So reports our Jonathan Karl, from Capitol Hill. One small step for bipartisanship?
Here’s some change you might find hard to believe in. Republican Congressional leaders Mitch McConnell & John Boehner say they like what they are hearing so far on Obama’s economic plans.
"I think we are being listened to," McConnell told reporters. "I’m pleased with what the new president’s had to say so far. I don’t have any complaints about the communication at this stage." McConnell said that Republicans have consulted with economists "who would be considered more conservative" and "Each of them agreed with the president, the incoming president, that we need to do a stimulus."
More McConnell: "It’s clear to me from listening to the president, the new president, that he wants to include Republican ideas and among them, that I’ve laid out in the last few days, are reducing the middle-class tax rate."
Of course, at this point it’s good politics to sound bi-partisan with a popular incoming president. The Republican leaders, however did repeatedly express concern about the potential for too much spending. "Obviously the issue is how big and what form," McConnell said. "Given the deficit numbers, it really ought not to be a trillion-dollar spending bill." And, he said, it needs to be temporary and targeted.
Boehner sounded a bi-partisan note as well, but repeatedly raised concerns about too much deficit spending:
"It’s going to be our kids and their kids" who pay the debt, he said. "And we can’t bury them under the debt, and we can’t buy prosperity with more and more government spending."
Later on the Senate floor (at 11:30), Senator Judd Gregg, the top Republican on the Budget Committee also warned about deficit spending, saying the country is facing "a fiscal tsunami."
Gregg: "It is obvious that we need a robust stimulus package right now and it is very obvious that we need to have it sooner rather than later. And from my standpoint as a member of the republican party, which is in opposition here arguably, I want to work with the other side of the aisle and with the president-elect to accomplish it, because I don’t think we can afford partisan politics at this time. we need to govern.