President-elect Barack Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden are meeting with the Democratic and Republican leaders of the House and Senate today at 3:15 p.m.
Mr. Obama will meet privately with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, before the wider bipartisan, bicameral meeting, which will take place in the LBJ Room inside the Capitol.
The president-elect, who dropped off his daughters Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, at school in Northwest this morning (traveling without a protective pool), is in Washington for his first full day back from vacation. He and his family left Hawaii on Thursday and arrived in Chicago on Friday.
Mr. Obama was set for an 11 a.m. photo op with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, before going to his transition offices for a midday meeting with his economic team.
When Mr. Obama comes to the Capitol for his afternoon meeting, he’ll be talking up his $700 to $800 billion economic stimulus plan, which has been dubbed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Package. Mr. Obama wants Republican buy-in, and to that end he is proposing that $300 billion of the stimulus be used for tax cuts and tax incentives.
Republicans were concerned at the end of last week that Democratic leaders were going to ram what could end up being a $1 trillion expenditure through the Congress in time for Mr. Obama’s inauguration two weeks from tomorrow.
GOP concern over that has eased somewhat over the weekend, after House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, said on TV yesterday that he expects the stimulus to more realistically be ready for Mr. Obama’s signature near the end of February.
But the minority still wants to hear if Mrs. Pelosi plans to hold more hearings on the bill beyond this Wednesday’s in the House Steering Committee, and they want Democrats to allow several days for lawmakers to digest and debate the language in the final bill.
Republicans remain worried that many of the $500 rebates that make up part of the tax cut, and other refunds, will be given to the 57 million or so tax filers (out of roughly 157 million) who end up paying no federal income tax at the end of the year.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, has some tax cut ideas of his own that revolve around lowering the tax rate from 25 percent to 15 percent for incomes between $31,000 and $77,000.