- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 8, 2009

House and Senate lawmakers — who will hammer out the details of a more than $800 billion stimulus package this week — dug in along partisan lines Sunday morning and staked out positions on a new financial bailout plan that could reach up to $500 billion.

Republican congressmen attacked the stimulus plan, which ranges between $820 billion and $827 billion, as wasteful spending that will not help the nation’s troubled economy.

“The worn-out idea that the American people are tired of is runaway spending,” Rep. Mike Pence, Indiana Republican and House Republican Conference chairman, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “That’s why support for the stimulus is collapsing by the hour.”

White House economic adviser Larry Summers continued the Obama team’s stern tack in supporting the stimulus bill, criticizing Republicans for overseeing massive increases in government spending over much of the past eight years.

“Those who presided over the last eight years … don’t seem to be in a strong position to lecture about the lessons of history,” Mr. Summers said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”

President Obama has asked for a stimulus package by Feb. 16. Preliminary deadlines for passage have frequently been pushed back — including a pending Senate vote on the stimulus package that was expected to happen last week.

Mr. Summers also talked about some of the broad strokes expected in the second financial bailout bill, which Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner is expected to unveil this week.

“The focus is going to be on increasing the flow of credit and doing it with transparency and doing it with accountability for those who receive support,” Mr. Summers said.

Democratic senators prepared their line of defense for the second bailout plan, which could reach up to $500 billion and include money to buy bad mortgages and insure banks.

“We’ve got to characterize this as not about saving the banks, but as about saving the economy,” Rep. Claire McCaskill, Missouri Democrat, said on “Meet the Press.”

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