Rahm Slashes COBRA, Pats Himself On Back
Senate debate on the stimulus bill starts again at noon ET on CSPAN-2 and I’ll be liveblogging here.
After yesterday’s drama, Rahm is fashioning himself the "hero" of the Gang of Fools compromise. Press accounts are full of glowing tributes like this:
White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel attended the final meetings in Reid’s office last night to work out lingering differences. Before Emanuel arrived, Collins said, Democrats were advocating $63 billion in cuts. "Then Rahm got involved, and a much better proposal came forward," she said.
As AP puts it, " the group backed away from a confrontation that threatened to kill the legislation altogether after White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel weighed in to urge Democrats make a final round of concessions." In other words, his idea of "bipartisanship" has always been to beat up Democrats and make them give in to conservative policy objectives that already have strong Republican support. It’s how he operated in the House, how he "gets stuff done." He doesn’t know how to craft policy and win consensus.
And it looks like the war between Pelosi and Rahm heats up:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the proposed reductions "do violence to what we are trying to do for the future," especially on alternative energy and education, two areas Democrats believe were long neglected under President George W. Bush. "The cuts are very damaging," she told reporters at a House Democratic retreat in Williamsburg.
She also said "Washington seems consumed by this process argument of bipartisanship." I don’t think she meant it as a compliment.
If Rahm wants to brag about being responsible for the bill’s final form, he’s got to own the cuts for $20 billion in school construction, $2 billion for rural broadband, $3.5 billion to make federal buildings more energy efficient and $40 billion in aid to states. And I hope none of the 600,000 newly unemployed were hoping for more health care help from COBRA — $5 billion got slashed out of that, too.
The package would still have to get through conference with the House. Pelosi is apparently the only hope of keeping this bill from being ineffective and regressive.
Liveblog on the flip:
12:10 Kyl: "We have never said that only tax relief will work." The GOP world view seems to be constructed on a foundation of historical revisionism.
He’s also whining that if you’re looking for "bipartisan support," talking about "the tired ideologies of the past" is not the way to do it. In other words, Republicans aren’t interested being the "party of personal responsibility."
Now the states shouldn’t be bailed out because it would only award them for being fiscally irresponsible. (As opposed to the banks, I guess.) And poor people caused the mortgage crisis. It would be better if all the Democrats would just become more bipartisan and give the Republicans everything they’re asking for.
Basically the GOP are using every opportunity they get to hammer the meme Obama is not being "bipartisan." Since this whole bill has been sold as a tribute to process and not out of commitment to specific tangible goals, I imagine it will be successful no matter what concessions they receive.
Kerry: Oh don’t make me laugh, you’re all a bunch of WATBs.
12:31 — Kagro X on the President’s day deadline that has been set for passage of the bill:
You also might very well see the Senate adjourn defensively, leaving the House with the choice to either pass what the Senate gave it, or if it declines and instead insists on changes, "be responsible" for delaying the measure another week by sending it back to a Senate in adjournment.
12:49 — Kerry making the argument for green energy and technology development funds so we can burn coal cleanly.
12:56 — Kyl:
The senator from Massachussets talked about deficits, and in effect blamed the Bush administration. I would just make the facts here, which is that last year under Democrat controlled congress the deficit doubled — it doubled — from what it was when the Republicans were in control of congress, and it will double again this year.
Well he’s right about one thing — he is making the facts. Kerry tries to be recognized but Kyl won’t yield.
12:58 — things are getting testy. Jello Jay to Kyl: "I don’t think you as my friend at counterpart should feel that you need to make a speech after every point that’s made on our side, and I think that’s the tendency now."
1:00 — Kerry — yes deficit doubled — there’s a fucking war on. And we passed a stimulus.
1:02 — Boxer asks if she can speak, but Sessions says "no."
1:07 — Boxer — "they spent it on Iraq — I want to spend it here."
1:15 — CNN — What Got Cut
1:21 — Boxer smacks Lindsey Graham around again for being a big baby and feeling sorry for himself.
1:22 — Mike Johanns: "make no mistake about this legislation — it is the bill with the biggest price tag in the history of our nation, really in the history of the world." I guess he wasn’t in the senate in 2001 for the $1.3 trillion Bush tax cuts. I guess he just didn’t feel like he was a big enough asshole yesterday and is trying to make up for lost time.
1:27 — Nothing "bipartisan." Closed door meetings with only two Republicans present. Threatens filibuster, whining that the Treasury overpaid for bank stocks by $78 billion dollars. Is he going for comedy?
1:32 — Johann’s corn pone tribute to himself as governor where he always had to balance budgets and wouldn’t dream about printing money and handing the bill to the little kiddies not up to speed with the new GOP enthusiam for deficit financed tax cuts that Kyl and others are preaching.
Linda R in the comments: "Senator Johanns has only been here 26 days. He doesn’t know whose fault this is."
1:39 — Amy Klobuchar stole JOBS JOBS JOBS chart from Ben Nelson.
1:44 — John Ensign: Republicans tried to get a strong regulator for Fannie and Freddie but Democrats blocked it. And Hoover caused the depression because he raised taxes. What color is the sky in your world?
Also, it was the Democrats who gave Bush all the money he asked for. Republicans had nothing to do with it.
2:00 — Does Rahm really think telling people that Dave Obey wrote this bill and the Obama people had nothing to do with it makes them look good? I mean, think about it.
2:02 — Tom Udall: The important thing is that several Republicans have stepped forward to work with us on this package — Snowe, Collins and Specter. They understand there’s a crisis and it’s not just another opportunity for a publicity stunt.
Defends Obama’s use of the term "failed ideologies" — eight years of tax cuts for the rich, massive debt. The more confrontational style of former House members probably more appropriate to adequately address the Republican "statesmanship" on display.
2:10 — Jeff Sessions flips out Larry Summers comments from months ago when the economic situation was significantly different to bolster his argument. And refighting the Civil War.
2:35 — Grassley up. States facing a $40 billion slash in rescue funds — thank him for his insistence on the AMT patch! Not like he’s voting for the bill or anything.
2:50 — Grassley: I’ve been the only Republican asking for oversight for years. Wants people to vote for an amendment saying no agency that receives funds from this bill can claim executive privilege and refuse to provide documents to Congress. NOW they want this?
2:53 — Jello Jay extends time to 3:30.
2:54 — Bill Nelson decries "excessive partisanship."
3:04 — Jello Jay says even though they’re rushing it’s been very well thought-through and debated. And John Kyl’s on crack if he thinks the states are in this place because they’ve all managed their finances so poorly.
3:19 — Republican discipline is better than Democratic discipline, which is why "partisanship" never quite works so well for us.
3:25 — Clerk calls the roll.