February 5th, 2009
04:43 PM ET

Senators going through stimulus bill 'line by line'

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/02/05/stimulus/art.collins.interview.cnn.jpg]

A bipartisan group of senators said Thursday they were going "line by line" through the economic stimulus bill as they try to reach a compromise on an amendment to cut some spending from the package.

Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Indiana, said there is a "backbone" to a deal, but the details were being worked out between the 12 Democrats and five Republicans at the meeting.

"It's been a painstaking, very thorough, very comprehensive process," said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine.

Republicans have objected to some provisions in the bill that they say have nothing to do with stimulating the economy.

Collins said she was originally in favor of a bill that would have cost about $650 billion, but after meeting with President Obama, she was convinced of the need for a proposal that would be in the neighborhood of $800 billion.

Obama held a series of one-on-one meetings in the Oval Office on Wednesday with key senators still on the fence.

Collins said she went through some specific programs with the president to see which ones he would be willing to cut.

"But I will tell you, particularly on my side of the aisle, there is a vigorous debate over what the size of the package should be," she said Thursday.

"We don't want a package that is too small because that will end up just wasting money. On the other hand, we're very leery of having an enormous package that would not be necessary and would just boost the federal deficit," Collins said as Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Nebraska, nodded in agreement.


Filed under: Bailout Turmoil • Raw Politics
soundoff (76 Responses)
  1. kathy


    When the nation is riddled with the highest unemployment in 35 years, perhaps we should be pleased to see that the GOP members in Washington, who are supposed to represent the interest of the American public, have absconded their responsibility for petty politics as usual. As far as I am concerned, they have posted a help wanted sign on thier seats come next election. So I guess we should say thank you for nothing. IN particular, I abhor the so cocalled moderate from Maine, who thinks so little of our children that she would put funding the pentagon above education programs. Well, perhaps HOllywood can use some washed up want to be actors in the form of the GOP leadership on the Senate and house floors.

    February 7, 2009 at 10:48 am |
  2. SL Scott

    Anna, I agree with you, those who are saying take your time to read the stimulus bill–yes they have not been laid off yet and I clearly say not yet. In addition, Rublicans got problems–they are constantly talking about tax cuts, some of the same mess that got us into trouble under the previous Administration. What good is a tax break if you don’t have an income to buy something in order to get a tax break. How can you refinance your mortgage after your credit is in a negativity because you cannot pay your debt. How can you offer people tax breaks on mortages when they are losing them. How can you feel good about holding back on the stimulus package when thousands and thousands of people are walking about with no health cover, how can you say not to be in a hurry when people can’t pay their bills and living off small amount of unemployment. Is this America? What kind of people are you? Do you not have any feeling for others? How can you sleep at night knowing you are against helping others? Unfortunately, this is a sad time in this country because people do not want to help one another.

    February 6, 2009 at 10:32 am |
  3. christa ayers

    I just called the office of Senator George Voinovich of Ohio, to ask if he would vote for the President's stimulus package, the people in his office hang up on me. I guess, they are as irrational as the Senator himself. I used to vote for the Senator untill he had the " hissy fit ", in Columbus about then President Clinton, taking of in Airforce 1 before him. We here in Ohio had lots of compassion after his young daughter got killed years ago, but he shows no support for us Ohioans we need help, but he can't help us " Shame on you and your staff Senator Voinovich ", you cannot be gone soon enough. Maybe its his age, I think we should put an age limit on a Senators term 65 years of age like the rest of us. Even if they were voted in at 64, when they turn 65 get rid of them.

    February 6, 2009 at 10:27 am |
  4. Dorothy Inman-Johnson

    All of the Congressmen have good jobs and health care paid for by our taxes, the same ones they seem hesitant to use to provide urgent help to poor people living in quiet desperation all over America. They have lost touch.

    The poor who lost jobs, elderly on low, fixed income, and working poor families whose paychecks don't stretch far enough to cover their constantly rising cost for food, housing, utilities can't wait for Congress to play politics with their lives. The ones who are lined up at my charitable agency every morning when we open our doors certainly can't.

    Pass Stimulus and get help to our communities now!

    February 6, 2009 at 5:48 am |
  5. Lori Metevia

    I admire the senators for taking this bill seriously. I have done extensive research and all findings show that Obama's plan would never work.

    The first thing that this administration needs to do is address the insolvent banking system. Senator John Kerry, Bob Crocker and famous economist Nouriel Roubini have all admitted that the banking system is insolvent. With a zombie banking system, every job that Obama creates will be countered by the businesses losing 5 or more jobs. The most cost-effective way to address this issue is to reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act. Banks could go on with normal operations while the investment houses could absorb the toxic debt.

