There’s a lot that could perhaps be said about Matt Bai’s latest article but at this point I think you have to tune out political commentary that lists “[t]he administration turned control of the roughly $800 billion stimulus package over to Congress” among its complaints. Control of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act lay with congress because congress writes laws in this country.
I’m about as sympathetic as one could be to this complaint. I like parliamentary systems where the executive branch writes laws and then legislatures either rubber stamp decisions made by the cabinet or else bring the whole cabinet down. But that’s a different kind of system of government not a different tactical philosophy of how to run the White House. The country has suffered from the fact that ARRA was a legislative compromise between David Obey and Olympia Snow rather than a technocratic lighting bolt, but there’s no other way to run the country. The president can whip votes and frame issues and set priorities, but there’s just no way to take congress out of the bill-writing process.