Liberal Democrats seek to expand stimulus package beyond $1 trillion (looting of Treasury quickens)
Liberal Democrats in the House are lobbying hard to put President-elect Obama’s economic stimulus bill over the trillion-dollar mark.“Some of us are saying we need a stimulus of 1.2 or 1.3 or 1.4 trillion to prevent a depression, rather than just slow our descent into a depression,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.).
The Congressional Progressive Caucus is circulating a letter to Obama among its members, asking for a meeting with him to talk about dramatically expanding the bill. The caucus is also seeking signatures from members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the Asian-Pacific Islander Caucus and the Congressional Black Caucus.But Republicans are balking at the cost of the stimulus as it is, blasting what they see as the government spending the country out of a recession. And Democratic leaders are resisting the calls to make it bigger.
“We face a steep hill to climb after eight years of Bush economic policies that have given us a huge deficit and millions of job losses,” said a Democratic leadership aide. “So any economic recovery package must be large enough to spur immediate and long-lasting job growth and to help the economy grow again, but any plan must also take into account the reality of the fiscal crisis.”
Nadler and his fellow liberals aren’t the only Democrats who think the bill might not be big enough.
House Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) said when he rolled out the $825 billion plan that it “may undershoot the mark” and suggested Congress may have to spend more money to stimulate the economy.But Obey appeared to be talking about another bill at a later date. Nadler doesn’t think that will work.
“People are saying you can do it later. But if this doesn’t fix it, Republicans will say you threw all this money at it and it didn’t work,” Nadler said. “It’s all or nothing. We have to get it right the first time.”
Committees are expected to revise and vote on the bill Wednesday. Obey hopes to get the bill to the floor by Jan. 28 and pass it by Feb. 13.
As it stands, the package has $550 billion in spending on items like assistance for local government, public-works projects and green energy. It also has $275 billion in tax cuts, $25 billion less than Obama had sought and a smaller part of the package than the 40 percent Obama had proposed. Still, the tax cut portion is larger than liberals would like.