    The second thing that Obama needs to do is provide a stimulus check that would inspire Americans to be confident enough to spend. Obama offering about $1000 to each American is like giving every homeless person $2. It will do absolutely nothing. However, if he could give each household making under $300,000 a $10,000 check, people would start spending money.

    Lets hope that our President and congress realize that there are better options than their current plan.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:33 am |
  6. Steve in Las Vegas,NV

    Everyone there should try to remember just who they represent. It's the American people, so they must try to put aside the party affiliations, go through this bill, remove the pork and get this done.

    I think most people who are hurting just need help very soon, but not at any cost. Some there think that what they are doing will help their constituents no matter if its pork or not.

    It's time for the Republicans, Democrats, liberals & conservitives to just work for the people and put together a package to get America working.. It something is not in this bill, there will be time to get another bill going to remedy that.

    Maybe if all of them would take a say, 10% pay cut, this would show they're being serious....Oh wait...That's just a dream!

    February 6, 2009 at 3:20 am |
  7. steve

    Independent who voted for "President" Obama. So far agree with: closing of Guantanamo, Inclusive attitude toward all nations and religions, Equal Pay Act, Executive Pay limits, and holding companies asking for help to higher standard (they obviously cannot do so without being shamed).
    Disagree with: Initial support for tax challenged cabinet members, the hypocrisy of calling for ethics reform then bringing lobbyists into fold in significant numbers (saying and campaining one way, governing another), especially disturbed by Stimulus Package handling ( The attempts to reach out to moderate republicans have become increasingly transparent as show, not substance, and the Dems in the House put him in a position to have to forcefully support a bill that contains programs the pragmatic middle are sickened by as politics as usual. But Pelosi "has his back" , which makes it sounds like those who voted for his thoughtful, pragmatic , problem solving rhetoric will be looking at more of the same in the next 4 years as we have had for the last eight years, just by the opposite "team").

    Here's Hoping he's just getting initiated to "reality", and that he will find a way to make good on the campaign and "change this old reality", by dressing down both extremes when they get out of line. I truly believe their is huge majority in the middle that would love to have the radical ends of both parties be marginalized for once.

    February 6, 2009 at 3:05 am |
  8. Charlie Fultz

    You have to be crazy to want a 945 BILLION dollar taxpayer bill that pays for AIDS Education, resodding a mall, building a dog park, installing door bells, and about 2 dozen other SENSELESS items in this bill.

    Please, this is NOT a "Stimulus" bill, it's just like Mr. Obama said, it’s a "Spending" bill. We need to fix the housing problem and the spending ability of lower and middle class Americans. THEN we can worry about bridges, dog parks and other items that are important, but not a priority at this time.

    February 6, 2009 at 2:29 am |
  9. Anthony J. Wartman

    I am a 68 year old white male. I smoke cigarettes and now I am going to have to pay a dollar more a pack to give health care to more children. Hell with taxing us smokers more and more. The great Obama stimulis is not going to do anything for me. I still work full time because I can't afford to have good health care. I have been supporting my daughter who is 39 because she hasn't been able to find work as a chief or lead cook. I have never been able to afford to purchase a home. I've had many different jobs, at one time believed you needed to be a union member to have a good job with good benifits, but have found that was a big myth. I would love to have someone bail me out. I am totaly against bailling out the mortage industry. And believe that people who have been living beyond their meens in high priced homes and have been using them to get more credit, to buy extras and have gone deeper into debt should have known better. Bail-out NO ! Stimulis Ha Ha Ha NO NO !

    February 6, 2009 at 1:48 am |
  10. Maxine Hall

    Everyone is taking shots at the President but when he fights back it is a problem. President Obama fought very graciously on the campaign. It is his legacy at stake. If this doesn't work no one is going to blame those SENATOR'S. Our President is only trying to fullfill his promise to the American people that voted for him. Yes Senator's lets start by taking out the monies for EDUCATION. I think as long as their children are fine then why should they care about those who can't afford to sent their children to college. All those college students and young Americans that voted for the first time–lets tell them that their education is not important because it won't bring immediate jobs.

    February 6, 2009 at 1:45 am |
  11. Sheera, Oregon

    We all agree we need a BIG stimulus package, but there are some outrageous spending items being proposed. I'm a democrat, a liberal, a scientist. but come on fellow Dems... even this liberal thinks you're wanting to do TOO MUCH. Put aside your egos and your pet projects and let the Republicans have a voice. Balance is the answer. You all said so during your support for the Pres. Honor your promise, Mr. President, don't let us down. You know, some of us almost didn't vote for you because we were afraid you would go too far to the left (even though we're there with you morally), but you convinced us that you wouldn't. Now we're wondering.......

