Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Collins v. Whistleblowers?

What does Sen. Collins have against oversight? This is starting to look like a pattern...

Monday, February 9, 2009

Collins Zeroed Out LIHEAP?

From this morning:

Unlike the House bill, the Senate version does not include additional funds for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which helps low-income families pay utility bills. The House bill has another $1 billion for the program.
Um, I thought Sen. Collins favored more money for LIHEAP? (Or is keeping poor people from freezing insufficiently stimulative?)

UPDATE: Gerald reads more carefully than I do: Why on earth did Collins demand a $3.3 billion cut to home weatherization programs?

Why on earth would she characterize a program that will create jobs, stimulate the economy, benefit her own constituents and protect the environment as "bloat"?

UPDATE UPDATE: A source tells us that LIHEAP and weatherization funding had been stripped from the bill that originally surfaced in the Senate. (The CQ article was ambiguous on this point.)

So it's not quite fair to say, based on what we know, that the junior senator demanded cuts to those programs.

On the other hand, she's championing a version of the bill with no LIHEAP funding and $3.3 billion less in weatherization--while rejecting the version that includes those funds as "bloated."

So draw your own conclusions.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

One on One

Lost in the tumult of the last few days was a striking admission from Sen. Collins: That her face-to-face conversation with President Obama last week represents the first time she's had a 30 minute one-on-one meeting with a sitting president. (Hat tip: Maine Politics.)

Think about this for a minute.

For eight years, Collins backed President Bush down the line on Iraq, unaffordable tax cuts and torture. She did his bidding when it came to Samuel Alito, telecom immunity and war contracting.

And yet securing her support for these egregious policies--which have crippled our economy, undercut our security, violated the Constitution and diminished our international standing--required not a single block of one-on-one persuasion from the former president.

She was, I guess, already on board.

This tells us something about President Obama. And of course, it's in keeping with what we knew about the other guy.

But surely, it speaks volumes about the junior senator.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Collins Cuts: 600,000 Fewer Jobs?

That's what Krugman says:

The centrists have shaved off $86 billion in spending--much of it among the most effective and most needed parts of the plan. In particular, aid to state governments, which are in desperate straits, is both fast--because it prevents spending cuts rather than having to start up new projects--and effective, because it would in fact be spent.

Friday, February 6, 2009

$166 Million Less For Maine

PPH tells us something worth knowing:

The Maine Education Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees joined forces to bring pressure to bear on key senators, including Maine Republicans Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe.

The groups estimate that about $166 million in funding for education and Head Start in Maine would be stripped from the stimulus bill as part of a compromise negotiated by a bipartisan group led by Collins.

Question of the Day

Now that Sen. Collins is a celebrity, how is her fame helping Maine?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Said Better Here

Via TPM:

What's most striking about this list is that, for all their carping about this hodgepodge of a bill, the Nelson-Collins group seems to have approached their cuts in an even more haphazard fashion. They're not offering a comprehensive or coherent approach to stimulus spending. They haven't established a fixed standard, against which they're measuring each item. They don't have any sense of how big the overall package needs to be in order to work. They're just canvassing members to find out which items it's politically feasible to remove...

If Collins and Nelson had a shred of seriousness, they would be proposing the elimination of individual items--and then the substitution of programs they felt would stimulate the economy more efficiently. Where are the substitutes? Or, if they think the bill is bigger than necessary, they could announce a target amount and a rationale for why that lesser amount would work. Where's the target?

This isn't centrism. It's not fiscal conservatism. It's just grandstanding.

The Collins Conundrum

One of the frustrating things about trying to write intelligently about Sen. Collins--I said trying--is that she's incredibly hard to pin down. And the stimulus is a perfect example.

First, we hear she wants to expand the bill and add more infrastructure. Then we're told that she wants more infrastructure at the expense of other programs. And this week we learn that she wants a significantly smaller bill with infrastructure cuts.

What principle can accommodate all three stances? From what substantive critique of the current bill could all three positions possibly stem?

And if it's not about substance, what is it about?

One thing is clear: It can't just be about getting to sixty votes to avert a filibuster. Because if Collins herself votes for cloture, it means the bill almost undoubtedly already has the 60 votes it needs to come to a vote. (A vote it will win by a very healthy margin.)

So it can't be about trying to help the bill pass. The junior senator must have some other reason for pressing for cuts to stimulative spending during the worst economic crisis in generations.

It would be nice if she told someone in the press what that reason is.

To What End?

It appears that Sen. Collins wants to cut from the stimulus special education funding targeted to forestall hundreds of thousands of teacher layoffs in economically disadvantaged areas.

Does she think allowing a massive numbers special education teachers to be laid off won't further hurt the economy? Or that keeping these people employed isn't stimulative?

Does she dispute the notion that the cuts she's calling for would result in layoffs?

Or does she have something against funding special education in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods?

In the alternative universe in which Maine has a functioning press corps, someone is asking the junior senator these questions.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Line Drawing

From the beginning I've assumed that Sen. Collins would vote in favor of the final stimulus bill. And that still seems extremely likely.

The more interesting question, it seems to me, is if--in the meantime--she's interested in working to make the legislation more effective. Or if she'd prefer to water it down.

Sadly, her vote on the Murray amendment reinforces the idea that the latter is the case.

Remember, Collins has been calling for more infrastructure spending. And the junior senator voted for literally trillions of dollars in tax cuts for the rich under President Bush.

But an extra $25 billion in highway, mass transit, water and sewer spending is where she draws the line?

Of course, she's a moderate bipartisan centrist, so I'm sure she had a good reason.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


First, CNN said Sen. Collins wanted a bigger stimulus. Now they say she's aiming smaller.

Did CNN get it wrong the first time? Did Collins shift 180 degrees within the span of a few days?

It would be interesting to hear the junior senator explain how making the bill smaller will make it more effective.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Sen. Collins Is Making Sense

She can't help lacing her argument with boilerplate bipartisan rhetoric. But on substance, I can't argue with the junior senator.

Am I missing something here?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

What Will She Tell The Children?

The MAINEiacs to Quebec? (A bit of background here.)