Friday, February 6, 2009

So I Really Thought We'd Turned a Corner...

I honestly did. I thought, after all these years, this nation may live up to the promise that people have claimed that it has had for years. Then this Stimulus Package starts to poke its head up. I'm neither a fan of government bailouts (despite the accusations that I am a Socialist), nor am I a fan of hyper-partisan behavior (despite the accusations that I am a cowardly Democrat). I feel that a major corporation, i.e. a bank, which had a somewhat major hand in creating the financial quagmire that we currently reside in WORLDWIDE, does not deserve a hand up from our tax coffers. Yet, that ship had sailed long before this, in the crisis of the autumn of 2008, so let us not re-visit an argument that has a precedent in place against our stance.

Instead, I would like to discuss the new American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The original plan entailed a $825 billion dollar package, some of the highlights:


$32 billionFunding for "smart electricity grid" to reduce waste
$20 billion +Renewable energy tax cuts and a tax credit for research and development on energy-related work, and a multiyear extension of renewable energy production tax credit
$6 billionFunding to weatherize modest-income homes

Science and Technology
$10 billionScience facilities
$6 billionHigh-speed Internet access for rural and underserved areas

$32 billionTransportation projects
$31 billionConstruction and repair of federal buildings and other public infrastructure
$19 billionWater projects
$10 billionRail and mass transit projects

$41 billionGrants to local school districts
$79 billionState fiscal relief to prevent cuts in state aid
$21 billionSchool modernization

Health Care
$39 billionSubsidies to health insurance for unemployed; providing coverage through Medicaid
$90 billionHelp to states with Medicaid
$20 billionModernization of health-information technology systems
$4 billionPreventative care



  • $500 per worker, $1,000 per couple tax cut for two years, costing about $140 billion
  • Greater access to the $1,000-per-child tax credit for the working poor
  • Expansion of the earned-income tax credit to include families with three children
  • A $2,500 college tuition tax credit
  • Repeal of a requirement that a $7,500 first-time homebuyer tax credit be paid back over time


  • An infusion of cash into money-losing companies by allowing them to claim tax credits on past profits dating back five years instead of two
  • Bonus depreciation for businesses investing in new plants and equipment
  • Doubling of the amount small businesses can write off for capital investments and new equipment purchases
  • Allowing businesses to claim a tax credit for hiring disconnected youth and veterans
Source: Associated Press

Virtually immediately after this package was introduced, the American Public was bombarded with reports of pork-barrel spending and spending earmarks (remember those hot-button topics Democrats won with?). These accusations made the rounds on right-wing radio and television faster than a gravy boat at Rush Limbaugh's house. So, I curiously sought out these obvious miscarriages of the public trust labeled as the "pork", the results? All of the same, tired excuses that Limbaugh and Hannity love to toss around, food stamps, global warming, socialism, etc. etc.

So naturally, since right-wing talk radio and Fox News are such rational and fact-obsessed paragons of public service, some members of the House and Senate decided that their always well-researched and unbiased opinions must be correct and either voted against the bill or pushed to cut out the "pork". The pervasive idea in the Republican brain-trust seems to be that the key to bringing the U.S.'s economy back from the brink of deflation and depression is....

wait for it, it should sound familiar....

TAX CUTS!!!! Because who can spend money smarter and better than rich people? Therefore, make them richer! Isn't this the theory of the last ten years? Free up money for the wealthy and it will make the entire system better? Ridiculous tripe, while cutting corporate taxes the same cabal made it easier to store profits in tax-free offshore shelters. Why are we listening to this drivel when it was this group of geniuses who got the situation to the point it is at now? They were too busy playing the fear card for anyone but the diligent to notice that no one was driving the ship. Now that the ship has run aground, the same group is telling us it is our fault and the fault of the people who were just elected. Ladies and Gentlemen, I call Bullshit.

This brings us to today's compromise in the Senate. The only thing compromised during this process was my faith that these people have our country's best interests at heart.

Details of today's comprimise as they stand now from The Huffington Post at 9:44pm February 6th :

The actual price tag on the Senate stimulus package will be north of $800 billion. The deal reached today will be passed as an amendment to the original bill and is roughly $780 billion. But the three amendments that have already passed this week will still be part of the law. One, a housing credit of $15,000 per buyer, is estimated to cost $19 billion. Another, a tax credit for folks who buy energy efficient cars, comes in at around $11 billion. A third, giving $6.5 billion more to the National Institutes of Health, would also be included in the total cost, which takes it to roughly $817 billion, close to the amount of the package passed by the House.

Republicans have been arguing tonight that the higher price tag means that there is, in fact, no deal -- since the deal is for the $780 billion. Democratic senators and Sens. Arlen Specter and Susan Collins said, however, that there is a deal and that the amendments will be worked out in the negotiations between the Senate and House. The NIH piece may have the best chance of survival because it was sponsored by Specter, whose vote will be needed again to pass whatever emerges from House-Senate negotiations. The assumption among Democrats, said aides, is that those amendments will be stripped out during the conference negotiations, because the crux of the compromise deal is the $780 billion package.

Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) named a third Republican who backs the package, thanking Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine for her "very, very strong support for this measure." Snowe's support means that Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) is not needed to reach the crucial mark of 60, though he may still appear.

Well, I'm tired and frustrated, thanks Congress!

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