- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 8, 2009

Republican congressional leaders and a key House Democrat voiced misgivings — but for different reasons — Sunday morning over the Senate version of an economic recovery plan costing more than $800 billion, while a Republican senator said he expects the stimulus package to pass.

Sen. John Ensign of Nevada and Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana, both members of the Republican leadership, complained that the legislation has too much spending and not enough tax cuts.

A top House Democrat, Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts, says the Senate bill cuts spending necessary to protect the jobs of policemen and firefighters. The Senate cut $40 billion in aid to state governments contained in a House version of the legislation.

Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, says he fully expects President Obama‘s stimulus package to pass the Senate, but he warns that it could damage the U.S. economy in the future.

Mr. Cornyn argued that the stimulus package is loaded down with pet Democratic spending packages and is, in Mr. Cornyn’s words, “just spending as far as the eye can see.”

A stark critic of Mr. Obama’s approach to righting the badly damaged economy, Mr. Cornyn says he believes passage of the $800-plus billion measure with minimal Republican support must be a major disappointment to Mr. Obama. The new president has vowed to take the debilitating partisan heat out of Washington politics.

The Senate is expected to pass its bill on Tuesday. It then has to be reconciled with the House version.

Meanwhile, one of Mr. Obama’s top economic advisers warned that the U.S. economy is in the worst shape that most economists have ever experienced, and says aggressive action must be taken to turn it around.

The director of the White House National Economic Council, Lawrence Summers, said that a “large, forthright” approach is needed.

Mr. Summers said more federal money needs to be funneled to state and local governments to ward off a downward spiral that he warned could be catastrophic.

Failure to do that, Mr. Summers said, could lead to a vicious cycle of layoffs, falling home values, lower property tax revenues and then even more layoffs.

Mr. Ensign, Mr. Pence and Mr. Frank spoke on NBC’s “Meet the Press”; Mr. Cornyn, on “Fox News Sunday”; and Mr. Summers, on ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos.”

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