February 5th, 2009
09:22 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Stimulus Showdown

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/02/05/stimulus/art.staff.congress.jpg caption="Aides to the senators wait in the hall as Thursday's meeting takes place."]

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

We're covering breaking news on Capitol Hill tonight. The Senate still has to vote on Pres. Obama's stimulus plan. There was talk of an all-nighter. But we're told that's no longer the plan. So, what's the hang-up? We'll have the new details from CNN's Dana Bash and Ed Henry.

Just moments ago, Pres. Obama spoke at a retreat for House Democrats in Virginia.  He called on the Senate to pass the stimulus plan.  It felt like a campaign speech, a campaign to get the deal done.  We'll play the passionate plea for you.

There's also new fallout over Michael Phelps' bong hit seen around the world.   One endorsement deal has gone up in smoke. And, the Olympic hero has been  suspended from competitive swimming for three months.

Do you agree with the punishment?

And, could there be a change soon at the Supreme Court? Justice Ruth Bader Gisburg is hospitalized tonight after undergoing surgery for pancreatic cancer. Will she step down? And, if so, who might be her replacement.

We'll have these stories and more tonight on AC 360°.

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
soundoff (288 Responses)
  1. Kevin

    The whole package needs to be changed. To solve this quickly give the money directly to the American people. The rebate we all got last year was on the right track just not large enough. It needs to be very large. Everything we spend and save will go directly back into the economy. The economy can be corrected in a matter of months. Think about it!

    February 5, 2009 at 11:33 pm |
  2. Edward Churchill

    Treat this economic meltdown like the National security threat that it is and destroy it with agressive action by demanding 50% of all domestic vehicle production supplimented with bailout money be NG powered cars and light trucks. This can put 50 million NG cars and light trcuks into service in 5 years, lower emmisions by 70% in each, create tens of millions of jobs along the way, and end the economic crises. Lets use the trillions of dollars worth of available NG to sustain our economy!

    February 5, 2009 at 11:32 pm |
  3. Robert C. Johnson

    Things will get worse if the bill passes or not. We need to take the time to find a bill that will create jobs, not just bigger government. We HAVE the time If President Obama had the votes they would vote. Because he does not have the votes, in this Democratic congress, that tells us that finally some see this bill as a BAD bill. We need roads and bridges now, not more bigger government.

    February 5, 2009 at 11:32 pm |
  4. mike

    This bill is loaded with extras that could wait until later. The Demoncrats in Congress threw in a bunch of programs on top of a bill they knew needed to be passed quickly, just so they wouldn’t have to wait for them to passed on their own. The money for this stimulus bill is being borrowed and will have to be paid back with interest to whoever they borrow it from, most likely China. While the nation needs a stimulus, we don’t need to include things such as neon lights for las vegas and s.t.d. prevention. These things will not create new jobs and if passed on top of this bill, we will be paying the interest on them. These extras on top can wait until the economy recovers some, and we can pay for it out of our own money.

    February 5, 2009 at 11:31 pm |
  5. Alexandra Espindola

    Yesterday, I watched the McCain group on CSPAN meet with three economists. I was shocked at the advice they were giving: Wait, there is no hurry, the economy has some problems, but nothing that tax cuts for the rich cannot cure.
    I have been watching the Senate at work for the last two days, and the GOP keeps talking about TAX cuts for the rich. What is wrong with these people? Do they think we are that dumb? Do they really believe that they can go on TV and talk about a few “pork” issues and that we will swallow the same meat they have given us for seven years? I would rather eat President’s Obama pork than the meat I have been fed during the duration of the Bush catastrophe.
    We must spend money to make money. Period. The GOP did not have any problem throwing away my tax money on a war we did not need to fight. They had no problem throwing my tax money to financial institutions without oversight, and zero results. Do they really believe that I believe them now? How can they have the audacity to tell me that they care about my tax money? Please!
    Anderson, it is time you begin to report what is going on in the Senate debate. I take my hat off at MSNBC’s Rachel Madow for doing so. I hope you do so also. The Republican media blitz of the last two days was shameful.
    Thank you for listening.

    February 5, 2009 at 11:31 pm |
  6. Karla Johnson

    I'm glad the President got tough tonight. Looks what happened in the House. He looked soft, and it got him no where. If this package does not pass, I think there will be riots in the street. People are very frightened.

