So, way back when, then-candidate Barack Obama promised to do more to reach across the partisan divide and unite both parties around critical policies. He restated that pledge at the beginning of the debate on the economic stimulus package, promising to sound out his ideological opponents for whatever good ideas they had on how to proceed. That promise has been honored, so yay, hooray, he can check that promise off his list, whatever. But in so doing, Obama ceded a certain amount of leverage over the effort to produce an effective stimulus bill, and, unsurprisingly, that bill has ended up in a diminished state.
House Democrats, under the charge of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have vowed to undo the damage. And why not? Public opinion remains behind both Obama and a stimulus package. Pelosi has already demonstrated she has the votes. So the problem of lost leverage now finds its locus in the Senate, where the support of a handful of so-called "moderates" is supposedly necessary to stave off a filibuster. Of course, these days, while the threat of filibuster inflames every decision the Senate, there is actually very little filibustering. Just the thought of it terrifies Harry Reid, for some reason.
In announcing his support Friday night, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) pointedly read from a Chamber of Commerce endorsement. The National Association of Manufacturers has also weighed in, telling Republicans that votes on the bill "including potential procedural motions" may be considered for designation as key votes in NAM's scoring of their legislative record.
Allow me to read between the lines: That is a "traditionally Republican-leaning business lobby" warning Senate Republicans that they will take a pound of flesh from anyone who obstructs the stimulus bill via filibuster. It's not everyday that NAM backs an $800 billion bill from a Democratic president. If that's where the business community stands on this bill, it's leverage that Obama should use.