Obama Team's Disorganization Slows Down Stimulus

James Pethokoukis points to an item in the Wall Street Journal on Democratic concerns that the timetable for the stimulus may slip as Barack Obama’s transition team fails to deliver its requests on time:

Democratic leaders are increasingly concerned that they won’t be able to offer an economic stimulus package for congressional debate until late January because they haven’t received a plan from President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team.

Democrats initially had hoped to unveil details of the economic recovery package this week and to pass it by Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, so it would be ready for Mr. Obama’s signature soon after his swearing-in. Estimates are that the plan will call for spending as much as $850 billion over two years…

Rep. David Obey (D., Wis.), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, added, “I had been hoping that the timetable would be this week” for having a proposal in hand.

But Mr. Obey said Mr. Obama’s team, which recently met with congressional committee leaders, is still determining the details of the package it wants.

“The Obama people are still trying to chew through all of that, to decide what they think works and what doesn’t at this stage,” Mr. Obey said.

Once Mr. Obama’s aides come up with a package, he added, congressional Democrats will have to negotiate with them over the details.

“First we’ve got to have some signals called by Obama,” Mr. Obey said. “It’s hard to negotiate with somebody if the other party hasn’t decided what they want out of the negotiations…”

One of the Democrats’ concerns is that when the Obama team does deliver a plan, it might not contain much detail. If it is a broad overview, congressional leaders will have to scramble to flesh it out into a workable piece of legislation…

Greg Mankiw is one economist who has convincingly made the case that a massive spending package is a bad way to try to get the economy moving. The best response is a package of tax cuts. Congressional Republicans must coalesce around an alternative proposal that completely avoids new spending in favor of reductions in payroll taxes, capital gains taxes, income taxes, and/or other taxes — to get the economy back on track.

We’ve also been told repeatedly Barack Obama has set a new standard for quickly assembling a brilliant Cabinet, full of talented and moderate leaders. Yet somehow, this crack transition team can’t stick to the timetable on its number one policy priority. Congressional Republicans — who have been slow to craft a response to the Democrat/Obama proposal — have been granted something of a reprieve. They need to use the next few weeks to craft an alternative to Obama’s inefficient proposal to bust the budget while paying off Democratic constituencies.