2009 is going to be a tough year for conservatives. We face a new liberal president in the White House, an adoring and compliant media establishment at his disposal, and safe majorities in both the House and Senate. But all hope is not lost. President-elect Barack Obama knows he campaigned on many conservative themes and that the American people simply will not tolerate a sudden lurch to the left. The New Year is just five days old and yet conservatives have already scored some minor victories that we can build on.

It was just one month ago that Obama was demanding an economic stimulus package be on his desk by his January 20th Inauguration Day. But now, thanks to conservative leader calls for an open and honest debate about whether we really need $1 trillion in new government spending, the Obama transition team is acknowledging that the stimulus bill will have to be delayed at least until mid-February.

More importantly, conservatives are also making progress on significantly changing the actual content of the stimulus bill. Tacitly accepting a core conservative belief, Obama’s team has dropped any plans to raise taxes because the plan is “focused on measures that create jobs.” And not only is Obama promising not to raise taxes: the size of the tax cuts in the plan also keep rising and are now at 40%. In addition to the payroll tax cut Obama floated earlier, his latest plan also includes $100 billion in tax incentives for businesses. Now of course, many of these business “tax incentives” are terribly ill conceived and will do nothing to stimulate economic growth (Obama’s one-year tax credit for businesses that make new hires or forgo layoffs is one example. How exactly will the IRS determine which companies would have laid off people and which companies would have hired people anyway?)

As much progress as conservatives have made in slowing down the bum’s rush to blow $1 trillion in taxpayer money without any debate, there are still some truly terrible ideas that must be defeated. In his weekly radio address this Saturday, Obama promised that his economic stimulus plan would include enough spending for 600,000 new government employees. This is part of the left’s larger plan to use this economic crisis to permanently and significantly expand the size of the federal government. These ideas most be resisted at all costs. Part and parcel to this permanent expansion of economic-growth-killing-government is Obama’s plan to create a chief performance officer and a chief technology officer. These are just government jobs for the sake of government jobs. The existing agency heads should be competent enough to upgrade their agencies technology and evaluate government program effectiveness. Adding another layer of government bureaucracy is no way to increase performance or improve the adoption of technology.

These are just some of the stimulus debate battles that lie ahead. The left will also be pushing for hundreds of billions of bailout dollars for states like California, New York, and New Jersey who have far left state legislatures that have been over spending for years. Spending for “green jobs” that even Obama’s new budget chief, Peter Orzag has called “totally impractical” must also be killed. You can follow all of these fights on Heritage’s new Rapid Response page, which is a one-stop place on our website with all of our work on the economic stimulus - where you can read our best research papers, related commentaries, new blog posts and view videos that make the case for a proposal that helps the economy reach a sustained, higher level of growth.

Quick Hits

  • Citing his involvement in a “pay-to-play” investigation New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson withdrew from consideration as Obama’s Commerce Secretary.
  • According to the Wall Street Journal, an organized campaign by low-income housing groups and Hispanic lawmakers is behind the mortgage borrowing spree that is now resulting in a wave of foreclosures.
  • Legislatures in New York, Georgia, Oklahoma and Wyoming and state ballot propositions in Montana, Nevada and Arizona are all taking up proposals to curb sky rocketing property taxes.
  • The relatives of Mexicans in the United States have become a new profit center for Mexico’s crime industry.
  • Two years after San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom called for a crackdown on brothels that front as massage parlors, city health officials know of, but refuse to shut down, more than 50 city-licensed establishments where sex is traded for money.