    February 5, 2009 at 11:31 pm |
  7. Akins, NC

    I have a suggestion if I may. I think the people would be more receptive of an enormous spending plan that provided more variety to the job creations and was not ongoing spending as the current plan appears to be.

    Have the various Government agencies pull all Grant and SBIR applications from all small business for-profit entities, form a consortium, advisory committee and/or otherwise which can perform a quick review of these projects. The review could possibly been done by reading their summary page and any small business for-profit entity found to have a persuasive concept and or business opportunity with some degree of possible success be provided immediate and direct funding through the “Stimulus Package”.

    Form a Small Business Incentive Oversight Committee to oversea the funding provided and ensure that the funds are put to the proper use as proposed by the small business for-profit entity and not pocketed by individuals.

    If you took the 900 billion dollar package and provided as much as 4 million dollars for each small business you would still create 225,000 new businesses. If each of those businesses only employed 5 people you would create 1,125,000 jobs all practically overnight.

    Then with all these small businesses starting up, there will be many items purchased, such as equipment, tools, vehicles, property, office supplies, clothing, electronics and etc… Now that would be a stimulus.

    This creates various businesses and jobs all over the country. The businesses will buy products and services from existing businesses and would help stabilize their decline and perhaps pick them back up again. Loans would begin to flow to businesses and workers once again. That’s what I call a “Stimulus”.

    One key part is that it is not an ongoing spending, it is a one time deal to jump start our economy and to start the cash flowing and putting people back to work.

    Obviously there is no guarantee that all of these businesses will succeed; however it will perform its intended purpose and provide the stimulus needed to jump start our economy and an opportunity for these folks that want to start a business the real chance to do so.

    February 5, 2009 at 11:30 pm |
  8. Helen

    The republicans had 8 years to improve the economy and at least two of those 8 years to fix this mess, why are they waiting until now to identify what needs to be done, remember this downward spiral did not start in January. (I think they still have no clue on how to fix the economy). President Obama and his adminsitration do not have time to go through this political mess every time they wants to try to get something passed to improve the economy. So why not get it all in at one time. If there is nothing in this stimulus that will hurt the crountry or its citizens then pass the darn thing!

    February 5, 2009 at 11:29 pm |
  9. Linda

    President Obama is "right on". Like he says, It's a stimulus bill, it's called spending. The misguided, mud rucking Republicans are simply poor loosers, and can't get over the fact that they are loosing, They still just don't get it... The last 20 years of Reagonomics hasn't worked. Cutting taxes to give more to the rich DOESN'T WORK.. He needs our support and he has mine 100%. It might not be a 100% perfect plan; but it's better than any thing these neocon repubs will come up with.

    If the repubs only want to put up road blocks, they need to be reminded come election time that it's about their constituents and not their fragile egos and their high and might lobbyist and Wall Street friends.

    This is NOT A GAME, real people, who are hurting, need REAL HELP. Just ask one of the Govenor's needing assistance if this stimulus bill is a game.

    February 5, 2009 at 11:29 pm |
  10. Brian

    Stimulus Plan? The only thing it stimulates is more corporate greed. I recently got a notice from Chase Bank informing me my business credit card interest rate is being raised 10%. That's one way to "stimulate" me to spend more, raise my interest rate and take billions of free dollars from taxpayers so you don't lose your bonus.

    Is it a requirement that if you become an elected official you have to be lobotomized before you go to Washington? I think it must be because the vast majority of our elected officials are clueless. Must be the water.

    It's really business as usual, the defeated party resents the party in power so cooperation gets thrown out the window.

    We can all sleep well tonight knowing entitled, petulant children are running our government.

    February 5, 2009 at 11:29 pm |
  11. Elaine Cimino

    The Stimulus has 1 billion dollars for nuclear weapons manufacturing
    I think we not have this is the bill. This doesn't mean any more jobs it means spending on beefing up Nukes when the world is crying for non proliferation.

    February 5, 2009 at 11:29 pm |
  12. Jon

    Where are the Dems in the studio.... it does seem that CNN is pulling a FOX on the President. You seem to be trying to rip our President a new one...... which you never seemed to do to the previous regime.

    February 5, 2009 at 11:29 pm |
  13. Donna

    There is no pork nor earmarks in this bill. There is a lot of bull in the right wing of congress, however.

    February 5, 2009 at 11:29 pm |
  14. Ed Garcia

    A stimulus package that is not well planned, not carefully reviewed and analyzed for cost and benefit, not prepared by the best economists and business minds, and rushed on the pretext that the economy is going down the drain, can certainly flush everything down the drain.

