It is the same old story, now that the Democrats have control of both houses of congress and the oval office they are doing their best to self-destruct. This week, Diane Fienstein dissed both the President-elect and her Senate leadership, and Harry Reid made a point of reminding reporters the he does not report to the president. Thankfully Chuck Schumer just stands behind them looking stupid (an easy task for NY’s Senior Senator).
That was only the start, while the opposition party has been relatively calm about Obama’s super-sized economic stimulus package, HIS OWN PARTY IS PISSED. You see, the Democrats think the package gives the public too much of their OWN money in tax cuts:
Dems and Obama split on taxes
By Alexander Bolton
The first rift between the Obama White House and congressional Democrats began to open Tuesday as lawmakers pushed back against the extent of the president-elect’s proposed tax cuts.
Democrats on Capitol Hill questioned the lengths to which Barack Obama was seeking to win over Republicans.
While he was wrapping up his landmark speech across the Potomac River at George Mason University outlining his economic plan, Democrats were leaving a meeting of the Senate Finance Committee unconvinced that a proposed $3,000 employer tax credit for new hires would help the economy significantly.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, appearing on National Public Radio, questioned Obama’s broader proposal on cutting taxes.
“People are plenty skeptical, and I don’t care what [party] the administration is, there’s going to be a lot more pushback,” said Sen. Kent Conrad (N.D.), a Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee and chairman of the Budget Committee.
Frank said on NPR’s “Marketplace Morning Report”: “I have some difference because I think they may be doing too much tax-cutting and not enough direct spending from the standpoint of immediate job creation.”
To be sure, Democratic leadership remained solidly behind their incoming commander in chief, at least publicly.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) threatened to keep her chamber in session during the Presidents Day recess if the stimulus bill is not on Obama’s desk by mid-February.
But behind the scenes, David Axelrod, Obama’s top strategist, and Lawrence Summers, a top economic adviser to Obama and the former Treasury secretary under President Clinton, huddled with congressional Democratic leaders in an effort to begin plotting a strategy to sell the public on what could be a $1 trillion stimulus package.
“I think there was what one would properly expect, which was constructive comments,” Axelrod told reporters after the meeting. “I’m not going to characterize it as pushback. I’m going to characterize it as people doing their jobs … This is a cooperative process. There’s been dialogue back and forth. So we understand what people’s concerns are.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) indicated the differences will be worked out.
“Summers understands that we have views on different issues, and I think this is a work in progress, as it should be. I think he learned a lot about how we feel,” Reid said. “Some felt there was not enough here and too much there and that’s what this engagement is all about.”
For all Obama’s effort to lure Republicans, the consensus he hoped to build by allocating 40 percent of his proposed stimulus package to tax cuts has been slow to materialize.
Instead of rushing to Obama’s side, Republicans have warned he is trying to do too much, too fast and that the long-term economic impact of the package could be disastrous if it plunges the nation irrevocably into debt.
“The last thing we ought to do in this package is make long-term systemic changes that make the spending problem even worse,” Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) told reporters at a news conference following Obama’s address on the economy.
“We don’t want to make big mistakes that exacerbate the problem we already have, which is a dramatic, eye-popping deficit,” he said.
Obama on Thursday asked Congress to work swiftly to pass a broad array of tax cuts and spending measures to stimulate the stagnating economy, in which unemployment has reached 7 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Obama laid out his ideas on the stage at George Mason University in stark terms that greatly contrasted with his more optimistic tone from the campaign.
“I don’t believe it’s too late to change course, but it will be if we don’t take dramatic action as soon as possible. If nothing is done, this recession could linger for years,” Obama said, noting that unemployment could reach double digits and the average family of four could see a five-figure decline in its income.
His broad proposals include doubling alternative energy production over the next three years; computerizing medical records; improving energy efficiency in American homes; and building information technology infrastructure in rural areas.
He kept much of his plan secret, sharing it selectively with congressional leaders and members of the tax-writing and spending panels.
Though details of his proposed tax cuts have only begun to circulate on Capitol Hill, they have already run into stiff Democratic opposition.
“Frankly, the history of these marginal tax incentives when the economy has been falling rapidly has not been good,” said Conrad, who argued that tax incentives will not motivate employers to make new hires when they have difficulty selling inventory.
“I’m not excited about that,” said Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), another member of the Finance Committee, when asked about Obama’s proposed tax credit for employers.
“Because if someone is able to hire, they’re going to hire anyway. The creation of a tax credit to enable them to hire isn’t going to make up for the lack of goods to be sold or change in confidence in the economy.”
Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said he was dissatisfied with the plan’s tax cuts and lack of initiatives for the manufacturing sector.
“I have some real questions as to whether or not they’re going to be effective as they’re currently designed, but I don’t have the answer to those questions yet,” Levin said. “And where is the word ‘manufacturing’ in any of their plans? The biggest hit in this country has been to the manufacturing jobs.”