The opening of the 111th Congress was mostly procedural but it did set the tone for the upcoming debate over the proposed economic stimulus plan. President-elect Barack Obama has told leaders on Capitol Hill he wants a mix of tax cuts, public works projects, aid for states, and longer jobless benefits.
Wisconsin Senate Democrat Herb Kohl says the package must be big-and-bold enough to put people to work. Majority Democrats are working on a plan that could cost a $1 trillion. But Janesville House Republican Paul Ryan says the process is going so fast, billions could end up going down the drain without helping the economy.
Menomonee Falls House Republican Jim Sensenbrenner says much of the new spending will probably borrowed, thus boosting the national debt. Even Democrats like Ron Kind of La Crosse say the debt must come down or quote, "We're setting the next generation up for failure."
Obama and leaders of both houses say they'll need the support of minority Republicans to pass something major. But Sensenbrenner says House Democrats actually shut out the GOP by passing internal rules which make it harder to offer alternative measures.