    February 6, 2009 at 1:43 am |
  12. Gonzarelli

    Collins like McCain have no clue about what the middle class is going through, nor do they understand the state of our economy. Get real! Go enjoy your 4 multi-million dollar homes and keep your fat bellies full while the rest of the unemployed community continues to suffer. Republicans are telling us they don't care and that is why we are in this horrible dilema.

    This is absurd and foolish behavior! No better than that fool Dick Chaine, with his ridiculous statements driven to scare the American people! Shame on you fools! I say it again; shame on you!


    February 6, 2009 at 1:33 am |
  13. James Bowen

    It's time that Obama starts taking names and kicking butt. The republicans are no more interested in bipartisanship than I am in Russian beauty pageants. If Reid and Pelosi cannot get their caucuses in line then they need to be taken to the woodshed. This stimulus is far to important than to play politics with because it's about our nation's future. The republicans are a bad joke of a party that hasn't had an original idea in my lifetime.

    February 6, 2009 at 1:28 am |
  14. Gonzarelli

    Oh Yeah! I forgot the republican lobbyists; who want their millions/billions of ear marked initiatives forward will only approve the economic stimulus bill if this is so and in their favor.
    Let's stop throwing money away for the sake of pleasing these republican senators on capital hill.


    February 6, 2009 at 1:27 am |
  15. Gonzarelli

    4% fixed rates on refinancing mortgages and 15% tax cut will certainly help me as a middle class but will NOT get us out of this economic down spiral we are continuing to go into. Wake up! This is only a portion and this is why these republicans are so out of control!
    The 4% rate and 15% tax cut will help those of us who are employeed for the time being and will do nothing for the poor and those who lost their jobs, homes and now are having a hard time getting food stumps.


    February 6, 2009 at 1:24 am |
  16. Gonzarelli

    Great reporting!
    My take is that these foolish republicans better wake up and start serving the hurting people that put them there. I'm sick and tired of hearing them scream like little girls but offer no better solutions.

    Obama is for the people by the people and he has my support as will the support of millions of Americans who will no longer vote republican.


    February 6, 2009 at 1:20 am |
  17. Mary Norcross GA

    Oh I forgot to say one more thing.

    If the Congress pay checks were stopped until a stimulus package agreement was made, how many of you bet they will put all the Republican and Democrat heads together and pass the stimulus in 3 days.

    February 6, 2009 at 12:16 am |
  18. Mary Norcross GA

    I hope this blog is read, Why? Because many Americans are not given the real picture about the stimulus package. Cnn has made it a point to show the top criticism of the Stimulus Packages, But Cnn please tell the American People what the Republican Senate did to prevent us from getting into this situation. What did the republicans do to prevent the crash of Wall Street, or the crash of the Financial markets, or what did they do to prevent the destruction of the total job markets.

    So many republican are so sure that the stimulus package will not work or create jobs, but where is their package preventing the downfall of America. I say they had their chance during the Bush Administration and they fail. Now it's time to do something about this situation and they have so many intelligent inputs. Where were these intelligent inputs when the money was given to the financial markets before President Obama was inaugurated.

    The Republican party has procrastinated, and has separated this country to near destruction, Now all of a sudden CNN believes that the republican party can do better when they have had 8 years to show us they know what they are doing and failed to do so. So why should the American people believe them again.

    Republicans GET ON BOARD, Ride the stimulus train, instead of wanting it to fail, do all you can to make sure it does not, by helping pass the stimulus package and WAKE UP, American is hurting while you sit on your opinions and do nothing with them, STAND UP, let a President who will not be the corner stone of your cheap tactics of pointing figures and doing nothing while the Entire United States is suffering. SCI-FI is starting to look real, because the Republicans are selfish enough to believe they still have the answers. I say
    WHERE WERE YOU WHEN WE NEEDED YOU. I know still talking about it and doing nothing. People are starving, people are homeless, people have lost life savings, people need work, yes we know the rich get richer while the middle and poor class die.

    Thanks Republicans for doing nothing to help Americans.

