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Published:February 2nd, 2009 14:57 EST
Barack Obama, stimulus package

President Obama Ensures Concessions with Opposing G.O.P. Leaders

By Christopher HIllenbrand

As soon as his inauguration ceremony, draped in symbolism, was over, President Barack Obama (ah, that feels great to say, doesn`t it!) had his work cut out for him. Even with the power majority returning to Democrats in the Congress and the White House, Obama upholds the idea to negotiate compromises to satisfy those in both parties. But Obama`s ideology on the economy has run into a bulwark recently. 


Despite having only been in office for a little over a week, President Obama has already netted heated criticism from conservative Republicans on the extent of his 825 billion dollar stimulus package. The package initially proposed by Obama entailed that 120 billion dollars is to be allocated to public schools. The remaining 705 billion is purported to aid Medicaid, Unemployment, public transit, waterworks, and infrastructure. However from the onset of the proceedings, Republican legislators believed the bill to be just another measure to add to our growing deficit. Even some of his proponents in the G.O.P. had misgivings over the exorbitant price tag, and thus far, Congress has remained at an impasse in green lighting the legislation.  


With the tensions high and the timetable growing ever smaller, the President met with Republican Party leaders on Tuesday to discuss bilateral negotiations to see the bill pass. Coincidentally, the heads within the G.O.P. urged their fellow party members to oppose the President`s provisions just hours prior to their engagement with Obama.


Though conditioned to thwart any of Obama`s typical liberal big government spending ? ideas, most Congressmen remained silent once it came to the floor`s preliminary vote. While some Republicans are willing to block Obama`s plan, many see the problem with the vote not coming from the President himself but with House Democrats.


Obama had already compromised in abandoning one key concept of the plan on Monday`s hearings: funding State-run family planning programs.  Democrats in Congress disagreed with Obama`s concession, citing the results of not passing the bill would end up costing the country more in the long run. One item on the bill Congressional Democrats endorsed was the funding for renovating the National Mall in Washington D.C. Many Republicans, including Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, denounced the idea as a shameful waste of valuable bailout money. But in the same vein however, two proposals under review put forth by John Ensign, Republican senator from Nevada, concerned losing more tax dollars to big corporations. One proposal was a tax break mandated toward companies paying down debts, while the other dealt with providing tax holidays for businesses willing to reinvest capital domestically instead of abroad.   


During the closed-door hearings, Obama swore to accept certain changes in his plan, and even attempted to sway dissenters with the idea similarly proposed by Ronald Reagan in his administration. Obama stayed adamant in the idea that relief should be provided to the lowest-income taxpayers and tax dollars must be reinvested in the government to create new jobs. Still when all is said and done, Obama`s plan, as written, would cost an estimated 550 billion dollars in spending and another 275 billion in tax breaks for Americans.


In addition to Obama`s plan, the panel`s head Republican Senator, Chuck Grassley from Iowa, forwarded the plan to include a new tax cut on upper middle-class Americans at the tune of 70 billion dollars for the next two years. Though fazed at the stalemate in the proceedings, Democratic legislators promised to have the bill ready for Obama`s signature by the middle of February.


On Wednesday, Obama submitted the revised bill to the House of Representatives where, without the harping of Senate Republicans and a Democrat majority, he hoped would be passed immediately. After deducting the funds from his abandoned proposal, the final package proposal came to 219 billion dollars. With a vote of 244 for to 188 against, the stimulus package was passed. After the vote was cast, Treasurer Summers restated his claim that this was a profound step toward creating millions of new jobs. Before the bill can be signed into effect, it must first survive the embattled Senate floor and the Republicans standing in its way. Will G.O.P. senators defy party lines? Only time can tell.   



The Associated Press