Senate Begins Stimulus Debate

After passing the House with no Republican support,  the $900 billion economic spending package goes to the Senate for debate beginning today.  As more of the guts of this pork-laden legislation continues to be exposed, erosion of public support for the president’s bill is accelerating because the facts show that it’s not an economic stimulus but that the Wall Street Journal called, “A Forty-Year Wish List” of liberal policies.  

In his appearance on CBS’ Face the Nation yesterday, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said that the enormous spending bill could very well go down to defeat.  “I think it may be time … for the president to kind of get a hold of these Democrats in the Senate and the House, who have rather significant majorities, and shake them a little bit and say, ‘Look, let’s do this the right way,’” McConnell said. “I can’t believe that the president isn’t embarrassed about the products that have been produced so far.”

On Fox News Sunday, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Az.), in a joint appearance with Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Il.), was asked if any Republicans would support the bill in the Senate this week.  “I see support around this country eroding,” Kyl said.  “I see support in the Senate eroding.”

When asked if Democrats would stand together to pass the leviathan spending bill, Durbin said that there are some Democrats who are concerned and they would be offering amendments to fix some of their issues and those amendments would pass.  Durbin said that they were “open” to Republican suggestions, and hoped that Republicans could, “… get beyond small issues so they can support this bill.”

“We’re not talking about little things at the margins,” Kyl shot back.  “We’re talking about a trillion dollars here. … When I say start from scratch, what I mean is that the basic approach of this bill, we believe, is wrong.”

According to the latest Fox News/Opinion Dynamics polling data, only 45% of those polled think “Barack Obama’s proposed $825 billion dollar economic recovery plan” will help the economy (the wording low-balled the bill’s estimated cost, neglecting to add the interest estimated by the CBO which brings the total estimated cost to nearly $1.2 trillion).  More Americans think the focus of an economic stimulus plan should be “cutting taxes” (50%) than "increasing government spending on new programs and infrastructure projects” (29%).  The poll of 900 registered voters was conducted from January 27 to January 28 and has a 3-point margin of error.

Instead of offering real solutions for the troubled economy, President Obama was busy last week firmly establishing a style-over-substance trend for his new administration.  In what amounts to a presidential vote of “present,” Obama skirts around the edges in hopes of avoiding responsibility for his spending bill.  He did manage to chagrin his pro-abortion base when public outrage forced House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.) to remove hundreds of millions of dollars in abortion stimulus funding from the spending bill.  Make no mistake: Barack Obama’s White House has firm control over what is contained in the bill.  One word from Obama and the abortion funding was chucked without any fuss from the Speaker.

The President and his Senate cohorts are actively “reaching out” to find a few RINO dupes in the Senate to blame when their embrace of failed Keynesian economic policy turns the corner into outright disaster.  So far, at least, only a small handful of Republican senators appear to be considering wearing the “Kick Me” sign, with Sen. Susan Collins and Sen. Olympia Snowe among the usual suspects.

As a bellwether, I decided to check the press release sections of all Democrat senators’ websites to quantify any trending support (or lack thereof) these folks were offering to their leadership and the new Democrat president.  As of deadline Sunday, only 15 Democrats had expressed support for all or even some part of the legislation in a press release.  

The overwhelming majority (33) of the Democratic Senators’ websites were completely silent on the issue (six are new senators with minimal website activity).  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has not issued one press release about this legislation, pro or con.  There were a plethora of other releases on these websites with five more senators making mention of the stimulus bill without indicating any level of support.  

Robert Byrd (D-WV) has not added a new press release to his site since the year 2007.

The most notable Democrat press release came just Friday from Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), exposing the first real crack in Democrat support.  “I am working with Republicans and Democrats in the Senate to try to redirect the major stimulus bill to boost more job creation spending and trim non-stimulative items,” Nelson said.  “For example, there’s $75 million for smoking cessation, $345 million for Agriculture Department computers and $100 million for Energy Department computer research.  This isn’t about pork, but it may be about sacred cows.”