    February 5, 2009 at 11:28 pm |
  15. Priscilla

    David Gergen is right, this was also dangerous speech by the President, it does not bring all together. My conversations with Dems & Repub in the business community and employees, Obama supporters and those who did not support him, voice little to no support by the general public for this "spending bill". With millions and billions for unbelievable projects, it appears the only jobs supported are Union jobs. We so want this President to succeed, but fear it is already looking bad – and please find some Dems who paid their taxes!

    February 5, 2009 at 11:28 pm |
  16. sammy

    I watched Obama talked about the rep not joining with the dem.Question they were talking about the fat cat's on wall street going on the spending spree with hotel's and etc,but why they can go to a retreat in VI on tax's payer's money to talk about this bill.So who is the fat cat's now.What a joke the whole world is laughing at us.

    February 5, 2009 at 11:28 pm |
  17. John B.

    I like David Gergen but disagree that the President has become partisan in the speech. I saw coverage today of not only John McCain blasting away with the same lame ideas, but also former administration officials who were part of creating this mess.

    February 5, 2009 at 11:28 pm |
  18. Jeanne

    What is the matter with our Senators and Representatives. I cannot believe that in this crisis they are quibbling over this bill. Getting an extra few dollars in my paycheck from a tax cut is not going to make any difference if I lose my job.

    Get with it. Do something. Get started. If the brain trust of economic advisors say this is what to do, let's do it. The President does not want to fail and he will correct course if needed.

    We did elect him. We did reject the Republican model. We did elect Democrats. Democrats need to get this through Congress. I expect that of them.

    February 5, 2009 at 11:28 pm |
  19. Mark

    This bill is a disaster. Scrap it and start over. It will not work. Pushing this bill through will insure one term for him. If he does not shrink government we will not be able to sell our debt to anyone.

    February 5, 2009 at 11:27 pm |
  20. Angela Williams

    I keep hearing you and David Gurgen saying that Obama's speech risk republican support but what the heck do you think he has been trying to do the last two weeks. He has reached out to the republican but he can't just keep acting like they are running the country and not him.
    The republicans are deliberately trying to embarass the president and I think it is about time he stood up and said "enough is enough". People are losing their jobs and their kids their future, we can't afford to play bipartisan tag ball with the republicans. THIS IS NOT ABOUT THE REPUBLICANS!!! THIS IS ABOUT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE!!! And the President is right, we spoke during the election. Just because the republican don't like the election outcome, doesn't mean that they have the right to undermine our president.
    I am tired of hearing you and your ,so called, panel acting like nothing can be done without the republicans. With that lame attitude, we might as well just say let the republicans run the country, even if they didn't win the election. Forget about republicans, they are trying to say they weren't included in the bill. This president has done all that he can to reach out to them but with this economy sliding the way that it is; he needs to get tough.
    Every media outlet has been critizing this man for the last 17 days and not once did they say anything good about his trying to change the tone in Washington. I am tired of the media and the republicans trying to undermine this new President before he has even had a chance to do anything. Shame on you and the republicans

    February 5, 2009 at 11:27 pm |
  21. Bonnie Crawford

    Bravo! President Obama. His speech was really good and I applaud his candor. I'll be calling a few of my elected officials tomorrow asking them to support the President's stimulus package. They need to support him and STOP the haggling going on in Congress. The President has gone to great lengths to bring the Republicans on board but they are still practicing the same old stubborn politics. The Democrats need to be sensitive to other points of view also. People need help NOW!

    February 5, 2009 at 11:27 pm |
  22. Scott A. Meyers

    here’s an idea 4 the stimulus package =$900 trillion/300 million (us population) = $3,000 for every man, woman & child – pay off bills, spend the rest , not allowed to save = stimulation!

    February 5, 2009 at 11:27 pm |
  23. Jenni in MT

    Finally the president is back!! I was afraid we would never see him again and the republicans were still in charge. I voted for Obama to make the changes–so let's do it.

    February 5, 2009 at 11:27 pm |
  24. Elaine Cimino

    The Republicans in the Senate today showed the American people that we are collateral damage. They show no sense of compassion and responsibility after they ignored the infrastructure for thirty years. MILLIONS of job losses don't mean squat to them.

