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February 6th, 2009
THE DIG
In post-partisan era, bipartisan opposition to Obama’s stimulus

Tom McNamara, Blueprint America
President Barack Obama has brought change to Washington, D.C. In this newly declared post-partisan era of politics, there is growing bipartisan opposition to the President’s economic stimulus package.

The House approved its version of the stimulus package on Jan. 28, estimated to cost $819 billion. The Senate is set to vote soon on its version, which carries a price tag nearing $920 billion.

Before that vote takes place, a bipartisan group of about 20 senators looks to cut provisions from the bill that would not quickly create jobs or encourage spending by consumers and businesses.

The bipartisan group drafted a list of nearly $90 billion in cuts, including, as The New York Times reports, “$40 billion in aid for states, more than $14 billion for various education programs, $4.1 billion to make federal buildings energy efficient and $1.5 billion for broadband Internet service in rural areas.”

As the Senate delays passage of the bill, it was reported today that the U.S. lost almost 600,000 jobs in January and the unemployment rate rose to 7.6 percent, its highest level in more than 16 years, the Labor Department said.

In response, President Obama called the hold up in Congress “inexcusable and irresponsible.” The President also said in an address at the Department of Energy that Republican proposals are “rooted in the idea that tax cuts alone can solve all our problems, that government doesn’t have a role to play, that half measures and tinkering are somehow enough, that we can afford to ignore our most fundamental economic challenges. Those ideas have been tested, and they have failed.”

The support of at least two Republicans – and probably more – will be needed by the Democrats to pass the stimulus bill, which for procedural reasons requires 60 votes.

Originally $820 billion in the House-passed bill, the cost of the Senate measure has risen substantially with a $64 billion provision to allow middle class Americans to forgo paying the alternative minimum tax in 2009, and the inclusion of $30 billion in tax breaks for purchases of homes and cars.

What about infrastructure?

As the stimulus package touted to rebuild the American economy with infrastructure spending continues to just add tax-cut provisions – even rejecting an additional amendment to provide more funding for public works projects – President Obama is again emphasizing the importance of infrastructure investment.

On Feb. 3, the President sat down with the anchors of the major American television networks to defend his economic stimulus plan. In an interview with ABC’s Charles Gibson, President Obama said:

“I actually think that if you look at the package that came out of the House, here’s what we’ve got. We’ve got provisions to help states who are seeing record numbers of people unemployed, providing them unemployment insurance, food stamps, making sure that they don’t lose their health care. That’s the right thing to do. Not only does it stimulate the economy, but it gives families immediate relief. We focus on making sure that in addition to creating jobs, we’re laying the foundation for long-term economic growth. So we invest in infrastructure, around new green jobs and energy, making sure that we are weatherizing homes to save on our energy bills long term…

… The criticisms have generally been around some policy initiatives that were placed in the bill that I think are actually good policy, but some people may say is not going to actually stimulate jobs quickly enough. I think that there’s legitimate room for working through those issues over the next several weeks to make sure that we get the best possible bill. But here’s the thing that I think we have to understand. The economy is in desperate straits. What I won’t do is adopt the same economic theories that helped land us in the worst economy since the Great Depression. What I will do is work with anybody of good faith to make sure that we can come up with the best possible package to not only create jobs and provide support to families, but also to lay the groundwork for long-term economic growth…”

[Download the Recovery Plan Metrics Report (PDF) from the Obama Administration]

Sources: ABC, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, whitehouse.gov

  • howard

    It is going to be a long four years. This is Obama’s mess. The economic experts should have draft this bill and sent it to be voted instead of letting Pelosi, Reid, and other democratic leaders write a pork package. Obama’s lack of experience is already starting to show.

  • tony

    I OPPOSE THIS PORKCOLOUS PACKAGE THAT OBAMA OWN!!!!!!
    PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE VOTE NO NO NO NO TO this sticky garbage package!!!

  • Maggie

    Republicans have had 1 idea in 30 years: tax cuts. And after 8 years of complete incompetence by the Bush administration, and decades of Republicans brainwashing the American public into thinking that trickle-down economics is the only way, the idea that “this is Obama’s mess” is ludicrous. Republican policies got us into this mess–they have zero credibility. Only progressive policies from Obama and the Democrats can get us out.

  • Neil

    Did I understand correctly that the Republicans want to cut education spending because they think “it won’t create jobs”? Really? We need teachers, those positions are jobs, and we seriously need to spend more on education. If we don’t start thinking about the long term, like educating our citizens for the jobs of tomorrow (and today), we won’t be arguing about spending or “pork” anymore.

  • Perry Polnaszek

    Isn’t there a way other than this all right or all left way of thinking? Is common sense and telling the truth in love dead? Yes its the republicans fault. No more nor no less than the democrats. Its all our faults.
    Now what are we going to do about it? Where are the men and woman who would say, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”, or “Ask not what your country can do for you…”?
    If you want to start there I am all in all the time.

  • OSHAPro

    Many people bidding for some of these government funded construction projects will be left out in the cold if they do not have their OSHA training. Several states (NY, CT, MA, RI, NH, and MO) have laws requiring workers on publically-funded jobsites to take the OSHA 10 hour construction training class, like the ones available at http://www.osha10hourtraining.com . Without the OSHA card, they cannot get on the site. Many general contractors also have the same requirement for minimum OSHA training. So be prepared, do not wait until the last minute or you may be disqualified from getting onto the jobsite.

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