- The Washington Times - Monday, February 2, 2009

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Capitol Hill Democrats, not Republicans, are breaking with President Obama over his call to trim excessive spending and add tax cuts in the economic stimulus.

“I hope that he’s going to be able to put the Democratic leaders of the House and Senate in line,” the Kentucky Republican said, adding he hopes that is the thrust of Mr. Obama’s meeting with Democratic leaders Monday.

“He needs to talk to them. He needs to let them know that the measures that they are moving forward don’t meet his own standard,” Mr. McConnell told reporters at the Capitol. “Unfortunately, at least to this point, it appears the Democratic leadership has not gotten the memo, or the message, if you will, from the president.”

The stimulus is expected to grow to more than $900 billion in the Senate, where Republicans are pushing for more tax cuts for businesses and middle-income Americans while opposing what they see as lavish spending on Democratic pet projects.

Not a single Republican voted for the $819 billion version the House passed last week.

Mr. McConnell cited Mr. Obama’s remarks Sunday that the bill needs to be improved.

“It has no earmarks. We are going to be trimming out things that are not relevant to putting people back to work right now,” Mr. Obama said in a live pre-Super Bowl interview on NBC.

“Look, the important thing is getting the thing passed,” he said. “And I’ve done extraordinary outreach, I think, to Republicans because they have some good ideas and I want to make sure those ideas are incorporated.”

Mr. McConnell said Republicans “couldn’t agree more.”

“That’s exactly where we need to end up. Of course, that’s not where we are right now,” Mr. McConnell said. “I hope [the president] can get through to them that the way to build this package is, indeed, to do it on a bipartisan basis, which doesn’t mean just talking to us, but including ideas that we think would work.”

He said they also must avoid adding to the packages price tag - and the federal debt - with spending that will not boost the economy.

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