Stimulus Lessons

Feb 15, 2009 10:19am

"When I came back to the cloak room after coming to the agreement a week ago today," Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Penn., said, "one of my colleagues said, ‘Arlen, I’m proud of you.’ My Republican colleague said, ‘Arlen, I’m proud of you.’ I said, ‘Are you going to vote with me?’ And he said, ‘No, I might have a primary.’ And I said, ‘Well, you know very well I’m going to have a primary.’

"I think there are a lot of people in the Republican caucus who are glad to see this action taken without their fingerprints, without their participation," Specter said.

How many?

"I think a sizable number," Specter replied. "I think a good part of the caucus agrees with the person I quoted, but I wouldn’t want to begin to speculate on numbers."

The comments, reported HERE by the Huffington Post, prompt the question: What, if anything, could President Obama have done to get those Republicans to publicly support the stimulus bill that their colleague Specter says they supported only in private?

The St. Pete Times weighs in  with a piece on stimulus lessons for the president.

"Some of it is miscalculations on their part, where you create a set of standards that raise expectations to unbelievable levels," Norm Ornstein told the paper. "And then you end up not being able to meet them."

Another lesson: "Our best asset and our best salesperson is President Obama, and when we got out there and started talking about this, the American people stood up right behind him," said Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, D-Fla.

Politico’s Glenn Thrush also weighs in with some lessons learned. 

"I don’t think he should have set the expectation he was going to get Republican votes," Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., told Thrush. "He set himself a high bar-and an irrelevant bar… and he didn’t achieve it… He should not have legitimized [the notion of bipartisanship], that prompted their partisan reaction… I don’t think he’s going to make that mistake again."

A member of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s leadership team anonymously acknowledged "we’ve got to do a much better job of keeping individual members much better informed. We’ve got to push out information internally to members, especially committee chairs, in a more efficient way. There needs to be a faster, broader dissemination-hello-how about an E-mail? It would lead to this being a happier place."

USA Today’s Susan Page notes that friends can sometimes be more problematic than enemies. "House Democrats made it easy for Republicans by including pet projects that proved difficult to defend as economic stimulus, among them funding for family planning services and landscaping for the National Mall. The Obama team had left it to the Democratic leadership to write the details of the bill. Former House speaker Newt Gingrich, a Republican, calls that ‘a huge mistake.’"

What would you add?

- jpt

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