The Washington Times - January 6, 2009, 04:37PM




As Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was winding down a brief press conference in the Capitol yesterday, reporters flung a final volley of questions at him all at once, seeking more details on a meeting with President-elect Barack Obama.

The question that came out the loudest was, “Senator Reid, what kind of range are you looking at for the size of the stimulus after your talks today?”

The Obama transition office has said the economic spending bill will cost between $675 billion and $775 billion. But Mr. Reid, a Democrat from Nevada, gave a different answer.

“We have not received, of course, the exact package from the president-elect and his folks, but he has indicated that there’s at least 20 economists that he’s talked with, and all but one of those believe it should be from $800 billion to $1.2 or $1.3 trillion,” Mr. Reid said.

A Reid spokesman insisted today that this was not a contradiction of the president-elect, but rather a statement of advice given by economists. 

And Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs told Bloomberg News that “the $800 billion is not far from the upper end that we’ve talked about” and that the “number hasn’t changed.”

Mr. Gibbs said that during Mr. Obama’s meeting with Democratic and Republican leaders, “the point that he was making was simply that this is a range of economists that have been polled in terms of what needs to happen to get this economy moving again, but he also added that this is not what he’s put forth.”

One Republican aide on the Hill told me it would be hard for the president-elect to push for nearly a half-trillion dollars more than he’s so far stated, but said he thought it odd that Mr. Reid would make the statement he did.