Emanuel, Pelosi Make Case for Stimulus

Posted January 18, 2009 at 11:50am

Incoming White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel on Sunday defended Democrats’ $825 billion stimulus proposal against GOP accusations that it is larded with excessive spending.

It is “ironic” that Republicans are complaining about deficit spending when they are “responsible for policies that left America further behind in the sense of deep, deep red,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” The stimulus bill makes “critical investments” at a time when “we have not yet approached to date this economic crisis.”

On “Fox News Sunday,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she expected the stimulus package to pick up GOP support as it travels through the committee process. Pelosi noted that she sent the measure to committee – rather than straight to the floor – as a concession to Republicans.

“I think we will get Republican votes on this because it has tax cuts for the middle class. Ninety-five percent of the American people will get a tax cut,” she said.

But Pelosi reiterated that she wants to repeal President George W. Bush’s tax cuts before they expire in 2010, a split from what President-elect Barack Obama is proposing.

“I don’t want them to wait two years to expire because they have to prove their worth to me,” Pelosi said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Still, any efforts to raise taxes on the wealthy will only be considered after economic stimulus legislation is passed in mid-February, Pelosi said. “It’s not time to be talking about that now.”

Obama has said he supports ending tax cuts for people making more than $250,000, but has wavered on doing so in the immediate future because of the economic crisis.

On a separate front, Pelosi signaled that she is receptive to the idea of prosecuting Bush administration officials over the war in Iraq.

“I think you look at each item and see what is a violation of the law and do we even have a right to ignore it,” she said.

House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) last week called for an independent probe into whether the Bush administration broke the law by taking the nation to war against Iraq and instituting aggressive anti-terror initiatives.

“We cannot let the politicizing of, for example, the Justice Department to go unreviewed,” Pelosi said. “I want to see the truth come forth.”

In his appearance, Emanuel disagreed with recent claims by the outgoing president that his decision to go to war in Iraq resulted in there being no attacks on U.S. soil over the past seven years.

“That’s not a conclusion I would draw. I don’t agree with that. I don’t think that’s a position President-elect Obama would draw,” he said.

Despite lobbing criticism at Republicans, Emanuel said he is capable of shedding his long-time reputation as a partisan player to represent the bipartisan vision of Obama’s team.

“Hopefully, in the last 20 years, I’ve matured,” he said, adding that “a number of Republicans” would say he approaches negotiations in a bipartisan manner. He pointed to his work last week with Senate Republicans to pass legislation releasing Wall Street bailout funds.

That bill “was not popular,” Emanuel said, but it passed on a bipartisan vote and without “the type of rancor and political posturing that has been done over the years. … I helped, as [Obama’s] chief of staff, get that legislation. And also, most importantly, helped change the tone in which we had a policy debate.”