The Senate-House conference committee has reconciled the chambers' different versions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.Update, NYT:
Negotiations had been going on all day, following extensive talks on Tuesday night, to close the gap between the Senate and House versions. In the end, the agreed-upon package will pare back Democrats’ proposed spending on education and health programs in favor of tax cuts that were needed to win Republican votes in the Senate.The article starts out sounding like there was give and take, but by the end of it, I'm left with the impression that the House caved to the Senate. I wouldn't doubt it if Reid wanted to spin the facts coming out of this to make it seem like there was more back and forth. Democrats have to stop extending olive branches to the Republicans. So far as the Republicans are concerned, Obama is the Antichrist, and there is no compromise. Democrats have to learn to play dirty.
A month ago, Obama economists Romer and Bernstein released job-creation projections that "assumed a package just slightly over the $775 billion currently under discussion." Lo and behold, the final bill comes in at $789 billion. It reportedly includes Obama's proposed tax cuts, comprising almost exactly the same proportion of the overall package. For the past month, media attention has focused on all the changes to the package, and on the controversies it has engendered. Obama has been criticized for failing to forge a bipartisan consensus, for not safeguarding his priorities, and for not taking a sufficiently aggressive role in the negotiations on the Hill. So it's worth stepping back to take note of the fact that the final package looks remarkably like what Obama has wanted all along. In fact, it's closer to that original proposal than to either the House or Senate versions of the bill. Remarkable.
Whether or not it's the right package is a whole separate topic. But as a legislative achievement, coming so early in the term, this is astonishing.