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Agenda: The tax break cometh

The New York Times front-pages that Team Obama plans to include "about $300 billion in tax cuts for workers and businesses in his economic recovery program. The legislation Mr. Obama is developing with Congressional Democrats will devote about 40 percent of the cost to tax cuts, including his centerpiece campaign promise to provide credits up to $500 for most workers, costing roughly $150 billion. The package will also include more than $100 billion in tax incentives for businesses to create jobs and invest in equipment or factories."

More: "Although some tax cuts were always expected to be included in Mr. Obama's economic package, his team disclosed the scope and some details of the plans on Sunday at a time when Republicans have begun voicing criticism of what they describe as an open-checkbook approach to spending. By focusing more attention on the tax cuts in the plan, Obama aides hope to frame it as a balanced, pragmatic approach."

The Wall Street Journal: "The Obama tax-cut proposals, if enacted, could pack more punch in two years than either of President George W. Bush's tax cuts did in their first two years. Mr. Bush's 10-year, $1.35 trillion tax cut of 2001, considered the largest in history, contained $174 billion of cuts during its first two full years, according to Congress's Joint Committee on Taxation. The second-largest tax cut -- the 10-year, $350 billion package engineered by Mr. Bush in 2003 -- contained $231 billion in 2004 and 2005."
"Republicans and business leaders hadn't seen specifics of the proposals Sunday night, but welcomed the idea of basing a bigger proportion of the stimulus plan on tax cuts. Their response suggests the legislation could attract relatively broad support, and it highlighted the Obama team's determination to win backing from varied interests."

Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell says that, if the GOP gets the opportunity to collaborate in building the stimulus package, it could garner hefty Republican support. 

As for timing, the new deadline-du-jour today is President's Day... Per the pool report, incoming White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told the traveling press corps last night that he agreed with House Majority Steny Hoyer "that it was 'very, very unlikely' that an economic stimulus package would be ready by Jan. 20. 'We don't anticipate that Congress will have passed both Houses an Economic Recovery and Reinvestment plan by the time the inauguration takes places.'"

Gibbs also said that today's meetings on Capitol Hill "are designed to get legitimate bipartisan input and to convey a sense of urgency. 'Tomorrow begins anew that work but I think the added urgency that we've seen, statistics, we've seen Christmas sales, consumer confidence and obviously upcoming job numbers which underscore that a very serious situation has only gotten worse and isn't likely to get better any time soon.'"

Democratic lobbyist Billy Moore says these four questions will determine whether Obama's post-partisan promise becomes reality: "Will Republicans be allowed to make substantive contributions to the rescue package? Will they have a voice in the most partisan responsibility of Congress, the budget? Can Obama convince Democratic leaders in Congress that it is in their interest to let the Republicans play a meaningful role? Will Republicans, especially in the Senate, find cooperation a more productive path and turn aside automatic filibusters against Administration proposals?"