Senate Republicans Delaying Senate Stimulus Bill

Maybe you recall the White House games back in the fall of 2001 when Senate moderates were trying to push through an effective stimulus package but were being blocked by the GOP Senate leadership at every turn. This was part of a White House led game that started with the GOP dominated House passing a bill long on deficit creation but short on aggregate demand stimulus. While the various ideas from the Senate moderates were superior to the House bill, the White House strategy was to have Senator majority leader Trent Lott engineering stalling tactics while White House spokesmen went out and bashed the Senate for not moving on the House bill.

Well guess what? It seems it’s happening this go round with BNA (a tax publisher) doing a good job of covering the details. Last night there were a series of updates from BNA with the key parts summarized as follows:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Feb. 5 he intends to file a new motion for a cloture vote in an attempt to move forward on a Finance Committee-derived stimulus package. While both Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) agreed that they are still likely to reach agreement this week, the cloture motion is likely to delay a floor vote on final passage of the bill until Feb. 8, a Reid spokesman said … Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) told reporters Feb. 5 that the Senate will now hold only one vote on the economic stimulus package, and it will be on an expanded version of the Finance Committee-approved chairman’s mark … Repeatedly pressed Feb. 5 about why the administration will not accept language that would allow senior citizens and disabled veterans to receive tax rebate checks under the stimulus package, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson would only say that he supports the House package (H.R. 5140) and did not want to negotiate in a public forum. Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee used a hearing on the president’s fiscal year 2009 budget proposal to criticize the administration for rejecting their language to give rebates to 20 million senior citizens whose only income is from Social Security, and to 250,000 veterans who receive disability payments. Paulson said he prefers the House package, which he said gives the “greatest bang for the buck,” and that he believes “we’ll work this out,” but he did not think “a public hearing is the forum to negotiate.” He said he supports Congress moving quickly and would like to see the larger Senate package “out there, on the floor, and voted for and worked through.” Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) said she the administration appears to be fighting the Senate changes, adding “you don’t like everything in our package, that’s obvious, and that’s life, you don’t get everything you want” but “I think disabled veterans and seniors are a very important improvement” to the House package.

While Paulson is arguing that the House bill will give the greatest bang for the buck, we know that this is not the case as noted here. While Baucus is trying to move through a more sensible stimulus package, McConnell is helping this White House stall action. And now the Treasury Secretary is not only saying our way or the highway, he is flat out lying about which bill gives the greatest bang for the buck. Par for the course for this corrupt and dishonest Administration!