In 1993, President Clinton pushed an economic stimulus package of the then-large amount of $35 billion. Promising to “focus like a laser beam” on the economy, he consulted with his Democratic majorities in both houses in formulating his proposal.
As a result, it was loaded with every possible liberal Democratic spending item and crammed with pork targeted at specific Democratic House districts. Repelled by the pork, not a single Republican backed the bill and, with national public opinion turning against it because of the spending, it failed.
President Obama faces a similar challenge. He needs to re-craft his stimulus package from the ground up. Merely adding a homebuyer tax credit or cutting some spending is not going to be enough. He needs to change a spending bill into a tax cut bill. Republicans will take care not to be enticed by limited concessions.
Obama needs to decide, finally, who he is: a liberal Democrat or a centrist.