By Patrick Martin
7 February 2009
The Obama administration reached a tentative agreement Friday with a group of Senate Republicans and conservative Democrats to cut the planned economic stimulus package by tens of billions of dollars, paving the way for the Senate’s passage of the legislation over the weekend. Floor debate began Friday evening on a measure to cut $110 billion in spending from the bill, reducing the measure to a total of $780 billion.
The nature of the “compromise” agreement is best illustrated by considering the political physiognomy of the five senators who negotiated it. They include three Republicans—Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania—Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska, the most conservative member of the Democratic caucus, and independent Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, an all-out supporter of the war in Iraq who was one of the most vitriolic supporters of defeated Republican presidential candidate John McCain in the 2008 elections.
The final deal was reached in face-to-face talks between Collins and Specter, speaking for the group of five, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, after the Senate Democratic caucus approved the package Friday evening