RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:
We just heard a note there about President Obama's push to change the way Washington does business. Still, there's little support among House Republicans for his economic recovery plan, at least in its current form. Joining us now for some analysis is NPR's Cokie Roberts. Good morning.
COKIE ROBERTS: Good morning, Renee.
MONTAGNE: So what happened to the bipartisanship on this very first, very important measure?
ROBERTS: So what they're saying is this is, essentially, for all the bipartisan talk, this is essentially a Democratic bill. Now, Speaker Pelosi argued there are things in this bill that wouldn't be in it without Republican input. She says they could have voted for it based on that. And they say not. Look, they know the president wants to be bipartisan, and they're a little bit like the kid with the new babysitter, who's testing it. Seeing how far they can push the president on this very important piece of legislation.
MONTAGNE: He will be meeting - the president will be meeting with House Republicans this week. Last week, he mentioned to them that, you know, as I - To quote him, he won. Is there any likelihood that he'll persuade the other side to change its position?
ROBERTS: But there were others where he said to the Republican whip, Eric Cantor, he said, this isn't crazy. So I think that, you know, that there are some places where he is willing to go along, willing to listen. He's certainly done that on a number of business tax cuts, or tax credits, for small business. And, you know, he has - he clearly has the upper hand, to put it mildly. Not only did he win, but since then, his poll numbers have only gone up. And the Republican numbers have not. So he can obviously use that.
MONTAGNE: And the Republican leader in the Senate has taken something of a different tone. Mitch McConnell has said Republicans have to be more cooperative, even if it gets them criticism from with in their own party. What do you make of that?
ROBERTS: And now what you're seeing is, to a certain degree, each side trying to make bipartisanship a partisan issue. You know, I'm being more bipartisan than you are. And that's an interesting dynamic to see play out.
MONTAGNE: Well Cokie, just finally, which party do you think will get more out of this, I'm anti-partisan?
ROBERTS: Well I think in the immediate moment, the Republicans can on this stimulus package because the president wants it to pass quickly. So they have some leverage on that. But that can change any minute. The minute that somebody starts pressing too hard, pushing too far, and Republicans talking about, we're here to support the taxpayer, the taxpayer has to make sure - they have to make sure the taxpayer believes that. So they have to be very careful how far they push, because this whole thing can then start to look partisan, even as they're saying, where's the bipartisanship? A little complicated.
MONTAGNE: Cokie, thanks very much. NPR News analyst Cokie Roberts.
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