Deal Reached on Historic Stimulus

Daily News Article   —   Posted on February 12, 2009

(by S.A. Miller & David R. Sands, WashingtonTimes.com) – The White House and Democrat-controlled Congress struck a deal Wednesday for a $789 billion stimulus package. …  Top Democrats worked into the night Wednesday behind closed doors to finalize the details, but all the major differences between the House and Senate bills appeared resolved after an interparty dust-up delayed negotiations during the day.

The bill “creates more jobs than the original Senate bill and costs less than the original House bill,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat. “This agreement involved give-and-take, and if you don’t mind my saying so, that’s an understatement.”

A … meeting that included Republican leaders was convened briefly to work on the bill. But after a series of speeches and no negotiations, Democrats adjourned the meeting and retreated to their offices to complete the bill in private.

The final bill could go to a vote in the House as early as [today], then proceed to the Senate as lawmakers rushed to meet a Friday deadline set by President Obama.

Republicans said they were shut out of the process, despite support for the compromise from three Senate Republicans whose votes all but guarantee passage of the final package.

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia said Republicans were “kept in the dark” during final negotiations to reconcile the Senate’s $838 billion bill and the $819 billion House-passed version.

“My question is: What is the majority trying to hide by never allowing any ventilation of ideas, any discussion of what we have brought forward as the Republican vision to stimulate this economy?” he said.

Mr. Obama, who visited a highway construction site in Springfield, Va., early in the day to push for the stimulus bill, argued for passage by citing specifically what he said was a pledge from giant heavy-equipment manufacturer Caterpillar Inc. to rehire at least some of the 20,000 workers the Illinois company recently announced it was laying off.

“Just today, the CEO of Caterpillar said that if this American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan is passed, his company would be able to rehire some of the employees they´ve been forced to lay off,” he said.

Mr. Obama is scheduled to meet with Caterpillar officials in Peoria, Ill., on Thursday to continue boosting popular support for his plan. But despite the president’s assurance, Caterpillar is not offering to make any changes in its staffing if the stimulus plan becomes law, a spokesman said.

“I’m not aware that we’ve promised to do anything,” Caterpillar spokesman Jim Dugan said. “We don’t at this point know what’s in the package.

“If the stimulus package is approved and if those projects are appropriate and thoughtful and can be quickly enacted, and if our orders pick up and we need to bring people back, we will certainly do that,” Mr. Dugan said.

Democratic leaders said the final bill will consist of about $514 billion of spending and $275 billion in tax cuts, including a temporary suspension of the alternative minimum tax that affects a large number of middle-class taxpayers and was a priority for Senate Republicans.

But the compromise also reduced a $15,000 tax credit for homebuyers for which Republicans fought, said House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles B. Rangel, New York Democrat.

The compromise includes Mr. Obama’s signature tax cut for middle- and low-income taxpayers, a central plank of his presidential campaign. It also includes massive amounts of new spending, and aid for those hurt by the recession in the form of jobless benefits, food stamps, health coverage and aid to state and local governments facing declining revenues.

Earlier, a deal announced by Mr. Reid was called into doubt when House Democratic leaders did not show up for the conference committee meeting.

The meeting had to be postponed for about three hours while Democratic leaders ironed out differences over spending in the bill, including $16 billion for school construction that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, desperately wanted added to the final package.

The line item for school construction and renovation was not included, but a general account for aid to states that could go to school projects was boosted from the Senate’s mark of $39 billion to $54 billion.

“We have come to an agreement with the Senate as to how we will go forward and I think people are happy about that,” Mrs. Pelosi said after meeting with the Democratic Caucus.

The deal still must be formally ratified by the House-Senate conference and approved by both chambers.

Three Republican senators who provided the key votes for passage of the Senate bill – Sens. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, and Susan Collins and Olympia J. Snowe, both of Maine – endorsed the tentative compromise, virtually ensuring it will pass the chamber.

No House Republicans voted for the original bill.

“The time has come to bring everybody together,” Mrs. Snowe told reporters.

House Minority Leader John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, said the agreement appeared to fall far short of a bipartisan bill.

“I’ve got to tell you that with everything I’m hearing about this so-called deal, I’m very disappointed,” Mr. Boehner said. “It appears that congressional Democrats have made a bad bill worse by reducing tax relief for working families to pay for more wasteful government spending.”

Copyright 2009 News World Communications, Inc.  Reprinted with permission of the Washington Times.  For educational purposes only.  This reprint does not constitute or imply any endorsement or sponsorship of any product, service, company or organization.  Visit the website at www.washingtontimes.com.  

Questions

1. The Republicans said they were shut out of the discussions to work out a compromise between the House stimulus bill and the Senate stimulus bill. What did House Minority Whip Eric Cantor imply was the Democrats’ reason for denying Republicans access to the debate on the House and Senate bills?

2. a) How did a spokesman for the heavy-equipment manufacturer Caterpillar Inc. contradict President Obama’s announcement that Caterpillar will rehire some of their laid-off employees if the stimulus bill passes?
b) How do you account for the contradiction between the two statements?

