Economy Alarm: Will Dems Support Obama's Politically Motivated Spending Request?

June 15, 2010

Will Dems Support Obama’s Politically Motivated Spending Request?
Unexpected Letter Creates Chaos in House Democratic Caucus

Democrats Once Promised to Restore Fiscal Discipline and Tame Exploding Deficits

“With the recovery package, we not only created jobs – about 2 million saved or created with more being rolled out – but pulled us back from the brink of even deeper recession. In his [President Obama’s] budget, which we passed one hundred days after his swearing-in, he had a blueprint for how we go into the future, create jobs, stabilize the economy [and] do so as we reduce the deficit – [it’s] very central to everything we do – reduce the deficit.” (Matt Cover, “Pelosi Says Jobs ‘Permeated’ Congressional Actions in Year of 10 Percent Unemployment,”, 1/25/2010)

“The only thing certain is that Obama is on track to boost a federal debt that stands at $10.7 trillion. Clearly mindful of that, Obama said: ‘We will need to do everything in the short term to get our economy moving again’ as well as ‘begin restoring fiscal discipline and taming our exploding deficits over the long term.’” (“Obama: Stimulus lets Americans claim destiny,” Associated Press, 2/17/2009)

Credibility Crash: Will House Dems Once Again Toe the Party Line at Taxpayers’ Expense?

President Barack Obama’s latest push for a $50 billion local aid package is sparking a backlash from Hill Democrats who say they got no notice of the plan and have no means to pay for it — a clash that puts on full display a growing lack of coordination between the White House and Congress.

In an unusually timed letter that went out Saturday night, Obama urged Congressional leaders in both parties to pass a sweeping emergency aid package — $23 billion to stem teacher layoffs and $25 billion for state Medicaid assistance — to help the economy get back on track, saying it is “a critical juncture in our nation’s recovery.”

But aides to several leading House and Senate Democrats are criticizing the White House’s handling of the $50 billion request — not on policy grounds, but because the administration didn’t coordinate with them first and seemed to have hastily thrown the plan together with no follow-through.

“They are not doing themselves any good by not reaching out and trying to coordinate a unified push with Congress on something of this importance,” a House Democratic leadership aide said.

The aide grumbled that the move is just another example of the White House taking the House for granted and said Obama can no longer rely on Democrats approving his proposals without a more thoughtful messaging strategy, given the shift in Members’ psyche, concerns about the deficit and fears about losses in November.

“They need to be a little bit more sensitive to these concerns that House Democrats have expressed,” said the aide, who speculated that the White House has no game plan beyond sending out its letter. “They need to think more than just a news cycle ahead to figure out how you are going to package these things, so that when you roll them out there is a significant echo chamber to support it.”

“I’m not sure why the [expletive] they didn’t push for this on the supplemental instead of leaving us hanging and then dumping a [expletive] letter on a Saturday night. … There are Democrats who are going to be [expletive],” vented the aide.

The aide speculated that Obama’s sudden push to help teachers may be about “making nice with the unions” after Sen. Blanche Lincoln’s (D-Ark.) primary win last week. Organized labor spent $10 million to try to help Lt. Gov. Bill Halter topple Lincoln, who had Obama’s backing. Lincoln’s victory sparked sniping between the White House and labor leaders about their decision to throw that kind of money to try to take out an administration-backed candidate. (Jennifer Bendery and Steven T. Dennis, “Intraparty Squabble Erupts on Spending,” Roll Call, 6/15/2010)

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