    February 5, 2009 at 11:26 pm |
  25. Dave Richards

    If tax breaks for businesses worked, McCain would be in office now. The fact of the matter is tax breaks on paper look, in reality, they don't produce results. If the GOP continues to block this stimulus plan, there'll be the devil for them to pay come 2010. All those people losing jobs and houses while the GOP fiddles will remember, and will vote.........again. Can you say "regional party"?

    February 5, 2009 at 11:26 pm |
  26. Terri

    We have a great leader in President Obama. I am tired to the Rupublicans and their hyprocrisy. This president cares and empathizes with us. I support him and his agenda 110%. Pass the Stimulus Bill Now. He has reached out to the Republicans more in 2weeks more than George Bush did in 8 years. Let's get this done for the country!!!

    February 5, 2009 at 11:26 pm |
  27. Penny Parker

    Layoffs need to start at the top where all the deadwood is. The blue collar workers who are getting laid off are the backbone of American business. Corporate management needs to be laid off cause they wouldn't know how how to stock a shelf.

    Corporate wonders why a store has to close. DUH! If you don't have the product on the shelves customers are going elsewhere. And who do these idiot corporate managers lay off, the workers who stock the shelves. How Stupid!

    February 5, 2009 at 11:24 pm |
  28. Shannon E.

    What I want to know is why these presumably intelligent people, who claim to want to serve this country and it's people, why can't they negotiate a reasonable solution, and come to an agreement on this stimulus package!? There are people in business all over our country who reach reasonable agreements every day, why can't our Senators!?

    The American people deserve better...

    Shannon E.
    Dallas, Tx

    February 5, 2009 at 11:24 pm |
  29. John

    His current "stimulus package" is NOT what we need. Lets take tax payer dollars and give it to companies who have acted irresponsibly and greedy and put a few limitations on them so they can stay open, and then they will work through the loopholes that are still there. Take time,close all the loopholes and so the American poeple do win.
    In fact in a capitalist market companies that can't make it should go out of business no matter how many people they employee. Other companies who were not as greedy or irresponsible will take that business and grow.
    After hearing him tonight so much for working together. I guess he thought if he was elected his working together would be people rolling over to do whatever he wanted. I hope its not between party lines but if thats what it takes so be it.

    February 5, 2009 at 11:24 pm |
  30. John Campen

    Our vote for Obama doesn't give him a blank check. The "Stimulus Bill" brought forward by Congress is a mess. Rember... timely, target and temporary – not. There are too many components of this bill that fall far outside the scope of a "true" economic stimulus and jobs creation plan. Slow down... scrap this bill and start over.

    February 5, 2009 at 11:23 pm |
  31. Rob

    This is the same Congress that passed the first stimulus package. We didn't see a good result from that 700 billion dollar investment. I don't feel comfortable trusting these same people with 1.4 trillion. New president, same old Congress.

    February 5, 2009 at 11:23 pm |
  32. Brian Piazza

    Look out, the Hope Threat Level is elevated to Orange. President Obama does not get it. He MUST take the Pelosi Pork out of this bill. Every single line item should have a direct connection to jobs creation, infrastructure stimulus, or economic recovery. That is where the heat is coming from.

    February 5, 2009 at 11:23 pm |
  33. Cathy Leach

    Sully and his crew couldn't afford to argue about what to do, they had to act. They had to trust the leader knew what he was doing. They took their best shot based on previous experience. In that same vein, this is like watching doctors in the emergency room argue about treatment while the patient dies.

    February 5, 2009 at 11:22 pm |
  34. Elena Bianchetti

    You go Obama! Finally someone in the White House that actually cares enough to want to take immediate action! The package might not be perfect, but what is? He is right when he says that if something is not done now things will get a lot worse. That is a scary thought...

    February 5, 2009 at 11:21 pm |
  35. Mark

    If the bill were still in the original range of $300 billion it would be done already. The massive pork inserted is what is killing the bill, and it's killing the momentum the Democrats should have.

    February 5, 2009 at 11:21 pm |
  36. Brian Taylor

    My suggestion to Congress is fix TARP if possible early next week and then take as much time as you need to fix this weak stimulus bill. DO NOT bow down to the bully just because he throws a fit!

    February 5, 2009 at 11:21 pm |
  37. Donna

    Is it really possible that the Republicans can't get it into their thick heads that their "politics as usual" not only doesn't work, it is poisonous!

    February 5, 2009 at 11:21 pm |
  38. Loraine

    Bipartisanship is not something Obama can do alone. The Republicans have to make an effort too. They haven't.

