Diary

How About a $1.4 Trillion Stimulus?

Barack Obama requested $775 billion. The current pricetag is $825 billion. But the House Progressive Caucus thinks it needs to be a little bigger: say, $1.4 trillion.

Liberal Democrats in the House are lobbying hard to put President-elect Obama’s economic stimulus bill over the trillion-dollar mark.

“Some of us are saying we need a stimulus of 1.2 or 1.3 or 1.4 trillion to prevent a depression, rather than just slow our descent into a depression,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.).

The Congressional Progressive Caucus is circulating a letter to Obama among its members, asking for a meeting with him to talk about dramatically expanding the bill…

“People are saying you can do it later. But if this doesn’t fix it, Republicans will say you threw all this money at it and it didn’t work,” Nadler said. “It’s all or nothing. We have to get it right the first time.”
Committees are expected to revise and vote on the bill Wednesday. Obey hopes to get the bill to the floor by Jan. 28 and pass it by Feb. 13.

The House Blue Dogs have tried to raise their profile, and talk more about ‘fiscal responsibility’ now that their membership has expanded to include more than 50 House members. The ‘Progressive Caucus‘ is made up of more than 70 members of the House — most of them relatively senior leaders.

Nadler might be right. It may get progressively more difficult for Democrats to pass additional big ticket items once the destimulus bill is signed into law. But if that’s the case, what will Democrats do when they try to pass TARP II? Or Obamacare? Or the bailout for the auto companies? Or the periodic reauthorization of transportation programs that’s due? Each one of these measures will cost hundreds of billions of dollars. It may be politically impossible for Democrats to get all the spending they want — even if they start the administration off with a $1.4 trillion monstrosity. At some point, fears about doubling the national debt (which stands around $10 trillion right now), is going to put a stop to the Democrats’ spending plans.

The liberal wing of the Democratic party is now in its ascendancy, and even looking at trillions of dollars in new spending, its appetite can’t be sated. There’s no way Obama can satisfy a base that’s grown as greedy as his is today.