Leader Links: January 28, 2009

‘STIMULUS' BILL... Obama plan hits House floor today President Barack Obama's economy recovery plan hits the House floor Wednesday after a day of final adjustments by Democrats, adding more tax relief in the Senate and excising a handful of expenditures that have drawn the ire of conservatives. Stimulus Bill Near $900 Billion The U.S. economic stimulus package neared $900 billion in the Senate, as President Barack Obama wooed Republicans ahead of an expected House vote Wednesday. Boehner Urges GOP Opposition to Stimulus Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) urged his Conference Tuesday morning to vote against the economic stimulus bill if the measure stays in its current form, according to sources. Statement of Republican Policy on ‘Stimulus' Bill Economic stimulus proposals should focus on job creation, small business tax relief and putting money back into the pockets of hard-working Americans. H.R. 1 fails these important tests and should be defeated. Despite Bumps, Outreach to Continue Republican sources insisted that while GOP Members genuinely appreciated Obama's gesture in meeting with them in the Capitol, they are unable to back stimulus legislation they consider too expensive, no matter how nice the president is. Democrats Among Stimulus Skeptics Republican criticism of the stimulus package that the House will vote on tonight has focused on its soaring price tag, but some Democrats on Capitol Hill and other administration supporters are voicing a separate critique: that the plan may fall short in its broader goal of transforming the American economy over the long term. Republicans Object to Stimulus Dollars for ACORN Republican lawmakers are raising concerns that ACORN, the low-income advocacy group under investigation for voter registration fraud, could be eligible for billions in aid from the economic stimulus proposal working its way through the House. Birth control funding taken out of stimulus President Barack Obama called House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) on Monday and asked him to strip funding for birth control out of the $825 billion economic stimulus legislation that is set for a House vote on Wednesday. AMT Patch Slapped on Tax Portion of Stimulus Senate tax writers bulked up their economic stimulus plan by $70 billion Tuesday, adding a one-year "patch" to reduce the reach of the alternative minimum tax and picking up a modicum of GOP support that will help speed its passage next week. You won't believe what's in that stimulus bill This is a political wonder that manages to spend money on just about every pent-up Democratic proposal of the last 40 years. We've looked it over, and even we can't quite believe it. An overoptimistic stimulus plan The Congressional Budget Office started digging into this immense pile of, uh, deficit spending, and what it found would discourage even a Reagan-caliber optimist 'Stimulus' package will trigger all sorts of permanent costs Even those who asked for the money acknowledge it will be difficult to cut later. IN OTHER NEWS... Republicans find their voice Congressional Republicans, who only weeks ago were sheepish about their own electoral failures and cowed by Obama's polish and popularity, are suddenly punching back - hard - on both sides of the Capitol. Keynes makes a comeback, but his ideas are still wrong Using quaint Keynesian arguments to rationalize heavy spending is nothing new. But its resurgent popularity is somewhat surprising. Puerto Rico Turns Its Back on Guantanamo Bay Prisoners A spokeswoman for Puerto Rican Gov. Luis Fortuno, Michelle Cuevas, said Tuesday that he would oppose any proposal to hold Guantanamo Bay prisoners in the U.S. island territory. House Republicans Slam Efforts to Delay DTV Switch A final vote on legislation to delay the digital television transition has been postponed until Wednesday morning, but House members braved a Washington, D.C. ice storm Tuesday night for a partisan battle over the impending switch. Salazar says limits needed on offshore drilling In an interview with The Associated Press, Salazar indicated the drilling plan the Bush administration left on his desk likely will be scrapped. Unemployment Rises in Every State State unemployment rates increased across the country in December, according to a Labor Department report released Tuesday that underscores how the recession has spared few industries or regions. Gates: Economy will curtail defense spending Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Tuesday warned that the defense funding "spigot" is closing in the face of a national economic crisis and an acute problem with the Pentagon's weapons-buying practices. Hoyer Wants Fast Action on D.C. Bill House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) pledged Tuesday to quickly bring the District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act to the floor, while Members reignited a debate over the constitutionality of giving the city a Congressional vote via statute.