Hardball Time: Ditch the Stimulus

No more Mr. Nice Guy.

Now that, as Brian Beutler well puts it, the Obama Administration has decided to outsource the stimulus decision to Ben Nelson and Susan Collins, it might be well to completely change the strategy. To wit: Go with No More Mr. Nice Guy.

The administration should use its supposed vaunted community organizing to build public pressure for its version of the stimulus, and then Obama, Pelosi, and Reid should hold a press conference where they say:

1) The only reason why the bill has not passed and Americans have not gotten economic relief is because of the Republican Party. And the only reason why the Republican Party has been able to obstruct is because of the filibuster (more accurately, Senate rules, but close enough.).

2) If the stimulus does not pass now, any future economic pain is solely the responsibility of the Republican Party. Any American who finds herself out of work, without medical care, etc. etc. can lay blame completely at the doorstep of the GOP.

3) Budget bills cannot be filibustered.

4) Thus, our intention is to pull the stimulus package now and resubmit it as part of the budget process. We will resubmit this budget with Democratic priorities and Democratic principles, and it will reinforce the goals that President Obama advocated during the campaign and for which the country gave him a mandate.

5) It will pass in that form.

6) To be sure, it will be much better to have a package now, but we will not compromise on what the American people voted for last November. And as we said, the public knows quite clearly upon whom the blame should land.

7) Negotiations are over. Take it or leave it.

Barack Obama cut his political teeth in Chicago. Nancy Pelosi learned tough Baltimore politics from her father. Harry Reid used to be a boxer. It’s about time they showed it.

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.