Can the Senate GOP Unite In Opposition?

Yesterday, President Barack Obama made overtures again to Senate Republicans, seeking their support for his massive economic “stimulus” package that will grow government and not help ailing companies and workers.  As the Senate began to debate the Democrats’ massive omnibus spending bill they’re attempting to disguise as a stimulus package, Obama also called Democratic congressional leadership to the White House for a meeting last night to discuss what, if any, concessions they could make to Republicans.  

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the President is open to changes on his unprecedented spending bill, but “he’s satisfied that we have the basis of a proposal that will save or create 3 million to 4 million jobs and that the American people can be confident about.”

Alarm bells should be sounding loudly at this point for Senate Republicans as Democrats seek political cover for their colossal spending bill.  

“What we can’t do is let various modest differences get in the way of the overall package moving forward swiftly,” Obama said yesterday.  Modest differences?  Modest?

On Monday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell publicly addressed a few of the multitude of concerns Republicans have with the $1.2 trillion spending bill.

“The way to build this package is indeed to do it on a bi-partisan basis, which doesn’t mean just talking to us but including ideas that we think would work,” McConnell said.  “We need to make sure that we’re not borrowing money to spend on projects that are not going to stimulate the economy. … Republicans believe that you must fix the main problem first and that’s housing.  That’s where this all began.”

McConnell said Republicans are working on a plan for a fixed mortgage rate of around 4% that they believe would help with mortgage relief as well as stimulate home sales.  The details of the developing plan were not yet available.  Republicans are also proposing targeted tax cuts for the two lowest tax brackets reducing the 10% tax rate to 5% and the 15% tax rate to 10%.  These tax cuts would include all households making up to $65,000 per year.

In response to a question of whether Republicans would require reductions in spending as part of a compromise, McConnell said, “There is an attempt underway here to use this bill to increase permanent spending…Most of my members believe that we could pass a very robust stimulus for less than the amount currently before us.  We’ve been throwing figures around like it was paper money.  Before we even do this we’re already looking at an over $1 trillion deficit for this year.  We all agree that we need to do something, but it’s not like we should act like the amount is completely irrelevant. …To put a trillion dollars into context, if you started spending when Jesus was born and you were spending a million dollars a day, you still would not have spent a trillion dollars.  A trillion dollars is a lot of money.”

In response to a question about support for the bill from both sides of the aisle, McConnell said, “There is considerable unrest — and we’re hearing it — considerable Democratic senatorial unrest with this package.  Considerable.  I think that there is a bi-partisan feeling that this is not the way to get the economy moving.”

McConnell is saying some of the right things, yet especially where the Senate is concerned, saying and doing are historically two quite different things.  The bill as currently proposed by Congressional Democrats has nothing to do with getting us out of the recession.  It is entirely a pork-barrel spending spree paying off decades of liberal constituency support.  According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget office, less than 25% is remotely related to anything that could be considered as “stimulus.”

Obama has a very small window of time to turn this economic crisis around.  If his spending bill passes without Republican support, the further economic downturn it will cause probably by mid-summer will become the Obama Recession.  He will own it.  A hybrid of the Democrat spending spree combined with a watered-down version of Republican free market proposals will accomplish the same downturn — but it will allow Democrats to pay off their constituencies and strengthen their political allies with elements like the $4.2 billion allotted to community organizing groups such as ACORN for “community stabilization.”  A weak hybrid is exactly the political cover Obama and congressional Democrats seek in order to blame the failure of their embrace of Keynesian socialist economic policy on Republicans.  

Holder Confirmed by the Senate

The full Senate voted 75-21 in favor of the confirmation of Eric Holder as the Attorney General of the United States.  Holder’s nomination outraged many, as he was instrumental as a deputy attorney general for the Clinton administration in securing a pardon for international fugitive Marc Rich.  Holder was also at the center of the granting of clemency for Puerto Rican FALN terrorists responsible for murders, bombings, and robberies in the United States.  At his confirmation hearing, Holder said he thought it “reasonable” that then President Clinton would grant clemency for these terrorists — who had not themselves petitioned for clemency — at a time when former First Lady Hillary Clinton was courting the Puerto Rican vote in her initial run for the Senate seat from New York.

Those voting in favor of the nomination:

Akaka (D-HI)
Alexander (R-TN)
Baucus (D-MT)
Bayh (D-IN)
Bennet (D-CO)
Bennett (R-UT)
Bingaman (D-NM)
Bond (R-MO)
Boxer (D-CA)
Brown (D-OH)
Burris (D-IL)
Byrd (D-WV)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Cardin (D-MD)
Carper (D-DE)
Casey (D-PA)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Collins (R-ME)
Conrad (D-ND)
Corker (R-TN)
Dodd (D-CT)
Dorgan (D-ND)
Durbin (D-IL)
Feingold (D-WI)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Gillibrand (D-NY)
Graham (R-SC)
Grassley (R-IA)
Gregg (R-NH)
Hagan (D-NC)
Harkin (D-IA)
Hatch (R-UT)
Inouye (D-HI)
Isakson (R-GA)
Johnson (D-SD)
Kaufman (D-DE)
Kerry (D-MA)
Klobuchar (D-MN)
Kohl (D-WI)
Kyl (R-AZ)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Leahy (D-VT)
Levin (D-MI)
Lieberman (ID-CT)
Lincoln (D-AR)
Lugar (R-IN)
McCain (R-AZ)
McCaskill (D-MO)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Merkley (D-OR)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Murray (D-WA)
Nelson (D-FL)
Nelson (D-NE)
Pryor (D-AR)
Reed (D-RI)
Reid (D-NV)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Sanders (I-VT)
Schumer (D-NY)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shaheen (D-NH)
Snowe (R-ME)
Specter (R-PA)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Tester (D-MT)
Udall (D-CO)
Udall (D-NM)
Voinovich (R-OH)
Warner (D-VA)
Webb (D-VA)
Whitehouse (D-RI)
Wyden (D-OR)

Those opposed to the nomination:

Barrasso (R-WY)
Brownback (R-KS)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burr (R-NC)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Crapo (R-ID)
DeMint (R-SC)
Ensign (R-NV)
Enzi (R-WY)
Hutchison (R-TX)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Johanns (R-NE)
McConnell (R-KY)
Risch (R-ID)
Roberts (R-KS)
Shelby (R-AL)
Thune (R-SD)
Vitter (R-LA)
Wicker (R-MS)

Not Voting:

Begich (D-AK)
Kennedy (D-MA)
Martinez (R-FL)