Obama's concessions on the stimulus bill make no sense (updated)

Just as I’d feared, President Barack Obama is moving toward the Republican position in an effort to pass a “bipartisan” economic stimulus bill.

At the request of the president, the overall price tag will be in the $800 billion range, even though many economists believe we need at least $1 trillion to kick-start the economy.

Also, House Democrats were under pressure to reduce planned spending on mass transit and other infrastructure projects to make room for tax cuts to appease Republicans–even though the tax cut provisions are unlikely to create the jobs we need.

Yesterday Obama personally urged Democrats to remove contraception funding for poor women from the stimulus bill in order to appease Republican critics.

Trouble is, the top two House Republicans have already told their caucus to vote against the stimulus bill when it comes to the floor.

Today Obama met privately with Republican Congressional leaders to discuss the stimulus further. As you’d expect, Republicans keep finding things to complain about, like a few billion dollars for “neighborhood stabilization activities.”

How many more times will the president cave to GOP demands before he realizes that Republicans have already decided to vote against the bill?

He doesn’t need Republican votes to pass this bill.

No matter how many concessions he makes, he won’t get a significant number of Republican votes in favor of the bill.

All he’ll get is a watered-down stimulus bill and a talking point that he tried to work with the other side. Republicans will get the political credit for opposing the stimulus if it turns out to be ineffective.

Obama should stop worrying about bipartisanship and work toward getting Congress to pass the best bill for fixing the economy.

I’m with New York Times columnist Bob Herbert:

When the G.O.P. talks, nobody should listen. Republicans have argued, with the collaboration of much of the media, that they could radically cut taxes while simultaneously balancing the federal budget, when, in fact, big income-tax cuts inevitably lead to big budget deficits. We listened to the G.O.P. and what do we have now? A trillion-dollar-plus deficit and an economy in shambles.

This is the party that preached fiscal discipline and then cut taxes in time of war. This is the party that still wants to put the torch to Social Security and Medicare. This is a party that, given a choice between Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan, would choose Ronald Reagan in a heartbeat.

Why is anyone still listening?

Instead of wasting time meeting with Republicans who are not negotiating with him in good faith, Obama could try to get his Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on board with the administration’s alleged “no lobbyist” policy.

UPDATE: Forgot to mention that last week Obama agreed to delay bankruptcy reform in a fruitless effort to bring over Republicans on the stimulus bill:

Many Democrats, including Obama, have long-supported the strategy of empowering bankruptcy judges to alter the terms of primary mortgages to prevent foreclosures. But White House officials have said they don’t want the bankruptcy provision in the stimulus bill for fear of alienating Republicans, most of whom oppose the change.

Obama should worry more about the substance of legislation and less about whether he can claim a victory for bipartisanship.

SECOND UPDATE: TomP sees the glass half full, arguing that Obama is not compromising further on “core values.”

THIRD UPDATE: As usual, Natasha Chart says it very well:

Some Democrats have fallen prey to the delusion that politics is a gentlemen’s parlor game in which they’re being judged on style, as opposed to a set of deadly serious struggles in which they’re being judged on their results.

It’s a stupid belief that will lead its holders to no good end in the future, just as it has not in the past.

Though likely, long before they suffer any consequence for their foolishness, some young family with crappy jobs, a child or children that they can barely feed already, and no insurance is going to find themselves in a jam this year that these bozos could prevent by funding family planning for low-income households.

  • No More Bailouts

    I contacted Latham, Harkin and Grassley’s office today and urged them to vote against any bill like this.

    This is a scam.

    Condoms? There’s only one thing those damn things are used to stimulate and it ain’t the damn economy.

    • everything is a "bailout" to you

      Government spending on infrastructure projects creates jobs. People earn money and spend it in their communities. This helps the service industries. This is basic economics.

      This is why it’s stupid to cut government spending during a recession.

      The stimulus bill is nothing like the Wall Street bailout.

      • The government's broke

        When the government is broke, government spending of any kind results in more debt, does it not?  

        Where is the money to pay the infrastructure workers supposed to come from?

        And what happens when the bridges are all built and the roads are all paved?  How do we grow the economy after that?

        The solution is to provide incentives for private citizens to risk their own money and start businesses to manufacture or provide a product that people want to buy, providing jobs in the process.

        Let’s face it, even without one Republican vote, Obama could pass his package.  He’s intelligent enough to know that his package will fail and wants the Republicans to go along to shoulder some of the blame when it all goes down in flames.

        Obama and the Dems want to grow the government, not save the economy.  It’s a vote-buying stunt.  

        • deficit spending in a recession

          is a given and always has been, under Democratic and Republican presidents.

          If I had voted for Bush twice, I wouldn’t be complaining about how Democrats “grow the government.”

          Going into debt to build infrastructure that lasts and improves local economies and the quality of life is a lot better than going into debt to make sure Paris Hilton inherits extra billions or that people earning $500,000 a year have more money to sock away in a 401K plan.

          Not all deficit spending is the same. Some projects benefit society and the public interests, while others only benefit a handful of people.

          • Did you see my ballots?

            Who said anything about Paris Hilton and people earning 500 K/year?  I’m talking about small business.  

            Take my small town, for instance.  If one person started a manufacturing business here, creating even a dozen good jobs, it would be a huge boon to our town.

  • Why ask them

    I don’t know why Obama is seeking Republican support.  We had an election and the American people spoke loud and clear.  They don’t beleave in tax cuts for the rich.  The Repubs are still stating the support of more tax cuts.  Just like the medicine man with his magic elixer in the old Western movies.  Cures everything.  The American people gave the Democrats 8 Senate Seats.  30 House Seats.  And gave Obama his job.  That should be a pretty clear signal that we don’t believe in tax cuts for the richest of the rich.

    If the Demos are stupid enough to compromise with the Repubs will the Repubs accept any blame if the economy fails.  No they won’t.

    The Repubs have nothing to offer to get out of this economics mess.  They want to continue the same plan that got us into this problem.  There is no point in reaching across the isle.  Unless it is to choke a Republican.

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