early and often

Obama’s Rescue Plan Still Not Passed One Day Later

Barack Obama probably thought he could quickly whisk his economic rescue plan through Congress with a little ominous language and the weight of his own stratospheric popularity. “I’m Barack Obama,” he may have said to himself as he looked in the mirror yesterday before vaguely outlining his plan in a major speech. “Nobody will second-guess the effectiveness of my business and payroll tax breaks.” But he was wrong. His own Democratic colleagues in the Senate are quibbling with the plan, especially those tax breaks, even after Obama warned them they had merely seconds left to spare before it would be too late. Apparently, Congress feels some misguided responsibility to make sure legislation works before passing it.

• Ben Pershing warns not to “mistake the natural friction of the legislative process for some sort of calamitous intraparty break. There is not and never was any realistic way that a package this big and complicated was going to make everyone happy.” The Democrats will need Republicans onboard for political cover if things go awry, which “means Democrats are going to have to swallow some elements they’d rather not.” [Rundown/WP]

• Steve Benen concurs that “there’s nothing wrong with a collaborative process in which an administration and leading lawmakers engage in some back-and-forth.” [Political Animal/Washington Monthly]

• David Rodgers writes that “at this stage Democrats are in too many different places to proceed quickly despite a common belief that action is needed.” [Politico]

• George Stephanopolous groups lawmakers’ concerns into three main questions: “Can the money get out very, very quickly? Will the spending programs really be temporary? Can this package be targeted to create the most jobs per dollar to get the most bang for the buck?” [George’s Bottom Line/ABC News]

• Craig Crawford believes that “if Obama backs down, things could unravel on other fronts,” as happened to the last two Democratic presidents, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, who “lost early battles with fellow party members on the Hill.” Obama “needs to show his own party who’s boss.” [CQ Politics]

• John Dickerson says that in his speech yesterday, Obama “was attempting to pressure members of Congress to move quickly,” and, despite the intra-party dissent, “Congress appears to have gotten the message. Both Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have promised to keep Congress in session through its February recess if the stimulus package isn’t completed.” [Slate]

E.J. Dionne Jr. says Obama may face “a conflict between getting his package passed fast and having it contain the most effective proposals.” So far, though, it’s impressive that he’s “managed to maneuver around potential roadblocks rather than blast through them, even as he proposes a reorientation of our politics.” [National Review]

• “Nobel Peace Prize winner” Paul Krugman, finally, is disappointed that Obama’s plan is “nowhere near big enough.” It may be “limited by fear of debt,” or “by a lack of spending opportunities,” or “political caution,” such as the desire to “to win Republican votes in Congress” with its “large business tax cuts.” [NYT]

Obama’s Rescue Plan Still Not Passed One Day Later