In the waning days of the George W. Bush Administration, shortly after the 111th Congress had been sworn in, we first learned the price tag for the Democrats’ “stimulus” packaged, cobbled together in the back rooms of Democratic offices on Capitol Hill. As the price tag hovered around $1 trillion, we in the rightosphere were astounded that anyone could consider legislation with such a tab, not even four months after Congress passed the bailouts which would ultimately total $700 billion.
And this while the federal government was already awash in red ink.
At the time (in those halcyon January days), I wondered if perhaps the Democrats were engaging in a little political theater. You see, shortly after winning election, promising a “net spending cut,” the then-President-elect promised to “scour the federal budget, line by line, and make meaningful cuts.” I never believed him for a second, but thought he might try and look like he was cutting the budget.
So, I was certain he was going to tell congressional Democrats that while he appreciated the hard work they put into the “stimulus,” he couldn’t sign it as it stood and asked them to come up with something far less costly. The piece of theater was never staged. He tried to maintain appearances only through the rhetoric of fiscal prudence.
I wonder if by letting Congress draft the “stimulus” as he has been letting various liberal Democrats craft other significant legislation that he is ceding his power to Congress–and diminishing his own stature at the same time. According to the Hill, Presidential scholar Paul Light has reached a similar conclusion:
One of the reasons Obama has spent so much capital, aside from his ambitious agenda, has been his willingness to cede so much control to Congress, Light said. . . . To that end, Light says, Obama has made a mistake in making Pelosi his “broker,” spending his political capital but not always to his benefit.
NOTE ON THIS POST:I had intended to blog on this on Friday, but decided to save the idea for the weekend. On Monday afterrnoon, I followed an Instapundit link to the Hill article linked above and realized I needed to blog on this post haste. I had scribbled this note:
Did O lose something when he let Congress draft “stimulus” –diminished his stature-bargaining power with Congress.