    February 5, 2009 at 11:21 pm |
  39. janice

    The stimulus package is moving to fast and the special interest groups seem to be the main focus of the people in power. I do not want to see this a happen. Although I did not vote for Obama I was quite impressed with him in the beginning and after watching and hearing him the past couple of days I must say I am discouraged to say the least. I thought he was going to be so much smarter, stronger and fairer for all. WE as the tax payers all deserve to get a stimulus, not just the unions he owes and the special interests. There is time to pay them back . Right now we need so much more. And we need a stimulus for all.....

    February 5, 2009 at 11:20 pm |
  40. Ken

    We need to slow down on this stimulus bill, take a deep breath, and give us folks the real scoop on what is in this bill. We need to get some people outside the government spin to look at it and tell us what the effects of it are.

    February 5, 2009 at 11:20 pm |
  41. Dax Xenos


    Dont screw it up, you have a good man at the helm, dont let the old dogs rip him up.

    Put Chaney in the morgue, he looks like he is already half there, and he is the son of satan.

    Back off Michael Phelps, obviously in america you can rip the country off for billions and get away with it but smoke a joint and your a criminal.

    Grow up America, your alcoholic, junky & coke head problems are serious problems, a joint now and then, no problema.

    Follow Barack, he is the man, dont screw it up. Think of your kids not your own greed.

    Madrid, Spain.

    February 5, 2009 at 11:20 pm |
  42. Annie Kate

    I've given up trying to predict what Congress will do. I'd like to see some plan pass with no pork or unnecessary earmarks that do not stimulate job creation or the economy but I guess everyone has their own definition of what is pork and what is not.

    On Phelps – I hate that Kellogg's pulled his endorsement. I know its not the image they want but no one is perfect; he could have done worse; he's not on steroids that we know of like so many athletes are. Suspending him from swimming for 90 days is too much – keep him swimming – that way he's too tired to go out and smoke. All this over smoking marijuana? Talk about overreacting.

    February 5, 2009 at 11:19 pm |
  43. D.traylor

    Obama rocks! He is showing America he is going to go to work and not just go to collect a chk like so many people at capital hill is use to doing. They need to sign this bill, you got to spend money to make it!

    February 5, 2009 at 11:19 pm |
  44. Rodney - Queens, NY

    I think the Republican Senate fails to understand that President Obama was chosen by the people for the people. The same people that elect, support and cooperate with the politicians we put into office. Sign the stimulus bill and allow him to move forward. People are "hurting"! The same senate supported some strange bills signed by President Bush and look where it's put us!

    February 5, 2009 at 11:19 pm |
  45. Pauline

    President Obama has been trying to gain the support of the GOP by offering to compromise. I am glad to see him getting tough. Time is ticking. We are all hurting because of this economy. If the GOP is not willing to work him

    February 5, 2009 at 11:19 pm |
  46. Don Fugate

    It would be better to do nothing than to pass this 1 trillion package of earmarks. What does doubling the education budget have to do with stimulating the economy? Give us lower taxes please.

    February 5, 2009 at 11:19 pm |
  47. Sandra K.

    I think we should just get it done – eight years have shown us enough of the Republican strategy – it ain't workin.

    February 5, 2009 at 11:18 pm |
  48. Elaine

    This bill is bloated with deficit spending and will not create jobs for those of us who are hurting (the taxpayers). The politicians need to get rid of all of the entitlements loaded on to the bill and to our children and grandchildren. This is a serious disappointment for me for Pres. Obama's first attempt at a stimulus bill. The polls is have seen Gallup, Rasmussen have different stats than quoted here. They showed 58% do not support this bill as it stands. I guess it depends on where you look for statistics.

    February 5, 2009 at 11:17 pm |
  49. Lynn

    650,000 new first time unemployment claims filed in Jan & more on the way. We need the stimulus.

    February 5, 2009 at 11:17 pm |
  50. Christine

    We can't pass a bad bill out of desperation or fear – we could improve our situation in the short-term, but damage ourselves in unimaginable ways in the long-term. The President seems more interested in having his photo taken and getting interviews on TV than actually addressing the serious problems this bill has. The bill should help everyone – even business owners (since they provide the jobs anyhow). We should not be giving tax "breaks" – meaning checks – to people who never have to pay taxes. Free up everyone's pockets – LOWER TAXES across the board and give credits to small businesses, who are the bakbone of the economy...

    February 5, 2009 at 11:17 pm |
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