- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 25, 2009

Republican leaders said Sunday they are unhappy with the political tack Democrats have taken in pushing the $825 billion economic stimulus plan and will vote against the bill without additional tax breaks.

Sen. John McCain Sunday, Arizona Republican and one of President Obamas closest links to the Republican Party, said he would vote against the stimulus bill in its current form.

“As it stands now, I would not [vote for the bill],” Mr. McCain said on “Fox News Sunday.” “Republicans have not been brought in to the degree that we should be.”

Mr. Obama met with Republican leaders Friday and is planning a round of meetings with congressional leaders from both parties this week as part of his push for the plan.

House Minority Leader John Boehner, Ohio Republican, said the plan must include more tax relief before House Republicans will support the plan — Republicans are proposing returning up $3,200 to tax filers, he said.

“I think a lot of Republicans will vote no because it’s a lot of wasteful Washington spending, Mr. Boehner said on “Meet the Press” on Sunday.

Of the $825 billion included in Mr. Obama’s stimulus plan, $275 billion would be paid out in tax relief, and $550 billion would go to new spending.

Republicans have said the stimulus plan, in combination with the round of economic bailouts approved late last year, would saddle future generations with $2 trillion in debt.

But many of the nation’s ailing financial institutions have said the $700 billion in bailout funds passed last year will not be enough to sustain them.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, told ABCs “This Week With George Stephanopoulos” that she would consider approving additional bailout funds to open up the nation’s credit markets as long as the government has an increased stake in how that money is spent.

Mr. Obama’s top economic adviser, Larry Summers, said the president has worked hard to craft a compromise plan that balances tax cuts, job protection and infrastructure spending.

“Were inheriting the kind of situation that requires the decisive action that [Mr. Obama’s] been working with Congress to produce,” Mr. Summers said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Republicans, in a distinct minority on Capitol Hill following the November elections, have split with Democrats in trying to maintain the tax cuts passed by the Bush administration, which Mr. Obama has promised to repeal.

“There’s no question that it has to be repealed in the long term,” Mr. Summers said. “What the timing will be is something that’s going to have to be worked out through the legislative process.”

Democratic senators have defended the process to fast-track the stimulus plan for Mr. Obama’s approval by mid-February.

“I think you’re going to find a large number of Republicans voting for this package. I regret that Mr. McCain says he is not,” said Sen. Charles Schumer, New York Democrat, on “Fox News Sunday.”

Mr. McCain, long considered a maverick in his own party, said he would continue to lead the “loyal opposition” to the Democratic majority, but was sympathetic to his former opponent’s challenges.

“I don’t have to tell anyone in America this president faces greater challenge than any, probably going back to Abe Lincoln,” Mr. McCain said.

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