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Now It Gets Interesting

Well, the Nancy Pelosi economic stimulus plan turned out to be a bust. Robert J.Samuelson explains:

The decision by Obama and Democratic congressional leaders to load the stimulus with so many partisan projects is politically shrewd and economically suspect. The president’s claims of bipartisanship were mostly a sham, as he skillfully maneuvered Republicans into a no-win position: Either support a Democratic program, or oppose it — and seem passive and uncaring… Obama’s political strategy fails to address adequately the economy’s present needs while also worsening the long-term budget outlook. Some of his “temporary” spending increases in practice will almost certainly become permanent. There were tough choices to be made — and Obama ducked them.

But now it gets interesting. Will the President take charge –is he capable of doing so? The MSM is clearly nervous, as Nancy Gibbs of Time explained:

I can’t help but wonder at the gap between the aggressively sensible things Obama is saying and the passive way that he is acting. And you get a sense that a lot of people in the audience, the experts and economists as well as the worried working classes, are starting to wonder as well.

President Obama is meeting with Congressional Democrats Monday afternoon. So now he needs to break the news to them: the bill stinks and even if they could pass it, it won’t work to help the country’s short-term economic prospects. “But they can pass it; all that spending can get through,” Nancy Pelosi and crew will tell the President. (You can imagine their eyes widening and their voices becoming thick with emotion.) Don’t be silly — we won!

Well, then we will see just how assertive the President can be and how effective Rahm Emanuel is in corralling his former colleagues. And we will get a glimpse of Harry Reid’s statesmanship. Then we will see if they can put the spending genie back in the bottle. I tend to think they will fake it — try some cosmetic changes, remove some more egregious elements, and try to jam it through again. But Republicans, at least in the House, learned an important lesson last week: political courage, steady tone, and a principled stand can win praise. The President’s personal popularity does not earn him a pass with the American people.

So it remains to be seen just how much congressional Democrats will budge. It will have to be quite a bit to garner that coveted bipartisan support.



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