Reid: Second stimulus can wait

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Tuesday threw cold water on the idea of Senate passage of a second economic stimulus plan, saying that the first plan needs more time to work.

Speaking at a midday press conference, Reid batted down speculation that a second plan could quickly pass through Congress now that Democrats have 60 seats with the swearing-in of Sen. Al Franken.

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The majority leader noted that only a little more than 10 percent of the initial stimulus money has been distributed, and that more evidence is needed of its success.

“As far as I'm concerned, there's no showing to me that another stimulus is needed,” Reid said. “Things are -- things, as [Federal Reserve Bank Chairman Ben] Bernanke said, the crops have been planted, the shoots are now appearing above the ground.  And that certainly is evident based on the fact that slightly over 10 percent of the dollars are out among the people.”

Momentum has been slowly circling in the House for a second stimulus to succeed the $787 billion plan passed in the winter. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) took a cautious note on Tuesday, saying like Reid that “I don't think we can yet make a determination as to whether (the first stimulus) has been successful.”

But, Hoyer added, "I think we need to be open to whether we need further action,” prompting Senate reporters to throw the question at Reid.

Republicans have been pounding Democrats over the lack of immediate, clear success of the stimulus, pointing at the slow pace of the money’s distribution and continuing unemployment figures.

Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) used that argument to urge a go-slow approach on health care reform in a Senate floor speech Tuesday, accusing Democrats of trying to repeat a “rush and spend” approach they used with the first stimulus.

“They said that if the stimulus passed, unemployment wouldn’t rise above eight percent. Unemployment is now approaching 10 percent. They said the stimulus was necessary to jump-start the economy. Yet now, with about a half million jobs lost every month, they’ve started to admit that they simply ‘misread’ the economy,” McConnell said.