Leading Republicans Sunday indicated that they would oppose passage of the stimulus package as it is currently written. While there is bi-partisan acknowledgment that some sort of stimulus package needs to be passed to provide a jolt to the economy, Democrats are attaching a sense of urgency to the situation that Republicans do not seem to share. The economic picture shows no signs of improving, as investors brace for the biggest plunge in GDP in 26 years.
Originally, Democrats wanted to have a stimulus plan ready for Obama to sign on his first day in office. That was, perhaps, an unrealistic goal, but it is now unlikely that any kind of plan will be passed before mid to late February.
Commenting this morning on the Sunday talk shows, high-ranking GOP members gave the current stimulus package low marks and threatened to vote against it unless significant changes are made:
"Right now, given the concerns that we have over the size of this package and all of the spending in this package, we don't think it's going to work," the House Minority Leader John A. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "And so if it's the plan that I see today, put me down in the no column."
Boehner warned that many rank-and-file Republicans had the same sentiments.
John McCain also voiced his opposition to the stimulus:
Senator McCain, who lost the presidential election to Mr. Obama in November, said that he planned to vote no unless the bill were changed.
"We need to make tax cuts permanent, and we need to make a commitment that there'll be no new taxes," Mr. McCain said. "We need to cut payroll taxes. We need to cut business taxes."
To watch McCain's appearance on "Fox News Sunday," click here.
Republicans want much more of the stimulus package to consist of tax cuts instead of spending, and Democrats have acceded to much of this demand. Indeed, Democratic Congressional leaders defended including more tax cuts in the package despite calling them ineffective. Huffingon Post's Sam Stein reports:
Two of the highest-profile Democrats in Congress argued on Sunday that when it comes to the economic stimulus package, spending projects will do more to jump-start the economy than tax cuts.
And then... they defended the tax cuts.
Appearing on the Sunday talk show circuit, Sen. Chuck Schumer and Speaker Nancy Pelosi touted the merits of the recovery package now making its way through Congress. But there was a peculiar logic to their defense: tax cuts would not be as effective in encouraging job growth, but they would make up a major portion of the legislation anyways.
It wasn't just GOP politicians who took to the airwaves to criticize the stimulus plan. Leading Republican intellectuals offered their own, much more pointed, critiques. Think Progress has compiled a video of Bill Kristol and Charles Krauthammer bashing the stimulus. David Brooks also weighed in with a column on January 23rd, calling it an "unholy marriage that manages to combine the worst of each approach." Apparently Obama's conservative dinner party was not as effective as he would have hoped. Watch the video below.