Liberal Activists Call for More Spending on Top of $787-Billion Stimulus

By Josiah Ryan | February 17, 2009 | 6:55 PM EST

( - Liberal activists called for more government spending to spur the economy on top of the $787-billion stimulus package at a meeting yesterday at the Center for American Progress (CAP), a liberal think tank with close ties to the Obama administration.

But Grover Norquist, president of the conservative Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), told that Democrats know their stimulus policy will fail and want more spending for political gain rather than to fix the economy. If things get worse it will be, in part, because of the stimulus package, said Norquist.

The U.S. economy will need more “stimulus” spending Heather Boushey, a senior economist at the CAP Action Fund, told “We are going to spend more money, I hope. We are going to need to continue to keep spending and keep deficit spending until we are through the problem.”

“While the [$789-billion] package was big, it was bold, it was terrific and we should all applaud Congress and the president for getting that package through, it is still, probably, most likely, not big enough to get us out of the problems that we are in,” said Boushey. “And I find that almost incomprehensible.”

Norquist said that Democrats already are predicting dismal prospects for the stimulus’s success because they know their policy will not work. The current stimulus deal is really about political spending rather than economic recovery, he said.

“If they knew this was going to work, they would not be explaining ahead of time how it’s going to fail,” Norquist told “The Obama people are already saying things are going to get worse before they get better because they know the stimulus is about paying back their friends rather than fixing the economy.”

Ian Kim, the green-collar jobs campaign director at the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, who spoke at the CAP panel, also said the stimulus package should be considered a first step towards recovery.

“I really do see this stimulus package, as important as it is, as a scrimmage run,” said Kim. “This is the first play of what will need to be many plays for our governing coalitions.”

Boushey warned, however, that despite the need for more spending, Americans may not have the appetite for another so-called “stimulus package” and that money may have to be spent in other ways.

“There probably won’t be an appetite for reconsidering this for several months,” said Boushey, “if Congress insists on a balanced budget or insists on cutting back funding that would undo everything we just did.”

Norquist, however, said the Democrats’ gloomy predictions for the economy are a sign that there spending-America-out-of-recession will not work.

“It’s like a guy saying he is going to turn lead into gold,” said Norquist. “It’s not like if you tried really hard it’s going to work. They want more spending even though they admit it won’t fix the economy because it has everything to do with wanting to spend more on their political friends.”

John Podesta, the president and chief executive officer of CAP, was the co-chairman of the Obama White House transition team.

It has also been widely reported that several CAP alumni, including former Health and Human Services (HHS) nominee Sen. Tom Daschle (D-N.D.), who served as CAP senior fellow, were nominated (or hired) to positions in the Obama administration in the last several months. (Daschle withdrew his name from nomination on Feb. 3 because of a scandal involving his failure to properly pay more than $120,000 in taxes.)

The CAP panel discussion was entitled, “Recovery Package = New Jobs: How Do Low Wage Workers Fit into the Equation?”

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