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Obama sets himself a high political bar

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There are risks for all concerned.

Obama will ultimately sign some sort of stimulus legislation, given the Democrats’ strength in Congress. But if it fails to get the economy back on solid footing,

Obama will lose his luster with the public. Congressional Democrats, not all that popular as a group, will miss an opportunity to boost their image.

If most Republicans continue to vote “no,” they risk looking like naysayers at a time when their party is trying to regain its image as a party of ideas.

House Republicans did put forth their own stimulus plan, but with the knowledge that the Democratic plan was where the action is. House Republican leaders also telegraphed a disinterest in Obama’s overtures by instructing their members to vote no even before the president went to Capitol Hill on Tuesday.

The Democratic plan contains tax cuts - $275 billion worth, or about a third of the package – which Republicans like, in principle, though they object to the fact that some low-income workers who don’t pay income tax would get money back anyway.

They would also like the tax cuts to be bigger. And Republicans complain that the spending portion of the bill contains money for special projects that they believe will do little for the economy in the short term and will have questionable long-term economic benefit.

In a statement issued after the House vote, Obama betrayed no disappointment over the lack of Republican support, and signaled an openness to accommodating more GOP wishes.

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