Dear President Obama,
Congratulations on assuming the office you worked so hard for and for bringing with you a spirit of positivism, enthusiasm, and seriousness. I did not vote for you nor do I consider myself aligned with your political philosophy, but I wish you success in your term and nothing but happiness and good health for you and your family.
I write today in order to urge you to work closely with the Congress, especially the Senate, to focus and sharpen the economic stimulus package introduced recently in the House. I am under no delusions here; if the Democratic majority wishes to push through a bill bereft of Republican support, it probably can. Elections have consequences, and my party has lost two in a row, leaving it in a poor position to contest policies with which it disagrees.
With that in mind, it appears that you are a man of your word. You indicated throughout the campaign a desire to work across party lines to reach solutions, and you indicated a desire to reach solutions that were not ideologically based, but fact-based. On economic stimulus, I agree with the broad outline of your plan; immediate tax cuts to put more money into working families pockets, and stimulative works projects (often referred to as "shovel ready") to jumpstart the economy. Where we have visceral disagreement is in what constitutes effectively stimulative tax cuts, and what variety of government spending should be considered "shovel ready" and "stimulative".
This is not the place to delve deeply into the particulars of our disagreements; suffice it to say that my views are largely represented by the Republican minority in the Senate and by moderate, fiscally conservative Democrats like Ben Nelson, Jim Webb, and Mary Landrieu. What we all have in common is a desire to move the country forward out of its current economic malaise. There will be time for advancing policy initiatives important to you; however, inserting them into this Trojan Horse of a stimulus bill undercuts your credibility when you refer to our current economy as in crisis. An emergency bill designed to address a crisis should not attempt to remake the political landscape in one fell swoop.
Alice Rivlin, formerly Bill Clinton's budget adviser, advocated exactly this policy in her recent Senate testimony in which she suggested separating out the tax provisions and the immediately stimulative portions of the bill from the longer term policy wants. Republicans would even then have legitimate protests over the bill, as the tax cut mechanism you have selected essentially results in a one time hand-out rather than long-term marginal rate relief. But they would not have the votes or the support of the American people, something they seem to enjoy at this point in the debate, your personal popularity notwithstanding.
Mr. President, your time to lead is now; this is why the American people selected you in a convincing manner. You did indeed win the election, and you do enjoy a mandate to move the country forward. But in the end, you are required to work with 100 Senators and 435 Representatives who also won THEIR elections, and it is their constituencies who are being heard on this issue.
Blogger, The Conservative Wahoo