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Moderates uneasy with Obama plan

Discussion in 'Political Zone' started by trickblue, Mar 4, 2009.

  1. trickblue

    trickblue Old Testament... Zone Supporter

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    Moderates uneasy with Obama plan

    By MANU RAJU

    Moderate and conservative Democrats in the Senate are starting to choke over the massive spending and tax increases in President Barack Obama’s budget plans and have begun plotting to increase their influence over the agenda of a president who is turning out to be much more liberal than they are.

    A group of 14 Senate Democrats and one independent huddled behind closed doors on Tuesday, discussing how centrists in that chamber can assert more leverage on the major policy debates that will dominate this Congress.

    Afterward, some in attendance made plain that they are getting jitters over the cost and expansive reach of Obama’s $3.6 trillion budget proposal.

    Asked when he’d reach his breaking point, Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson, one of the most conservative Democrats in the Senate, said: “Right now. I’m concerned about the amount that’s being offered in [Obama’s] budget.”

    Another attendee, Sen. Mary L. Landrieu (D-La.), said she expected the newly formed caucus to shape Obama’s budget proposal as it moves through Congress.

    “We want to give the president a chance, but our concern is going to be on the budget, looking forward,” Landrieu said. She added that she agrees with Obama that there needs to be “fundamental change” in fiscal policy, but she said “we do have to keep our eye on the long term, on intermediate and long-term fiscal responsibility.”

    Sen. Evan Bayh, the Indiana Democrat who assembled Tuesday’s skull session, added that he was “very concerned” about Washington’s level of spending, especially in a $410 billion “omnibus” spending bill to fund the government until the start of a new fiscal year in October.

    As for the tax increases on high-income earners called for in Obama’s plan, Bayh said, “I do think that before we raise revenue, we first should look to see if there are ways we can cut back on spending.”

    “The American people and businesses are tightening their belts,” Bayh added. “I think we need to show that the government can economize as well.”

    The anxiety that moderate and conservative Democrats in the Senate are feeling about Obama’s agenda is potentially significant. In the House, moderate Democrats have much less leverage to slow action on a majority that under Speaker Nancy Pelosi is eager to embrace the boldest and most expensive parts in the agenda.

    In the Senate, where it takes 60 votes to end debate, a few reluctant Democrats can cause big problems for Obama — a reverse of the dynamic that last month gave a few ready-to-bargain Republicans enormous clout in passing a major stimulus package.

    It was that package, combined with at least $700 billion in bailouts to the financial sector, combined with the recently unveiled budget, that has some Democrats at the breaking point — even as most say they basically agree with Obama that massive intervention is needed to help a sick economy.

    If the moderate Democrats in the Senate are willing to work with moderate Republicans — as Bayh said they are eager to do — they will negate the White House’s ability to portray opposition to Obama’s spending as partisan obstructionism.

    Traditionally, senators are much more independent than House members, and much less likely to organize in caucuses of like-minded colleagues. But moderate Democratic senators seem intent on shaking up the culture of the upper chamber.

    “If we’re going to get 60, we have to have the pragmatists, the moderates in the Senate, in the Democratic caucus working together and reaching out to those on the other side, of like minds,” Bayh said. “And this group would facilitate that process.”

    Ken Baer, communications director for the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, said the budget overview is the administration’s strategy for “addressing big challenges, both fiscal and economic, that have been overlooked for some time now. We look forward to working with congresspeople from across the political spectrum on how to tackle these challenges.”

    In his budget request, Obama calls for a massive restructuring of federal priorities, including a $634 billion fund to overhaul the country’s health care system. While the deficit would swell in the near term, the president has promised to cut it in half by the end of his first term.

    To do that, Obama has proposed an array of tax hikes that have been greeted with a chilly reception from Republicans and moderate Democrats. Under Obama’s plan, most of the tax increases would be delayed until 2011, when the tax cuts enacted under Bush would expire, increasing taxes on families making more than $250,000 from 35 percent to 39.6 percent. While Obama would attempt to save small businesses on their tax payments, he would target an array of companies for hikes, like oil and gas firms, companies that do businesses overseas, and hedge funds and other private equity firms.

    “I have major concerns about trying to raise taxes in the midst of a downturn of the economy,” said Nelson, the conservative Nebraska Democrat. “On the one hand, you’re trying to stimulate the economy. On the other hand, you’re trying to keep money from going into taxpayers’ pockets. It’s very difficult to make that logic work.”

    Nelson also highlighted concerns with changes in agriculture payments that are being proposed, as well as the Obama administration’s assumption that it would receive revenue from a cap-and-trade bill to curb global warming, even though enacting such a plan would be daunting.

    A senior administration official, who asked for anonymity, said the White House would be looking for additional cuts in the budget and would eventually get the debt under control. But the official said the budget was large in size and scope in order to respond to the swooning economy that Obama inherited.

    “We inherited a huge, huge problem: unbelievable mismanagement,” the official said.

    Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, who is also part of the moderate Democratic group, agreed with that sentiment. But she added that she hadn’t “scrubbed” Obama’s proposed budget yet and that “we need to be careful not to use the economic crisis to get into bad habits.”

