Friday, February 13, 2009

It's Obama's win, and it's Obama's bill

A really great point made by a TPM reader:
Like everyone else, I'm waiting for the details. But from what I've heard so far, this seems to be a remarkable triumph for the new president.

A month ago, Obama economists Romer and Bernstein released job-creation projections that "assumed a package just slightly over the $775 billion currently under discussion." Lo and behold, the final bill comes in at $789 billion. It reportedly includes Obama's proposed tax cuts, comprising almost exactly the same proportion of the overall package. For the past month, media attention has focused on all the changes to the package, and on the controversies it has engendered. Obama has been criticized for failing to forge a bipartisan consensus, for not safeguarding his priorities, and for not taking a sufficiently aggressive role in the negotiations on the Hill. So it's worth stepping back to take note of the fact that the final package looks remarkably like what Obama has wanted all along. In fact, it's closer to that original proposal than to either the House or Senate versions of the bill. Remarkable.

Whether or not it's the right package is a whole separate topic. But as a legislative achievement, coming so early in the term, this is astonishing.

Whenever I talk about the stimulus negotiations being a failure, I'm looking at it from progressive, economic and political angles. It was a failure for progressives because it was a once a generation opportunity to enact a massive bill to revitalize our nation's infrastructure. I don't think it's good from an economic perspective because most of the economists I read think it's way too small, and far from a sure thing to turn around the economy. And politically I worry because if the economy tanks past 2010, so will the future prospects of the Obama's presidency.

However, this is essentially the bill that Obama wanted, and he got it. He wanted higher school spending than the Collins/Nelson clusterfuck cut out, and he wanted more tax cuts that the senate democrats were thankfully able to cut out. The negotiations may have enraged progressives, but at the end of the day, this is very close to the bill that Obama drew up right after the innaugeration.

I don't really have a larger point to add on to that, I just thought it was worth mentioning.

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