January 8th, 2009
07:29 PM ET
9 years ago

Dems give Obama aides 'barrage of criticism' on stimulus plan

Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin is concerned about some aspects of President-elect Obama's economic stimulus plan.

Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin is concerned about some aspects of President-elect Obama's economic stimulus plan.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Top Obama aides Larry Summers and David Axelrod heard a barrage of criticism late Thursday about the stimulus plan at a closed-door meeting for all Democratic senators, according to several participants who spoke afterwards.

Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa said he was “concerned about the way Mr. Summers and others are going on this.” In particular, he dismissed the tax breaks for individuals as a return to “trickle down” economics that won’t work.

Harkin said the Obama aides were “non-committal” about whether they would change their plan.

However, according to Sen. Kent Conrad, Summers said the senators’ message was “received loud and clear.”

Asked what he thought about the “pushback” from fellow Democrats, Axelrod said, “I’m not going to characterize it as pushback. I’m going to characterize it as people doing their jobs.”

Democratic Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois said he thought the new administration is open to modifying their package. “I don’t sense they have it set in stone,” he said.

“That’s the stage we’re in now. Talking about options. What will work, what won’t work. There’s not violent reaction against it,” Durbin said.

Filed under: stimulus plan
soundoff (71 Responses)
  1. Scott L


    Free handouts to those that don't even pay taxes and raising taxes on small businesses.

    You think that $20k raise on a President of a 10 person company is going to come from their pocket? NO WAY! They will cut bonuses, reduce raises, and nix 401k plans. A lot of companies are already revising their 401k match amounts.

    WAKE UP PEOPLE! You really screwed us by electing this left wing socialist liberal.

    January 8, 2009 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  2. Truth

    If they have a better plan lets hear it.

    January 8, 2009 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  3. Albo58

    What's this? The man isn't even in office yet and some of his fellow party members are starting to get buyer's remorse? Surely these politicians didn't buy into the propaganda that this man was some sort of all-knowing genius in every field of endeaver ? #!

    January 8, 2009 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  4. sandy

    Why does this not surprise me??? I think Obama's going to have the biggest problem with the democrats two biggest egomaniacs and thats Reid and Pelosi. I listened to the man today and he spoke with one mouth, not out of both sides of his mouth like most politicians do. He told it like it is and I hope he takes his stimulus package to the people and let us speak.

    January 8, 2009 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  5. Franky

    Uh-Oh...tough guy now! LOL!! You'll make Andrew Jackson proud...hmmm, no, still early to say that, LOL!!

    January 8, 2009 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  6. 12 Days To Go

    For the press complaining about no details, this is exactly why. Obama is trying to be bipartisan and reflect the desires of a cross section of voters, but Congress especially the Senate is stck in egomaniac partisan politices. What are these Senators actual credentials as economists??

    Voters are going to watch who votes against tax break for middle and working people as the Congress pads their pockets with a $5 000 raise which will also increase their pensions.

    January 8, 2009 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  7. Matt McCarty

    I trust Obama and Axelrod... I do not trust summers, he is a free market fundamentalist who has pushed us into this... I still wonder why Obama picked him and his understudy as Treasury Secretary... I'm hoping it's so big business won't lash out against him... We will see...

    January 8, 2009 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  8. Sara for America

    It's funny that the only problem they have is with TAX BREAKS?

    We're potentially giving the Prez elect a big enough check that he can sweep every program in his (socialist) agenda into a so-called recovery package from the get-go. The public has never granted so much authority to someone with so little experience in the history of the world.

    Good Lord.

    January 8, 2009 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  9. Meka

    Good answer, Alexrod.

    Congress appears to think "this is their Holloywood"


    They'll work then!

    January 8, 2009 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  10. Scott

    Well, democrats have always been quick to raise our taxes but have never like cutting them. If we the American people have to live within our means, than so should the government.

    The best stimulus plan would be for the elimination of all payroll taxes and simply have a federal sales tax. Also stop all foreign aid until this nation can get back on it's feet. If some country feels the need for our money, let them hold a telephon and people can donate it. Don't know about the rest of you but I'm certainly am tire of seeing the money I earn taken from me without so much has a thank you Scott only to be given to someone whose too lazy to get off the couch and get a job, or to welfare moms who pump out babies every year as a means of a pay raise not knowing who the father's are? Give me an HURAH here... The government now appears to want to run the auto industry, heath care and wall street, name one thing that our politicians have ever ran successfully other than their mouths?

    January 8, 2009 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  11. No Obstructionists Will Be Tolerated

    Not sure I agree with the "wording" of this article.

    It makes it sound as though there is turmoil in the party and that Senators are bucking Obama. What this really is is a difference in approach.

    Let's be clear that if members of Congress ... House or Senate ... start to feel their oats and interfere with the progress that President Obama is working to bring us, the body politic will come down on them like a ton of bricks.

    January 8, 2009 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  12. Jim

    Sounds like some in the President – elects party, want to keep the earmarks. That, "how you goin to cut me in attitude ", has no place in this stimulous package. Stick to your plan Mr. President – elect. The average guy needs you to do that!

    January 8, 2009 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  13. Texas Teacher

    Hmmmm... better remember which side you are on, Dems... many of you voted with Bush every inch of the way. You pushed through the bail out for the BANKERS on Wall Street... now you have to get sanctimous about proposals to lift up the little man? REALLY? 😦

    None of you are in office permanently... there WILL BE another election! And we, the People, have spoken. And that is that we want exactly what Obama has promised!

    January 8, 2009 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  14. MikeH

    OK Bob you may be right.

    But, I'm factoring into my "Petty Squabbling" opinion that, for reasons not made fully clear, Howard Dean skipped the Kaine DNC chairman appointment meeting, for reasons made somewhat clear Dianne Feinstein first opposed then approved Leon Panneta, and for reasons really obscure, Eric Holder's appointment was being opposed.

