David Petraeus Shows He Has Learned the Leadership Secrets of William Westmoreland
links for 2008-01-17

Stan Collender on the Likelihood of No Stimulus Package

Stan writes:

Actually, the column is no longer called “Budget Battles” and it’s no longer published by http://nationaljournal.com. After more than a decade at NJ, I will now be writing a weekly column for Roll Call called “Fiscal Fitness.” As you might imagine, I’m very excited about this and am really looking forward to reaching Roll Call’s audience. Tomorrow’s “Fiscal Fitness” is below. Enjoy (I hope).

A big loss for the National Journal, IMHO.

Here's the substance:

In the current political environment, the White House and Congress would have trouble agreeing on legislation reaffirming that today is Tuesday, especially if tax and spending changes were included in the bill. So why does anyone think an economic stimulus package, which will be nothing but tax and spending, is a sure thing?... [T]he Bush administration has clearly decided that its legacy is not getting its own policies enacted, but rather preventing Congressional Democrats from enacting their own.... Congressional Democrats have less incentive to compromise with the White House in 2008 than they had in 2007.... Congressional Republicans do not want to make it easy for the Democratic majority to get anything done....

These very poor prospects for a stimulus bill may not be readily apparent at the start of the year. The president will likely announce a specific proposal close to or during his State of the Union Address.... Democrats either will try to match the White House plan by revealing their ow.... Wall Street might cheer because in early February it will look like the stimulus die has been cast. But that look will definitely be deceiving. The Bush plan will likely include tax cuts that are anathema to Democrats and the Democratic plan will include provisions the White House won’t accept... nothing will be enacted.

But the expectation that something could happen might extend a bit longer. A budget resolution can’t be filibustered in the Senate and can’t be vetoed by the president, so it may be the one time all year Democrats have the ability to put their plan on a legislative pedestal for all to see. But as was the case last year after the budget resolution was adopted, that will bring threats of filibusters and vetoes. These should be taken seriously: much of what will be needed to implement the budget resolution’s policies will be subject to a filibuster and everything could be vetoed.

That means the budget resolution could be the high-water mark of the stimulus debate. This will all change if the economy gets so much worse that the White House and Congress can’t afford not to do something...