    February 6, 2009 at 12:06 am |
  19. Monic

    People, People, Please!!!......
    We all know where and how this CRISIS surfaced in the first place...
    Yes, its been the Greedy, Slimy "UNIONS" .... This started getting out of hand in the 1980's. See, the workers demanded more money which put the manufacturing price higher for the consumer who then went for the cheaper products (made in China, Japan, India etc). Because those people overseas work extra hard not to mention child labor for a merely 50cents an hour..... See how THE BIG WHEEL KEEPS ON TURNING and PROUD DUBAI KEEPS ON BUILDING.....
    Prices went up and up... and the manufacturing sector here in the states cannot afford their UNION employees anymore so, they move their businesses overseas.
    Now, the way I see it, the bailout money should be given to the small business class, family business type. They are the ones who created the jobs in the first place and they will put people back to work with fresh new ideas. The Staying Home Mothers should also get paid.
    The government has never been able to balance anything. Wouldn't trust any of them doing my own laundry. President Obama on the other hand is on the right path but needs to make extra sure that this stimulous package won't end up in the wrong hands. Please do not give this to the RICH.... they don't need it and they will cook the books. This stimulous money needs to be monitered dollar per dollar to the businesses who have been around for at least 10 years or so . They will put people back to work. Look how the family businesses have stuck around for a long time....but now hanging by a thread. YES PEOPLE THIS IS NOT A GAME NOR IS IT FUNNY ANYMORE.
    The HONEST>TRUSTWORTHY>HARDWORKING citizens of this country are the ones that will survive this crisis.... so why not give them the BAILOUT MONEY> also called the MIDDLE CLASS CITIZENS.
    The other alternative is to let everything tumble down and those that are left and bruised bad from this fall get the BONUSES or whatever
    you want to call it. The Math doesn't add up anymore. Too many hands in the COOKIE JAR>
    Forget the CEO'S, the Welfare people, the old Senators who've always screwed the system including Madame X.

    February 6, 2009 at 12:06 am |
  20. Hilda B.

    Renee & Katrina, I too agree with your views concerning the disrespect of the media towards our President.... I say let the man do his job.... If he sounds a little harsh right now, oh well, he has a right, remember he is President of this United States concerned about all the people. The mess that this world has been put in did not happen over night and for sure won't be fixed over night. But, signing this stimulus package is a start. In conclusion, in my heart of hearts I feel that President Obama has been sent to turn this country around by our Lord and Saviour, but we must remember that he is being guided by the Lord, but he is not Lord. Congress let the chosen man do his chosen job....

    February 5, 2009 at 11:52 pm |
  21. Tamara

    I am trying to type comments here on my phone and deleted by mistake. I am so disgusted listening to all the Obama sound bites right now bleh. I am incredulous that any rational person can think that all the crazy spending items, like birth control, coast guard cutter for 88 mil and sod for the mall EVER belonged in a stimulus bill! And I'm insulted that when the non-stimulus items started to become an issue, the president began calling it a recovery and investment plan – so that negates the debate. I mean I know a lot of people drank the koolaid, but really do they believe we're that stupid? Don't worry dems – you'll have plenty of time to cram your social agenda down the throat of mainstream America – please just concentrate on the economy right now!

    February 5, 2009 at 11:45 pm |
  22. David in Miss.

    Unfortunately, no amount of taxpayer money thrown at this mess will do much good. In all likelihood, Congress will only make it worse. I cannot conceive that the founders of this country envisaged appropriating and sacrificing the present and future wealth of blameless citizens and their children to reward foolishness and greed. As in war, there will be much collateral damage and we all are casualties.

    February 5, 2009 at 11:38 pm |
  23. Mary

    Why are the congressmen willing to continue the same failed Bush housing bubble problems? ie Building excess and overly expensive houses that the market could not afford.

    The banks created those terrible and predatory home loans to entice unsuspecting home buyers to purchase their over built housing projects.
    And now to further glutt the housing market with gov. perks to buy 'new construction only houses' while For Sale and Foreclosures surround us is pretty lame. We need to learn from Bush 's huge mistakes?

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

    When are politicians going to realize that we the American people are not stupid. We get it...if this president is successful than he could get a second term...the democrats go get another term...well if they, the republicans do the right thing for the right reasons.. maybe they too will serve another term. How about putting the country first, the people first. How about fixing what greed has ruined. Some of them, including some commentators can't even bring themselves to refer to him as President Obama. It is obvious what the real issues are here for most. How far have we really come? It is time for courage. Maybe Washington needs more change, maybe it is time for some of the old men in Washington to be replaced by younger men who don't have the issues that these "good ole boys" have.

    February 5, 2009 at 11:26 pm |
  25. barbara giardino

    Dear Anderson, I am so tierd of hearing the sky is falling, that is how we ended up with the first 700 billion. I guess we have to do something but why can't our elected officals solve one problem at a time. The way they put in so much spending right in front of us, makes me believe that alot has been passed most of us would highly question. Barbara Giardino

    February 5, 2009 at 11:21 pm |
  26. vivian taylor

    I heard the whole speech and thought that he was not only speaking to the Democrats but to the country. I didn't find it partisan, just honest. The Republicans are acting like a bunch of spoiled kids who know they can try to make him fail - instead of trying to do something to help the country. What are they offering that's new?

    February 5, 2009 at 11:17 pm |
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