A Little Help from His Friends?

The Democrats are on a roll. They have upped the stimulus package from $775 billion to $825 billion, and while tax cuts made up roughly 40 percent of the plan last week, the new draft spends nearly twice as much as it gives away in tax relief. Let's make it clear that the TARP vote was pretty partisan, so knowing the stimulus will pass, many Republicans can vote against it like they did with the bailout vote yesterday.

As I mentioned here previously, no sooner had Barack Obama indicated he wasn't interested in "looking back" to investigate possible war crimes by the Bush administration than congressional Democrats on the Judiciary Committee released their report about why it is necessary — followed up today by Rep. John Conyers Jr.’s (D-Mich.) op-ed in The Washington Post on the same subject.

Yesterday Obama told the Post he wasn't interested in proceeding immediately with the controversial legislation known as "card-check" that labor is seeking, though he does support it. "If we're losing half a million jobs a month, then there are no jobs to unionize, so my focus first is on those key economic priority items I just mentioned," Obama said. OK, Democrats, did you hear him? I imagine it will be a few more hours before someone starts the pushback about how this is as urgent as the stimulus.

Finally, in the last few months Obama has indicated he would let the Bush tax cuts lapse in 2010, rather than roll them back now. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), however, wants them repealed now. Congressional Republicans say they have been left out of the negotiations, where Democrats prevailed upon Obama to reduce the tax cuts in the stimulus package, and House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) declared himself "shocked" yesterday at the new plan. "Oh, my God," were his other words.

If Obama wants that big, bipartisan buy-in on the unprecedented stimulus package — so he has some friends if it doesn't exactly turn things around immediately — he better start making some friends across the aisle. And Republicans, looking for things to unite the opposition, will want more than talking.

HOW DOES THE STIMULUS LOOK NOW? WILL IT CREATE ENOUGH JOBS? Ask A.B. returns Monday, Jan. 19. Please join my weekly video Q&A by sending your questions and comments to askab@thehill.com. Thank you.

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