Today Barack Obama announced a cap on salaries for executives of companies that receive bailouts, and he briefly addressed the ongoing debate over the Obama-Reid-Pelosi spending plan. Interestingly, the word 'bipartisan' never crossed his lips. Nor did he speak about a desire to bring both parties together on a consensus plan. Instead, he rejected criticism of the current spending bill, and retreated to a position we have seen before:
Now, in the past few days, I’ve heard criticisms that this plan is somehow wanting, and these criticisms echo the very same failed economic theories that led us into this crisis in the first place, the notion that tax cuts alone will solve all our problems, that we can ignore fundamental challenges like energy independence and the high cost of health care, that we can somehow deal with this in a piecemeal fashion and still expect our economy and our country to thrive.
I reject those theories. And so did the American people when they went to the polls in November and voted resoundingly for change.
So I urge members of Congress to act without delay. No plan is perfect, and we should work to make it stronger. No one’s more committed to making it stronger than me, but let’s not make the perfect the enemy of the essential. Let’s show people all over the country who are looking for leadership in this difficult time that we are equal to the task.
According to Obama, the debate over this spending plan was essentially solved when the American people voted. But unless I am very much mistaken, Obama campaigned on a tax cut for 95 percent of working Americans, and on a promise to reduce federal spending by going through the budget line-by-line to cut waste. If he had talked about kicking off his presidency with a $900 billion spending plan that couldn't attract a single vote from the other side, Tom Daschle, Tim Geithner, and Nancy Killefer might still be in the dark about their tax problems.
This seems to be the first time in recent memory that Obama has talked about this issue without mentioning the importance of bringing Republicans on board. Was that an oversight, or does it signal a change in strategy? Perhaps he's decided it's more important to keep liberals in line by giving them the spending he wants, than to try to bring Republicans on board.
If so, perhaps Nancy Pelosi has won the struggle.