The Wall Street Journal says that Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, and Arlen Specter may have been snookered. Now that the Senate has passed a slimmed-down porked up version of the Obama-Reid-Pelosi debt spending plan, the White House is pushing to add back many of the items that it cut out to get their support:
The White House is seeking to restore funding cut by the Senate for schools, health insurance and computerizing health records as the economic-stimulus plan headed into a final round of negotiations in Congress, with top lawmakers struggling to bring the price of the two-year package down to $800 billion.
That would be well below the $838.2 billion plan approved Tuesday by the Senate on a 61-37 vote, but would reflect pressure from influential moderates in the Senate to hold down costs. As lawmakers meet to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the legislation, the White House's effort to reshape it is leading to skirmishes among House and Senate Democrats, as well as with the moderate Republicans and Democrats who pushed to cut the size of the original Senate package.
There's even some whispering that House Democrats may be so addicted to spending that they'll insist on adding the money back at the risk of scuttling the package. We'll know soon enough, since Democrats are going back on their word to bring openness and transparency to government.
And there's one other thing to keep in mind: Congress has still not passed the omnibus appropriations bill needed to fund the government for 2009. Drafting was complete weeks ago, and as of February 2, the total pricetag was reported to be around $410 billion. Expect a near dollar-to-dollar correlation between what was 'cut out' of this debt spending plan and what is added to that omnibus.