Panel on Possible Stimulus Deal

Panel on Possible Stimulus Deal

Special Report With Bret Baier - February 6, 2009

BAIER: Charles, a possible deal? What do you think about all this back and forth up on Capitol Hill?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, it looks as if the Democratic strategy is to go for a gang of two or three on the Republican side. They apparently have a couple who will come over, as we just heard.

And what they'll end up with is a package which is, I think, essentially what the Democrats had proposed with cosmetic changes. If you end up at $830 billion or so, you have got a Democratic package.

The problem is that by trying to strip out small elements, as Collins and Specter have done, you are conceding the premise. And the premise is that this huge, pork-laden package, which is with all kinds of arbitrary numbers and programs, is the legitimate baseline.

And what's going to happen in the future is that in two years all of this stuff is not going to expire. It is going to be a new baseline. It is going to be impossible to shrink it, and we're going to have a huge expansion of government as a result of this.

BAIER: Juan, a much different tone from President Obama last night, even today. Was there a sense that the White House was losing this for a while?

JUAN WILLIAMS, SENIOR CORRESPONDENT, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: Oh, yes. And I think that they have the sense that they had been losing and that he needed to take the lead.

And I think there is a particular sense of discontent with Harry Reid's leadership in the Senate, that they wanted something stronger and clearer. They didn't imagine that they would have to be battling to hold on to Democrats. They didn't think that was going to be part of the deal.

And today we heard from Senator Dianne Feinstein of California that she was having doubts about this because she said she didn't see how many jobs would actually be created.

When you hear that kind of language, it suggests that the Democrats are not holding together, and that is a disappointment to the White House.

And so President Obama was aggressive last night at the retreat for the House Democrats, and today in announcing his economic advisory board.

Again, he came out very strong, even mocking in terms of tone, and saying, you know what? People need jobs. You look at the job losses over January, the worst in 35 years or so. How can people not be reacting?

I think he feels somewhat isolated, as if he doesn't have the political support that he thought would be sure in this moment of what he has deemed an economic crisis.

BILL SAMMON, WASHINGTON DEPUTY MANAGING EDITOR, FOX NEWS: It is useful to link the stimulus to the jobless numbers, because that's very powerful and we're getting scary numbers out today. He's going out to a couple cities next week where the jobless numbers have gone from the single digits to the double digits, and that will be very powerful.

But it's possible to go too far on that front and cross the line into fear-mongering. And when Obama talks about catastrophe, when Obama talks about a recession that will never end if we don't pass-think about that. That's getting rid of the business cycle. We're going to have a recession without end.

I think Americans resent that. And so he has to be very careful not to push that too far.

So on one hand you have Democrats trying to influence public opinion by talking about jobless numbers. On the other hand you have Republicans trying to influence public opinion by talking about all the junk that is in this bill.

And the republic is coming away with the impression that this is a trillion dollar turkey. You can shave a $100 billion off of it, and we're suddenly supposed to feel good about that. We start with $900 or a trillion, and it comes down to $800 billion, and that's suddenly a bargain.

I still think we're a long way from getting this thing passed. I'm glad we're exercising restraint on this network and saying it's very tentative, because these things happen where they talk about-"We have an immigration deal," and then it falls apart, or "We have a TARP deal," and it falls apart. So I'm waiting.

BAIER: That's a great point. The immigration negotiations, Charles, it brings up that the Bush administration went to these moderates to make that happen. It's much like this Obama administration is going to the few people who are controlling this debate.

KRAUTHAMMER: And the gangs are always ad hoc. It can be a gang of 14 or 20, or now down to two. But it's always ad hoc. It's undisciplined. It doesn't have any structure. And it depends on the whims of an Arlen Specter and a Susan Collins, which is not exactly an element that you can predict or count on.

WILLIAMS: What a devastating defeat this would be for the new president. With all the good will he has, it's still the case that the polls indicate the American people prefer the tax cuts to the spending.

Special Report With Bret Baier


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