I'm with Scott, to no one's great surprise. Democrats don't really have to give an inch on this economic stimulus package, and it's, to use a word I already use too much, baffling that they don't see it. It's not just that they've got various ways to pass the bill to avoid a filibuster, or to force it and cause the Republicans to embarrass themselves. It's that they can sell this to the people if they want. They're too worried about selling it to the media, which will never work because it's like pleading for favors from an avowed enemy. Between the rich assholes who think they can stay rich by avoiding taxes even as they flush this country's economy down the toilet and idiots who genuinely fear being called names by Rush Limbaugh, liberals have few friends in the big time punditry.
Limbaugh has given the marching orders: Obama Must Fail. Realistically, that means the Republicans feel that it's their partisan duty to ruin this country with the hopes that ill-informed swing voters will vote for them in desperation next two election. Not just ruin Obama or the Democrats, but ruin the country. That unemployment rate needs to keep going up, according to Limbaugh's orders, so they can blame Democrats and get elected, even if it's actually their own fault. With opposition thus motivated, there's only one thing to do---make sure that the public sees how much the Republicans are fighting any attempt to save the economy. Which means that forcing a filibuster, while tiresome, might be a great idea, because then the video of the filibuster can be used to make ads that should be run non-stop from here until the next election in any swing districts with Republican representation. The ad could actually be pretty simple. Play the clip of Limbaugh saying he wants Obama to fail. Show Republicans filibustering. Voiceover: "Why is Senator X following Rush Limbaugh's orders while State Y lost Z many jobs?" "Why should bankers get $700 billion while hard-working Americans like you get no help at all?"
The tagline could be, "Republicans: Fiddling While America Burns".
Hell, just make these ads and show them privately to a few moderate Republican Senators. Make it clear that these ads will be shown on a regular basis from here until the election while the party invests a significant portion of its resources into their opponents' campaigns. The netroots will no doubt be on hand for targeted fund-raising.
The $700 billion payout to bankers is, contrary to what the mainstream media might think, one major reason, probably the major reason that this stimulus package should be an easy sell to the public. The polling data I've seen supports that package, and if the Democrats framed it more like, "Banks got theirs, now it's time you got yours," that would probably go up. It wasn't just the price tag of the bank bailout that made people flinch. More, it was the sense that the government is just a subsidiary of big business and out to rob us to line the pockets of the rich. If the public actually thought they'd see some of the money being spent coming back at them, they'd be on board.