Will the Stimulus Bill be stopped?
President Barack Obama's presidential campaign prided itself on being a grassroots effort. Obama aimed to inspire millions of Americans to engage in the political process, some for the first time, to help bring about change. But the Obama Administration and Congressional Democrats may be learning now that there is a flip side to inspiring Americans to action. If they don't get what they want, they will let their elected officials know about it.
Switchboard operators at the Capitol say that frustrated voters are jamming phone lines with calls to Senators and Congressmen against Obama's and the Democrats' proposed economic stimulus plan. Some Senators report that calls to their offices about the plan are running in the hundreds per day, up from just a handful last month. Voters are upset both at the cost of the plan, which is at over $900 billion currently, and the recent tax troubles of Obama Administration nominees, which is feeding the perception that there are different sets of rules for the well connected and the ordinary citizen. . . .
At this crucial juncture in the push to pass an economic recovery package, President Barack Obama finds himself in the most unlikely of places: He is losing the message war.
Despite Obama’s sky-high personal approval ratings, polls show support has declined for his stimulus bill since Republicans and their conservative talk-radio allies began railing against what they labeled as pork barrel spending within it.
The sheer size of it — hovering at about $900 billion — has prompted more protests that are now causing some moderate and conservative Democrats to flinch and, worse, hesitate.
The anxiety over lost momentum seemed almost palpable this week as the president in television interviews voiced frustration with his White House’s progress and the way his recovery program was being demonized as a Democratic spending frenzy.
In Obama’s own words in an NBC interview, it’s his job to “get this thing back on track.”
Already, he’s trying — rolling out Michelle Obama to talk stimulus Wednesday, Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday (at a train station, no less) and sitting down with key senators one-on-one.
But this is unfamiliar turf for a team that achieved near epic status for its communication skills during the presidential campaign. It has rarely ever had to play catch-up. . . .