Conference

by Brien Jackson

On centrists, Jon Chait writes:

They took a $900 billion stimulus and decided to knock off a nice round hundred billion dollars because that shows they’re centrist. If the House had passed a $1 trillion bill, they would have decided $900 billion was the perfect figure. This is essentially the same way they operated with the Bush tax cuts.

Of course, when Senate centrists did knock down the cost of the Bush tax cuts a bit, and thus declared that centrism has prevailed, Republicans just turned around in conference committee and made the spending cuts meaningless. For technical reasons, I don’t think Democrats can do the same thing this time. But I do think they can reverse the state budget aid cuts, which is the most damaging cut the centrists imposed, and swap it for something else. In fact I think a conference committee could undo a lot of the damage, and probably bring the price tag up a bit.

The thing to pay attention to now is the Congressional wrangling over the conference process. The Senate wants the House to pass their bill in full, and the House wants to go to Congress, where Pelosi will likely stuff the negotiating team and demand more, well, stimulus. I suspect that some of the more egregious cuts; aid to states, school construction, and food stamps, will get back into the final version and some of the more odious ta credits will be removed. The centrists may not like that, but I just don’t see what they’re going to do about it. See, for example, this:

In other words, there’s really no constituency for opposing the stimulus bill. The American public, by and large, want the government to pass something, the business community, certainly not looking forward to a prolonged recession, wants the bill to pass, and wingnuts listening to the radio, and journalists yapping on teevee, are a rather small group of people to pander to. So I just don’t see the Collins-Nelson-Specter axis actually opposing the bill at the end of the day, certainly not if it means the bill actually fails, and they have to take the fall for defeating it.

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