- The Washington Times - Monday, January 26, 2009

Sen. John McCain said he plans to vote against President Obama’s economic stimulus plan, expressing frustration with a lack of bipartisanship in crafting the $825 billion package and leaving open the chance of a filibuster unless more tax breaks are included.

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

When asked by Fox News host Chris Wallace whether he would filibuster the measure, Mr. McCain hedged, saying, “Well, let’s - I mean, I want us all to sit down and negotiate.” He added that he wants the new administration to give more credence to Republican proposals.

“So far, as far as I can tell, no Republican proposal has been incorporated,” he said. “Maybe there has been. I just may have missed it. But clearly, we need to have serious negotiations.”

But Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said the new administration has worked hard to include Republican priorities in the plan, which Mr. Obama detailed in his first Saturday radio/video address as president.

“I, for one, personally was on the phone with six Republican senators, key Republican senators, asking what they need, what they want. And we compromised ahead of time, in terms of what we put in the bill, number one,” Mr. Biden said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

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 A. Boehner of Ohio said Republicans will not support the plan unless it includes more tax relief, although his chamber’s rules give him much less clout than Senate Republicans have. He said one proposal that House Republicans would push is a refund of up to $3,200 to tax filers.

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

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

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

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

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

“There’s no question that it has to be repealed in the long term,” said Mr. Summers, chairman of the National Economic Council. “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,” Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, said on “Fox News Sunday.”

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” that she would consider approving even more 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.

Asked by host George Stephanopoulos whether she would support calls for additional bailout money for the nation’s financial institutions, she broadly supported the idea, but did not cite a price tag.

“I’m open to resolving the financial crisis in our country,” said Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat. “Whatever we have to do will have to be clearly explained to Congress and to the American people as to what the purpose of the money is, why it’s urgent, and then accountability for it as it is distributed.”


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