GOP can't agree on economic plan

Jan. 30, 2009 at 7:08 AM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 30 (UPI) -- U.S. Congressional Republicans may be unified against the $819 billion economic stimulus plan but they're disjointed about an alternative, insiders say.

As Republicans resist President Barack Obama's plan, they have plenty of ideas, but they don't have consensus on a substitute, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday.

"There is not a coherent Republican message at this moment," said lobbyist Vin Weber, a former GOP House member representing Minnesota.

The House passed its version of the stimulus bill Wednesday without one GOP vote despite President Barack Obama's plea for bipartisanship. The Senate is expected to take up its version next week where Obama and Democrats say they hope some Republicans will cast a yes vote.

Yet, Republicans are playing from a position of weakness, both in terms of congressional numbers and popularity, so their message has to include options, one think tank fellow said.

"When your message is you're better than the alternative, you have to have ideas," said Brian Darling, director of Senate relations for the conservative think tank Heritage Foundation.

One Republican communications strategist said the party is struggling to regain credibility on economic matters in the wake of free-wheeling spending during the Bush administration.

"I don't think there's very much Republicans can do on economic matters right now, other than get out of the way ... then let the chips fall where they may," Don Sipple told the Times. "If there's an opening down the road, or the stimulus package is a bust, that might open up some opportunities. But I think they've got to walk on eggshells for a while."

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