Done deal

DONE DEAL…. We don’t yet have the details, but the negotiations over an economic stimulus bill are done, a deal is in place, and passage in the House and Senate seems assured.

House and Senate negotiators reached agreement today on a stimulus plan with a cost of about $789 billion after scaling down the versions passed by both houses, congressional leaders announced.

“The differences between the Senate and House versions were resolved,” Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) told reporters this afternoon.

He said the final version “creates more jobs than the original Senate bill and spends less than the original House bill.” The bill passed by the Senate yesterday totaled $838 billion. The House version approved last week had a price tag of $819 billion.

The AP added, “The measure includes money for victims of the recession, money for cash-strapped states and tax cuts for individuals and businesses.”

In terms of the politics, I think Ben Smith’s analysis sounds about right.

My first instinct is that, despite some handwringing, it’s hard not to see this as a pretty clean win for the president. During the transition Obama called for a stimulus package in that ballpark, and said he hoped to get it through by first week in February.

It’s February 11, just a few days late, and he appears to have more or less what he wanted. He’s now going to get credit for massive spending on thousands of popular projects, further enhancing his political capital, at least for now.

He, and the plan, will be judged on the larger course of the economy. But this deal appears to leave a strong president even stronger.

I think that’s true, and it seems especially true given that the entire package appeared to be in deep trouble, more than once.

There’s one other angle to consider, which has been simmering just below the surface: will congressional Republicans vote for it after having voted against it? About a week ago, The Hill reported that some Republicans, who balked at the bill during the first go-around, have “hinted” that they would support the “merged House-Senate legislation.” These GOP lawmakers know it’s going to pass anyway, and don’t want to be on record rejecting a bill that will deliver tax cuts and funds to their state/district.

To be sure, I wouldn’t expect a lot of Republicans to switch, but Salon‘s Mike Madden recently reported that some GOP lawmakers, especially in the House, will see the first floor vote as “siding with their leadership,” and the final floor vote as “siding with constituents.”

Something to keep an eye on.

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