GOP Sens Reject The ‘I Won’ Argument

Jan 29, 2009 1:42pm

ABC News’ Z. Byron Wolf reports: Republican senators rejected the notion, put forth by President "I won" Obama and House Speaker Nancy "we won" Pelosi that, since Democrats won in November, they can expect Republican cooperation on the stimulus bill.

"I don’t think you can say in any way the American people, in electing Barack Obama, were supporting this legislation," Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., the number two Republican in the Senate, said at a press conference on Capitol Hill.

"This is a new problem," he said of the economic downturn.

Senate Republicans seem to have hardened in their opposition to the behemoth stimulus package — $887 billion in its current Senate form.

"This is about spending money we don’t have for things we don’t need," said Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla. He added — without specifics — there are things the government can spend money on to stimulate the economy, "but this is not that."

"A trillion dollars is a terrible thing to waste," said Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., rounding up a bit. Republicans point to a Congressional Budget Office report that pegs the long-term impact of the stimulus bill over $1 trillion.

The Republicans said the stimulus process needs to be slowed down so that it is done correctly. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, said that as she understands it — although the point is debatable — that recovery from the Great Depression was delayed "seven or eight years" by the New Deal.

Republicans had a chart comparing the stimulus to other big federal outlays, including the New Deal, which they estimated would cost $500 billion today, a little over half what the initial spending on the stimulus would cost (Other examples, they said, adjusting for inflation, include the Iraq war, the Marshall Plan and all of Vietnam).

"I’m going to vote against this package because it is not going to work," said Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah.

Republicans argue that the stimulus should include more tax cuts to stimulate private development. Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas lamented that a good percentage of the jobs that would be created by the Democratic bill that passed the House would be government jobs.

It’s notable that Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the Republican leader in the Senate, did not participate in this press conference. He has tried to strike a more open tone over the past week and is set to address a meeting of the Republican National Committee later today.

Kyl said that "unless there is a change in tone" he sees most or all Republicans opposing the stimulus. And they will feel bittersweet in six months, when he predicted the stimulus fails as is written by the Democrats in Congress and Obama.

"We’d rather have the input now," he said.

Kyl argued — without giving specifics — that there can be bipartisanship on the bill despite the real, substantive philosophical differences between Democrats and Republicans on how to stimulate the economy.

The Republicans were asked by a reporter to differentiate between the stimulus and the Iraq war, engineered by the Bush administration and pushed chiefly by Republicans, which has cost more than half a trillion dollars over the past five years.

"The war in Iraq was thoroughly debated in a bipartisan way," said Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, pointing out that the war authorization had support from Democrats, and all the subsequent spending bills for the war had Democratic support, too.

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