Commentary Magazine


Making Friends and Influencing People

Those wacky Democrats — just when you think they might be learning something they revert to form. In the Senate, George Voinovich has had enough of the non-stimulus bill and Susan Collins isn’t pleased. (Olympia Snowe and Arlen Specter have not grasped the essential negotiating point here: voting “no” now is the only leverage they have to keep the pressure on for a revised bill.)

Meanwhile, Nancy Pelosi keeps up her appeal as the least statesman-like Speaker since, well, since forever. The latest pearl of wisdom from Pelosi who is miffed her pork-a-thon might get trimmed:

Washington seems consumed in the process argument of bipartisanship, when the rest of the country says they need this bill.

Yeah, shut up, Sens. Snowe et. al and get this done! You wonder if that is really Karl Rove in  disguise.

Perhaps this bill will get done. (I am told Reid has put the Senate in recess until 6:30 p.m. to consider the bill.) Maybe the Democrats will get a few Republicans to go along. But I think we can safely assume they haven’t carved out a broad swath of territory in the center of the political spectrum or impressed anyone with the new spirit of bipartisanship. They certainly haven’t made many Republican allies.

UPDATE: From a Capitol Hill source: “The real number I’m told is $827 billion, more than the House-passed bill, because the amendments adding money to the bill that were passed earlier are supposed to be retained.  [Senators] McConnell and McCain said on the floor this is going to cost $1.1 trillion when you add in the $348 billion in interest payments.” The Democrats have two votes –Sen. Specter (whose vote may trigger a primary challenge) and Collins. Sen. Snowe has been quiet but is the third possible vote. Minority Leader McConnell has released a statement which reads in part:

“According to the figures I’ve been given, the House bill is about $820 billion. The Senate bill, under the compromise, we believe, would be about $827 billion. Bear in mind the interest costs on either of those proposals would be $348 billion. So we’re really talking about a $1.1 trillion pending measure. A $1.1 trillion spending measure. We’re looking at a $1 trillion deficit for this fiscal year.

[.  .   .]
Now, if most Republicans were convinced that this would work, there might be a greater willingness to support it. But all the historical evidence suggests that it’s highly unlikely to work.  And so, you have to balance the likelihood of success versus the crushing debt that we’re levying on the backs of our children, our grandchildren, and, yes, their children. And the need to finance all of this debt which many suspect would lead to ever higher and higher interest rates which could create a new round of problems for our economy. So let me just sum it up by saying no action is not what any of my Republican colleagues are advocating.  But most of us are deeply skeptical that this will work. And that level of skepticism leads us to believe that this course of action should not be chosen. We had an opportunity to do this in a truly bipartisan basis and the President said originally he had hoped to get 80 votes. It appears that, the way this has developed, there will be some bipartisan support, but not a lot.  And it’s not likely, in the judgment of most of us, to produce the result that we all desire.  So, I will not be in a position to recommend support for this product as it has developed in spite, again, of the best efforts of those who worked on the compromise. I commend them for their willingness to try to work this out. It seems to me that it falls far short of the kind of measure that we should be passing.”