Underscoring the reality that GOP opposition to the stimulus seems firmly entrenched, the Obama administration mounted a more aggressive stance in favor of the recovery package, stating on Monday that there is little time left for quibbling.
"Delay in this town may not mean much," said press secretary Robert Gibbs. "But delay in America means that the help the American people need right now won't get there as quickly as they need it to."
Gibbs stressed on several occasion that the areas of difference between the president and Republicans in Congress were minor, noting that if one accumulated the spending provisions that the GOP objected to you would get $669 million, or "7/100ths of 1 percent of a piece of legislation."
But when pressed later why the debate seemed to be revolving around that 7/100ths of one percent, he said to the inquiring reporter: "They clearly have gotten you to do that."
At another point, when asked whether he thought the Obama White House was losing the debate on the legislation, he called the question/critique "gratuitous."
The remarks come at a time when Republicans seem bolstered in their choice to vote against the stimulus package. Speaking to reporters on Monday, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell did not rule out the specter of filibustering the legislation once it comes to a vote this evening.
Sen Richard Shelby, meanwhile, said he was prepared to use the parliamentary procedure to hold up the stimulus bill. Sen. Chuck Grassley, Minority Whip Jon Kyl, and Sen. James Inhofe have all hinted they would go along. How successful that venture will be, it seems, depends largely on a handful of moderate Republicans who are believed to favor the economic recovery plan.
In the past week, the Obama White House has largely tried to play down the partisan critiques of the legislation, deploying baseball metaphors ("this is the third inning of the game") as a means of dismissing concerns. On Monday, however, Gibbs tried to switch the dynamics, putting forward direct arguments for specific aspects of the legislation. He noted that the legislation included $123 billion on infrastructure -- more money for that venture than any legislation since the 1950s -- and would help build 21st Century classrooms.
"I think the president believes and his team believes if people would look [at the remainder of the bill]," said Gibbs, "you will find that this meets the president's standard of stimulating the economy [and] creating jobs."
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