President Obama listened to Republican gripes about his stimulus package during a meeting with congressional leaders Friday morning - but he also left no doubt about who's in charge of these negotiations. "I won," Obama noted matter-of-factly, according to sources familiar with the conversation.
I am quite sure there are folks who will consider such a response "arrogant", but it isn't. It is a statement of fact. Obama won, in part because people trusted that he was calm enough, smart enough, and willing to do what was necessary to carry us through our current troubles.
The following, from unnamed "sources" (my guess is Boehner, but that is, again, just a guess), is a masterful demonstration of why the Republicans are no longer in power.
The exchange arose as top House and Senate Republicans expressed concern to the president about the amount of spending in the package. They also raised red flags about a refundable tax credit that returns money to those who don’t pay income taxes, the sources said.
“We expressed our concerns about some of the spending that’s being proposed in the House bill,” House Minority Leader John Boehner said after meeting with Obama.
“How can you spend hundreds of millions of dollars on contraceptives?” Boehner asked. “How does that stimulate the economy?”
Boehner said congressional Republicans are also concerned about the size of the package.
“Government can’t solve this problem,” he said.
The first part refers to this, apparently.
One of the Bush administration's stated objections to the Senate package was language that would reverse a provision in the 2006 Deficit Reduction Act (PL 109-171) that created a disincentive for pharmaceutical companies to provide large discounts on some drugs to family planning clinics and university health centers (Higa, CQ Today, 9/26). As a result of the Deficit Reduction Act language, the cost of birth control at health centers has risen dramatically. The bill was supported by both Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) (Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 9/26).
In a statement, the White House said the House bill "will not provide short-term stimulus or long-term growth for the economy. ... Instead, the bill would simply increase government spending including self-perpetuating entitlement spending by tens of billions of dollars. If this bill were presented to the president, he would veto the bill" (CQ Today, 9/26).
Yeah, Boehner hit that one on the nose, didn't he . . .
As for the whole "government can't solve the problem" line, well, no one is suggesting it can. Not even President Obama. But, sitting around and doing nothing, and insisting on doing nothing - that's why people go rid of Republicans in the first place.
There's more, following immediately, which I just adore.
Reid said a Congressional Budget Office report that says the stimulus funds won’t be pumped into the economy until 2010 doesn’t provide an accurate picture.
Republicans have used the report to back up their argument against a near $1 trillion package. But Reid said Obama Office of Management and Budget director Peter Orszag told them CBO only analyzed 40 percent of the bill.
By all means block the bill because it will take time to pump all that money in to the economy through expanded government infrastructure spending and the like, delaying the money even further.
The Republicans don't quite get it. Neither do establishment reporters, either, I think, considering the way this story is written.