    Similarly, Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) said he wants to ensure that new spending in Obama’s budget remains funded for only one year. “If it’s coming and staying, then I have a problem,” Begich said just before he headed off to the meeting with the moderate Democrats.

    Other Democrats in that group include Sens. Mark Warner of Virginia, Bill Nelson of Florida, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Robert P. Casey Jr. of Pennsylvania, and Blanche L. Lincoln of Arkansas, as well as Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.).

    “At what point of time do you say enough is enough?” said Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), a centrist who is not part of the group. “I don’t know where that is at this point.”
  2. Doomsday101

    Doomsday101 Well-Known Member

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    Not all dems come from extremely liberal states and these people have to go home and face voters. You better believe some are starting to question this massive spending
  3. JBond

    JBond Well-Known Member

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    It's nice to see some Dems regaining their senses. The vote on the $410 billion supplemental budget bill will be a good test. It is supposed to be voted on by Friday.
  4. Doomsday101

    Doomsday101 Well-Known Member

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    I love that bill where we will be adding even more to things like the National endowment which received money in the last stimulus and now getting more? That is only 1 example of what they term as double dipping. But hey they think the American people are lazy and dumb which is why they continue to pull this BS and get away with it.
  5. TheCount

    TheCount Pixel Pusher

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    I don't think anyone, Obama included, is "easy" with the plan. No president or staff wants to be the one that spent a trillion dollars in 3 months.
  6. Doomsday101

    Doomsday101 Well-Known Member

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    Then don't do it, stop with the sky will fall if we don't do this routine. The sky will not fall and we will come out of this recession with or without these trillions being spent.
  7. TheCount

    TheCount Pixel Pusher

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    I don't think anyone here understands enough about what's going on to know whether the sky will or will not fall.

    Let's face it, we're all pretend experts.
  8. JBond

    JBond Well-Known Member

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    Sure he is "easy" with it. His misguided belief that only government can fix economies is one of his core principles. Bigger more invasive government is his only pathetic answer to every problem. He loves doing this. It is who he is. Remember he does not like our Constitution or what it stands for. To him it is a simple list of negative liberties.

    It's not like someone has a gun to his head and is forcing him to spend money like a drunken idiot. If he was "uneasy" with it, he should not have done it. It really is very simple.
  9. Doomsday101

    Doomsday101 Well-Known Member

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    Some more than others. I agree some things need to be done but this massive spending is not going to do anything but hurt us in the long run we do not have the money we are borrowing hand over fist and the bill will come do like it or not. Will the sky fall no it will not maybe you need to get a better understanding of what is taking place instead of calling others out about their knowledge of what is going on.
  10. JBond

    JBond Well-Known Member

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    I feel bad you do not understand what is going on. Some of us do understand Obama's agenda. It is not that hard to figure out.
  11. TheCount

    TheCount Pixel Pusher

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    :rolleyes:

    I understand pretty well the cause of the problem, but who is to say what the solution is or what will work best?

    I don't want the money spent either, like I said, no one does.

    Who exactly did I call out? Maybe you'd feel better if I said we're all pretend experts, except Doomsday101?
  12. Doomsday101

    Doomsday101 Well-Known Member

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    No more pretenders than these idiots in charge. We have Treasury Secretary who either cheated on his taxes or was to stupid to know he owed taxes and he is the one giving advice? :laugh2:

    It is not hard to understand that you can't as a nation continue to spend as we are currently doing and we have not even touched SS and medicare which will require trillions based on what obama own people are saying. Now where is the money coming from? The Rich? not even a tax increase on them can cover this bill. I don't put this all on Obama however he is not making matters better buy digging an even deeper hole than what he started with.
  13. ShiningStar

    ShiningStar Well-Known Member

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    I can say for certainity that i can understand your points, and your stance on subjects. But this is clearly wrong.

    Obama has anyone at his disposal to go to and do the research and listen and chooses not to. This is no longer a sign that what he is currently is doing is wrong, or a little bit to the center of wrong than even people in his own party are comfortable with. But now it is a sign that hes not even keeping his own party happy. I am sure its not hard to do, but coming off everything he screamed for, he's not doing much of it and not doing it even remotely well.

    You dont have to be a pretend expert, this is filtering down to the common folk at this point, but now more and more people are getting scared. This was a fear fueled by the Obama camp so that when he does fix it, Jesus himself would be impressed, now the information streamlining in is starting to scare those that were rock solid all that which Obama will do, maybe not be all the correct answers, and some are now shifting to the comfortable safe side of, maybe its time we look at that spending and see what we can stop.

    This is a good sign that some Democrats can do to get some Republicans on their side for later down the road and I am glad to see some Democrats say, "We are not against Obama, we just simply want to say, SLOW DOWN PARTNER' .
  14. burmafrd

    burmafrd Well-Known Member

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    That is BS about the democrats not realizing how liberal Obama is. THEY KNEW full well and tried to hide it as best they could pre election. Now the rest of the country is finally starting to wake up.

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