Saturday, February 07, 2009

Senate reaches tentative deal on Obama's stimulus plan.

There is now talk that there is a "tentative agreement" to push Obama's economic stimulus package forward.

The tentative agreement capped a tense day of back-room negotiations in which Senate majority leader Harry Reid, joined by White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, sought to attract the support of enough Republicans to give the measure the needed 60-vote majority.

Officials strongly suggested that senator Edward M Kennedy's vote would be needed to assure passage. The Massachusetts Democrat, battling a brain tumour, has been in Florida in recent days and has not been in the Washington DC since suffering a seizure on inauguration day more than two weeks ago. The senator's office did not comment.

Under Senate rules, a senator must be in the chamber to vote. Reid met privately in the Capitol with members of his rank and file to present the proposed deal.

At $780bn, the legislation would be smaller than the measure that cleared the House of Representatives on a party-line vote last week. It also would mean a sharp cut from the bill that has been the subject of Senate debate for a week. That measure stood at $937bn.

Beyond the numbers, though, any agreement would mark a victory for the new president and would keep Democratic leaders on track to fulfil their promise of delivering him a bill to sign by the end of next week.

The Republicans have struck me as wildly out of step with public opinion on this one. It is worth remembering that it was the financial crisis which pushed Obama way ahead on the polls during the election and it was McCain's attitude to the entire subject of the economic crisis which brought about his downfall.

And yet, astonishingly, the Republicans have kept up the same argument as the one they lost the election on.

I find that breathtaking. They continue to argue for Reaganomics even after those policies have resulted in disaster. This is why they deserve to be out of power for a generation. They are bereft of ideas, simply repeating the same mantra which has sustained them for the last thirty.

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