House passes stimulus compromise

Handing the new administration a big win, the House Friday passed President Barack Obama’s $787 billion plan to resuscitate the economy.

The bill was passed 246-183 with no Republican help. It now goes to the Senate where a vote was possible late Friday to meet a deadline of passing the plan before a recess begins next week.

All but seven Democrats voted for the bill — a 1,071 page, 8-inch-thick measure that combines $281 billion in tax cuts for individuals and businesses with more than a half-trillion dollars in government spending. The money would go for infrastructure, health care and help for cash-starved state governments, among scores of programs. Seniors would get a $250 bonus Social Security check.

Obama claims the plan will save or create 3.5 million jobs, but Republicans said it won’t work because it has too little in tax cuts and spreads too much money around to everyday projects like computer upgrades for federal agencies.

"This legislation falls woefully short," said House GOP Leader John Boehner of Ohio. "With a price tag of more than $1 trillion when you factor in interest, it costs every family almost $10,000 in added debt. This is an act of generational theft that our children and grandchildren will be paying for far into the future."

The final $787 billion measure has been pared back from versions previously debated in order to attract support from three Senate GOP moderates — Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania. Their help is essential to meeting a 60-vote threshold in the Senate. The bill originally passed the Senate by a 61-37 tally, but Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., suffering from brain cancer, is not expected to vote. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, was planning to fly in after a memorial service for his mother to cast the deciding vote.

Democrats lavished praise on the measure, which combines tax cuts for workers and businesses with more than a half-trillion dollars in government spending aimed at boosting economic demand.

"By investing in new jobs, in science and innovation, in energy, in education … we are investing in the American people, which is the best guarantee of the success of our nation," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

The plan is the signature initiative of the fledgling Obama administration, which is betting that combining tax cuts of $400 a year for individuals and $800 for couples with an infusion of spending for unemployment assistance, $250 payments to people on Social Security, and extra money for states to help with the Medicaid health program for the poor and disabled will arrest the economy’s fall.

Local school districts would receive $70 billion in additional funding for K-12 programs and special education and to prevent cutbacks and layoffs and repair crumbling schools. There’s about $50 billion for energy programs, much of which goes to efficiency programs and renewable energy.

Some $46 billion would go to transportation projects, not enough to please many lawmakers.

Negotiators insisted on including a $70 billion tax break to make sure middle- to upper-income taxpayers won’t get hit by the alternative minimum tax and forced a reduction of Obama’s signature tax break for 95 percent of workers.

The AMT was designed 40 years ago to make sure wealthy people pay at least some tax, but is updated for inflation each year to avoid tax increases averaging $2,300 a year. Fixing the annual problems now allows lawmakers to avoid difficult battles down the road, but economists say the move won’t do much to lift the economy.

Republicans pointed out a bevy of questionable spending items that made the final cut in House-Senate negotiations, including money to replace computers at federal agencies, inspect canals, and issue coupons for convertor boxes to help people watch TV when the changeover to digital signals occurs this summer.

"This measure is not bipartisan. It contains much that is not stimulative," said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., Obama’s rival for the White House. "And is nothing short — nothing short — of generational theft" since it burdens future generations with so much debt, he added.

5 Responses to "House passes stimulus compromise"

  1. John1172002  February 13, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    “This measure is not bipartisan. It contains much that is not stimulative,” said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

    Damn straight, McCain, that it is not bipartisan. Because the Republicans have become the party of “No millionaire left behind.” “Much that is not stimulative” because it doesn’t give your cronies billions, like the Bush stimulus bill did. “Trickle down” economics hasn’t worked since Ronald Regan, so let’s give it another try. R-i-i-i-ght.

    Why don’t you try “trickle-UP” economics? That’s where the money goes eventually, anyway.

    Tough as this bill is to swallow, I hate to think how much worse it would have been if you had gotten elected. You, the warmonger, and Palin, who thought Africa was a country. She who needed to go back to grade school.

    John1172002

  2. AustinRanter  February 13, 2009 at 11:14 pm

    Trickle-down didn’t work in Reagan days. That’s why he had the largest deficit in U.S. history…along with increasing the national debt to an all time high (up to the end of this last term).

    People loved Reagan for his ability to say smooth, poetic, and believable lies. He was a master at sounding as though his wisdom and knowledge about the human condition and it’s plite to struggle against the evil government was nothing short of brilliant.

    There is no such thing as a good Repubican or Democrat in Washington. I don’t care who they are. I don’t care who one quotes and who makes claims of greatness.

    There has been instilled in the minds of all Americans for as long as the history books that political figures and government are like supernatural entities.

    Our politicians, long ago, turn themselves into demi-gods…and demanding admirations and praise. They revere themselves to be like rock stars among the little people. And they been treated as such by a wanting, helpless, grateful people.

    We are perpetual victims of the greatest scammers known to humankind.

    The Constitution doesn’t give these folks in politics or government the right to oppress, suppress, and rob us blind and demand that we labor harder and longer to feed their egos and pocket books.

    Ever hear of battered wife syndrome? If you don’t understand the dynamics of how it works…check it out. Then you’ll realize that this nation is now experiencing the battered electorates syndrome.

  3. AustinRanter  February 13, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    In regards to the Stimulus package.

    This whole stimulus debacle reminds me of bereaved family members talking to a funeral director who is saying:

    “I know that you really want your loved one to receive the best christian burial possible. It’s imperative that the casket is of the highest quality.

    I know that you want the body protected from natures wrath so a stainless steel vault is the only way to do that.

    I know that you want the last memories of your loved one to be a coronation that will be remembered as long as you, your family, and friends live so I just know that you want the finest array of flowers, a 6 limo caravan to the grave site.

    I know that you said that you could only afford $5,000 for the funeral, but we have a finance plan that will easily allow to pay for all that I’ve mentioned, which is only $23,500 and you won’t hardly notice the payments.

    Thank you so much for coming in. Oh, we won’t be sending you your first bill for 90 days and interest free for that time. That is quite a bonus, don’t you think?”

    When will “We the People” finally stand up and say, “NO!”? Well, history tells me — never.

  4. frank verismo  February 13, 2009 at 10:03 pm

    “This is an act of generational theft that our children and grandchildren will be paying for far into the future.”

    Boehner is, of course, correct.

    He is also the last person who should be making such assertions, being one of those who presided over some of the most grotesque government expansion and future debt creation America has ever seen.

    I offer all concerned nought save my undiluted scorn.

  5. woody188  February 14, 2009 at 11:41 am

    Now I get to explain to my 2-year old how he owes more than what a car is worth in debt and he doesn’t even get a lollipop to show for it but boy is he surrounded by suckers.

    I move Congress, Wall Street, and corporate business gets to pay for this package and retro-actively TARP since both have not been popular with US Citizens and Congress saddled us with the debt against our wishes.

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