I may have witnessed a glimmer of hope for a productive, bipartisan solution to the stimulus bill quandary when Sen. Ben Nelson (D – Neb) came forward to speak about the upcoming Senate debate on the legislation.
“What I’m hoping to do is bring together a bipartisan group of Republicans and Democrats and offer changes that will attract others and improve the bill,” he told FOX News. “People want this to succeed.”
Asked how many Republicans he can get to vote for the bill, Nelson said he didn’t even know how many Democrats would vote for it.
Here’s the bottom line, though we really shouldn’t have to go through it again. It’s all about the jobs. The Republicans can stop harping about some minimum amount of tax cuts. They’re really nice, but during times of economic and employment uncertainty, people will put that extra money in the bank or pay off their debt. Not a lot of stimulus there, really. And the Democrats can put off their wish list of progressive agenda items for a few weeks. You’ve already shown you can railroad through pretty much anything you like now. As long as people are losing their jobs or worrying about losing them, the economy will continue to tank. Every element of the stimulus bill should be directed at efforts which are most likely to produce or retain the largest number of jobs in the immediate future.
It’s time for the Senate to have a crack at this, and it sounds as if Senator Nelson is on the right track. A significantly smaller bill which serves the above purposes will attract support from both sides of the aisle. If they can then work with the House for a combined, final version that meets these criteria, we can get this wrapped up in a reasonable amount of time. Let’s hope that reason prevails and our new Congress and President can deliver what’s needed for the country in a timely fashion.