republicans are looking to "increase infrastructure spending, do more for housing, and, perhaps, bring down the overall cost to the bill." The changes may "draw at least a handful of Republicans to support the legislation." [George's Bottom Line/ABC News]

• Jim Geraghty says that "the public has the perception that the recovery — wait, I thought it was a stimulus! — bill is full of partisan pet projects because it is full of partisan pet projects." [Campaign Spot/National Review ]

• Robert Samuelson claims there aren't enough "measures that, though lacking in long-term benefits, might help the economy now," like a "$7,500 tax credit for any home buyer in the next year," or "a temporary $1,500 credit for car or truck purchases." [WP]

• Noam Scheiber points out that the CBO has now concluded that "slightly north of 78 percent" of the bill's spending "will pay out over the first two fiscal years," which means "the speed with which it takes effect doesn't appear to be" a legitimate critique. [Plank/New Republic]

• Conor Clarke writes that "a lot of what makes the bill seem more timely — like extending the AMT patch — is really terrible and poorly targeted stimulus." [Atlantic]

• Mike Madden expects "to see amendments stripping out some of the projects the bill funds — money for the National Endowment for the Arts, $1 billion for the 2010 Census, $600 million for the government to buy fuel-efficient cars and other proposals could come under fire." But if enough spending is taken out, "Senate Republicans could even learn to love the price." [Salon]

• Ed Morrissey says that if Democrats pay attention to the poll numbers, they'll "begin cutting the pork out and trying to find political cover among Republicans by getting them involved in drafting a new version." [Hot Air]

• David Freddoso and the Heritage Foundation’s Brian Riedl discuss whether the "stimulus package now proposed is necessary or even helpful." [Corner/National Review]

• Richard Cohen thinks that "what's lacking in the package is precisely what Barack Obama campaigned on: change. The stimulus is mostly more of the same." Especially in education, Obama should tie some of the $100 million in "well-spent" money to reform. [WP]

• Thomas Edsall examines the "growing chorus ... who suggest that the legislation falls far short of Obama's own standards, that it is rooted in the past, that it lacks ingenuity, that it is not sufficiently geared toward innovation, that it contains a raft of special interest tax breaks and subsidies, that huge chunks of cash will be funneled through old bureaucratic pipelines, and that the measure will plunge the country deeper into debt with little to show for it." [HuffPo]

• David Rodgers writes that winning Republican support "will almost certainly require some give on tax cuts and dedicating a greater share of the money to traditional highway, transit and clean water projects." [Politico]