Voinovich Leaves Stimulus Negotiations
2:50 PM, Feb 6, 2009 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
And, then there were three moderate Republicans. Sen. George Voinovich has left the team of moderates attempting to craft a $100-billion cut in the current size of the stimulus plan, leaving Sen. Susan Collins, Sen. Olympia Snowe, and Sen. Arlen Specter to haggle with Democrats.
Collins said the Republican moderates had received a counter-offer from Democrats, which they're reviewing. "Blue Dog Democrats" in the House are encouraged by the work the moderates are doing, feeling certain that their conservative districts will make them pay for Pelosi's and Reid's malfeasance in ways liberal Congressmen won't have to:
Reid continues to be helpful and diplomatic, offering such soundbites as, "If they think they are going to rewrite this bill . . . they've got another thought coming," and "What in the world could we do to be more cooperative?"
Well, one way would be mustering more than four Democratic votes for more than one of the amendments proposed by Republicans, which would cut wasteful spending or offer tax cuts.
Collins told Roll Call the prospects of passing the bill by this weekend are dimming. Sen. Richard Burr, on local talk radio in North Carolina, suggested support for the bill among voters has been dropping so quickly that even keeping all Democrat votes is getting harder for Reid. He also said nine of 10 calls to the Hill are anti-stimulus.
His assessment may be a little rosier than reality, but Barack Obama is worried enough that he's planning a trip to sell the stimulus to skeptical Americans for Monday and Tuesday of next week:
Who was it that planned President Bush's well-intentioned but ultimately doomed town hall tour on Social Security in 2005? I believe the Obama administration has a job for him.