Fight over stimulus bill intensifies

02/05/09 Mitch E. Perry
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A bipartisan group of U.S. senators met privately to discuss cuts to the proposed $900 billion economic stimulus package as President Barack Obama received criticism that he hasn’t been doing to enough to lead on the issue.

The day began with the president writing an opinion piece in the Washington Post criticizing those who say there should be more tax cuts, or a smaller package. While visiting the Energy Department, Obama said the tussle over the stimulus bill has real-world implications.

Obama said the stimulus plan isn’t perfect but it ”is the right one.”

Maine Republican Susan Collins, said today lawmakers are “very leery of having an enormous package” that is “just a collection of everyone’s favorite programs.” Collins said the bipartisan group hasn’t decided how much they will seek to cut. She said she would not support a plan as large as the $819 billion package approved last month by the House of Representatives.

In an effort to sell the bill, Melody Barnes, the director ofthe White House Domestic Policy Council, held a conference call with reporters in the Southeast this afternoon. She was asked if money will be sent to the states, or directly to cities and counties. But Barnes could not give a direct breakdown of the division between state and local funding.

When asked about transparency of the projects that have or will be in the stimulus bill, Barnes said the Obama team is working on that right now.

Barnes didn’t reveal much about what types of reductions are in the bill, but defended the overall size of the package.

Meanwhile South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham unveiled his own stimulus plan today; it would cost less than half the amount of the president’s.

In speaking with Fox News, Graham blasted the president for being “AWOL” in terms of leadership.

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