I think people who saw the Senate’s watered-down stimulus as just a clever bit of rope-a-dope to set the “centrists” up for conference committee hijinks have been debunked. The pivotal Senators—the Ben Nelsons and Arlen Specters of the world—in whose hands lie the fate of filibusterable legislation are just genuinely committed to bad public policy. Still, the Senate bill was a lot better than nothing and the conference report is better than the Senate bill, largely thanks to Nancy Pelosi who continues to be the most underrated progressive leader in America:
House Democrats, angry over some cuts, particularly for school construction, initially balked at the deal and delayed a final meeting on Wednesday between House and Senate negotiators.
Democratic officials said Speaker Nancy Pelosi felt that Mr. Reid went too far by announcing a deal before it was vetted by her office and discussed by House members in an emergency caucus meeting, setting off the last-minute flare-up.
Ms. Pelosi said at a news conference that the delay helped House Democrats win some final concessions, including an agreement to let states use some money in a fiscal stabilization fund for school renovations. “There is no question that one of our overriding priorities in the House was a very strong commitment to school construction,” she said. “That’s still in the bill.”
Still, despite Pelosi’s best efforts a lot of good stimulative ideas were left out of this package and a lot of the topline dollar figure has been dedicated to an AMT patch that’s useless as stimulus. The administration and the House Democrats still know what these good ideas are, and as best I know they still think they’re good ideas, and I think it’s important that they find ways to work some of those ideas into the regular budget process.