Republican Leader Hopes Obama Can ‘Get Through’ to Democrats on Stimulus Package

By Susan Jones | February 2, 2009 | 11:45 AM EST

( – Bipartisanship means including Republican ideas in the economic stimulus package, Sen. Mitch McConnell  (R-Ky.) said on Monday.
The Senate Republican leader said President Obama needs to get that message across to the Democratic leadership when they meet with Obama at the White House Monday night.
“I hope he can get through to them that the way to build this package is indeed to do it on a bipartisan basis, which doesn’t mean just talking to us, but including ideas that we think would work. And also we need to make sure that we’re not borrowing money to spend on projects that are not going to stimulate the economy,” McConnell said at a press conference.
McConnell said the president needs to “put the Democratic leaders of the House and Senate in line. He needs to talk with them. He needs to let them know that the measures that they are moving forward don’t meet his own standard.”
The Obama administration has said that the stimulus package must be “timely, temporary and targeted.”
Obama, meanwhile, repeated his call for swift passage of a stimulus package on Monday. He said lawmakers shouldn't allow "very modest differences" to block quick action on stimulating the economy.
McConnell said Republicans want to “fix the main problem first,” and he said that would be housing. “That will be a part of whatever we offer on the floor,” he said.
McConnell also said it’s important to “put money back in people’s hands directly” through lower tax rates for people who are currently in the 15- and 10-percent income tax brackets.
McConnell said most Republicans know the economy needs to be jump started, but they also know it can be done for less than what is currently being proposed. “Most of my members believe that we can pass a very robust stimulus for less than the amount currently before us,” he said.   
McConnell noted that one of his colleagues recently tried to put a trillion dollars in context: “If you started spending the day that Jesus was born, and you spent a million dollars every single day, you still wouldn’t have spent a trillion dollars,” McConnell said. “It’s a lot of money.”
Republicans, outnumbered by Democrats in the Senate, won’t win passage of every amendment they propose, McConnell acknowledged. “But I can tell you this, with regard to this measure that’s on the floor this week, there is considerable…Democratic senatorial unrest about this package.
“I think there is a bipartisan feeling that this is not the way to get the economy moving, and hopefully we’ll see that exhibited on various amendments where we may have some bipartisan success in modifying the bill and making it more in line with what I think the president was talking about…”