    This 'In-Fighting' takes its toll on the nation. It's one of the reasons the Democrats didn't secure the Presidency that they won back in 2000. Imagine America after eight years of Al Gore instead of George Bush. Boring maybe, but certainly not the disasterous plunge into the abyss we are in now.

    The Democrats have got to buck up and knock off their ego-driven nonsense. We all have to make a sacrifice and work together to repair this country. It's our price to pay for letting George be president.

    January 8, 2009 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  15. ConservativeMaverick

    Hey Socialist Harkin, maybe it's because trickle down economics is a fact of our economy.....two-thirds of it. When consumers cut back, the economy shrinks and jobs are lost...when consumers spend, the economy grows and jobs are created. At least Obama is 'open-minded' enough to see it. Stop being so closed-minded and maybe you'll see it too.

    January 8, 2009 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  16. shawn, pgh, pa

    Democrats complaining no surprise there. The more they complain the worse they look and they wonder why they haven't won elections lately. alot of them better remember without obama they wouldn't have gotten re-elected or elected this year. Democrats get into power and it goes to their darn heads. Pelosi is a idiot, Reid is dumber then sin and the rest are only looking out for their buddies in business. If they keep on playing this game the people will continue to hurt financial and mentally. So go ahead democratic congress mess up and believe me you will turn some of us to vote against you next time.

    January 8, 2009 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  17. Whyputaname

    Now that is "change" you can believe in....LOL!!!

    Already a battle going on.....and he isn't president yet!!

    January 8, 2009 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  18. letitbenews

    why should all these rich s.o.b's in Washington care if all us poor peons starve and get put out of our homes? How long has it been since one of them took their last $50 and try to buy enough groceries to feed a family of 4 for a week. Do they care if we can no longer afford to send our children to collage. NO... they are members of the US Senate & Congress. Big goverment paychecks, good full coverage insurance. How could we, the American voters ever think the people on Capital Hill would work with Obama to help us. Guess our votes didn't count after all!!!

    January 8, 2009 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  19. california for Hillary and proud of it..

    the american people deserve a stimulus plan of $10.000 per member of household. tell the car mfr. to decrease the price of their cars and lower all the prices, after all, the mfr. didn't pay, but 30 cents per hour labor cost overseas. we don't need trillion of dollars to stimulus our ecomomy.......cut all the cost of goods and foods and that will do it. it doesn't take a brain......cost of oil has gone down, that was the main reason everything has gone up...bring it down, down, car mfr. will have a steak party, the people will clear the car lots..stupid. cut all the pay salaries and checks, get down to basic.... cut all the high cost...., stop talking about it... just do it....

    January 8, 2009 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  20. Reg


    We woke up by electing "fairly" Obama, instead of McSenile & Witchcraft Barbie of the North!

    When dubya put the reaganomics in effect on steriods we have destroyed economies all over the World! The bush crime family
    started with a 128 Billion surplus in 2000. Where are we now??

    Free handouts to Billionaires (AIG) is your cup of tea instead!
    Come'on Scott your my fellow American and I respect how you
    feel, however the FACTS have no emotion!

    Obama is "Jonny Come Lately"!

    January 8, 2009 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  21. Ray Fisher

    Anyone with a brain should have concerns about spending that much money yet there are also concerns about what if we don't spend that much money!!! I don't understand why the money can't be broken in phases and targeted to specific areas and timeframes with measures of effectiveness so if it fails to acheive goals, then pull back and try something else. However it pans out, we must take action and fast. Along with this vital issue, action to reverse the deregulatory statutes should also begin immediately so not to perpetuate our challenges. The lending rules, SEC, Wall Street, etc... must be reregulated quickly to reverse the disaster!!!

    January 8, 2009 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  22. Allen

    After rolling over from 2001 thru 2006, and playing dead from 2006 thru 2008, now the Senate Dems. are going to grow a pair?

    I suppose they are trying to make up for not taking on Bush! Maybe they just want to say that they actually accomplished constructive during this decade. Impeaching Bush and Cheney would have impressed me a lot more than this.

    January 8, 2009 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  23. Ray Fisher

    I am 100% disabled however, have refused all bailouts till now and will refuse this also. People on disability should not accept any bailout since it is targeted to boost the economy of which we are simply a drain. I'm hoping those who don't need any money will refuse any bailouts.

    January 8, 2009 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  24. bc canadian

    Put people back to work by creating jobs by building infrastruture, that we need,. finding ways to make enviroment friendly electicity, make efficient electric cars etc. These are all needed anyway, why not do it now. This will not create much of a deficit anyway, because it will replace people collecting unemployment insurance to people paying taxes. People who are part of the problem [unemployed] will become part or the solution [employed].
    Reducing taxes only increases the deficit. If we don't care about the future than large deficits don't matter I guess.
    I am a tax payer who is employed at this time. I want to be part of the solution. If I become unemployed than I would like help. But because I am employed than I wnat to be a Helper.


    January 8, 2009 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  25. CH in Maine

    Okay people, lets take a step back from the way George W Bush did things. So Sen Harkin disagrees with parts of the stimulus plan. Will Obama attack him? Challenge his patriotism? Will he be blasted on some moronic radio show? No he will not.

    Here is what will happen. Obama and his people will listen to the concerns of the Senator. They will not address them all but they will be respectful and agree where they can. Eventually Harkin will vote for the stimulus and it will be better for his input.

    That is what the founding fathers had in mind and although the Bush administration represent the pinnacle of straying from this ideal Obama will be returning to the process.

    And here is the kicker: He will listen to Republicans too!

    Now that is change I can believe in.

    January 8, 2009 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
1 2 3