3. Compromise – to accept that you will reduce your demands or change your opinion in order to reach an agreement with someone (from dictionary.cambridge.org)
The compromise that Democrats were working on this week was between the House’s stimulus bill and the Senate’s stimulus bill – both written by Democrats. They were not working on a compromise between what Democrats thought should be in the bill and what Republicans thought should be in the bill. Do you think Democrats did the right thing by coming to a compromise among themselves and leaving Republicans entirely out of the debate? Explain your answer.

4. a) Define stimulus.
b) The compromise includes massive amounts of new spending. What type of aid is included in the stimulus bill for Americans hurt by the recession?
c) Opponents of the stimulus bill say that it will not stimulate the economy – that the $800 billion will not create new jobs, but only create temporary government programs, and will therefore not do anything to help the economy. Have you heard this idea in the news? What do you think – will the $800 billion help to stimulate the economy? Explain your answer.

5. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) wanted the stimulus bill to include $16 billion for school construction. Though it was not included in the bill, how will schools probably get this money from the stimulus bill anyway?

6. How did House Minority leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) react to the Democrats’ compromise between the House and Senate bills?

7. The purpose of the stimulus bill, according to President Obama, is to quickly “put Americans back to work.” Read the “Background” below on problems with the stimulus bill. Which facts surprise you most? Explain your answer.


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Background

from nostimulus.com

Conference Report Is Another No-Stimulus Disaster

  • This bill provides the least tax relief of any version yet, even cutting President Obama’s signature middle class tax cut from $500 per individual and $1000 per couple to $400 and $800. That takes money out the pockets of regular Americans to pay for more wasteful spending.
  • This bill, by all accounts, still funds the stealth imposition of health care rationing via so-called “Comparative Evaluation Research,” that would let bureaucrats decides whether people are too old or too sick to receive a treatment.
  • The price tag, is still astonishing. $789 billion might be less than the Senate’s $838 billion, but it’s massively more than the $300 billion this bill originally was proposed at, and still tops a trillion dollars when interest is including. This is money we don’t have being spent on things we can’t afford on every city and state’s pork wish list.
  • President Obama promised the federal government would be more open and transparent, and that all legislation would be available for 5 days of public review. The House voted unanimously to allow a 48-hour public review that now looks unlikely to happen. Can’t we slow down and properly evaluate a measure that will (including interest) cost taxpayers over a trillion dollars?

What’s Wrong with the Stimulus Bill?

The so-called “Stimulus Package” is being sold to taxpayers as an investment in useful infrastructure like roads and bridges. But the facts prove otherwise.

Only 3.6% of the scheme’s $825 billion price tag would actually go to real, practical infrastructure projects–roads and bridges.

Most of the other 96.4% would go to special interest pet projects, and to cramming years’ worth of radical policy changes into the single largest spending and debt scheme in history.

Even the Congressional Budget Office, the official scorekeeper of the economic impact of legislation, has said that it would, on balance, hurt the economy.

Why are our nation’s leaders doing this? Obama White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel was strikingly honest when he said “Never let a serious crisis go to waste…it’s an opportunity to do things you couldn’t do before.” Exactly what fringe policies are big-government politicians attempting to ram through with this colossal bill?

Under the auspices of a “Comparative Effectiveness Review,” the package heavily funds the first steps towards the socialization and government-mandated rationing of health care. And this is just one of many government power grabs being shoehorned into the so-called “Stimulus Package.”

In fact, even by the most charitable estimates, the bill would force taxpayers to foot the bill for at least 600,000 new government bureaucrats. That’s six tenths of a million more people on the government payroll — adding little or no value to our economy and being paid with billions upon billions of your hard-earned tax dollars.

And just what sort of special interest giveaways and wasteful government spending are included in the so-called “Stimulus Package”? To name just a few…

– $4.19 billion in slush funds for ACORN, the left-wing advocacy group best known for allegations of voter fraud during the 2008 presidential campaign
– $600 million to buy brand new cars for government bureaucrats
– $335 million for adult sex workshops (one of the few line items which could conceivably deliver “stimulus” )
– $150 million for honeybee insurance
– $2.8 billion for the US Department of Agriculture in a misdirected program more likely be spent to build unnecessary broadband internet services in urban areas than in the rural areas that lack service.

These are just a few examples of the shameless feeding frenzy taking place in halls of Congress today with this so-called “Stimulus Package.”

This trillion-dollar debt and spending scheme will provide little or no stimulus, but will put each and every American household in at least $6,700 of new debt, to be paid by our children and grandchildren.

Spending Stimulus Can’t Work

1. Every dollar the government spends comes from the private sector.

Nobel Prize winner Milton Friedman famously said: “there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.” Government spending is either financed through higher taxes, higher federal borrowing, or by printing money. Those are the only possibilities. They all create greater economic damage than any stimulus effect of new spending.

● Tax increases lower the incentive to work, save, and invest. There is a strong association between tax increases and reduced economic growth. In an economic crisis, tax hikes should be unthinkable. The Revenue Act of 1932 was one of the major reasons an economic crisis deepened into the Great Depression.

● Government borrowing also takes money out of the private economy-the money that bond purchasers hand over to the government in exchange for the bonds. That money could otherwise be used for business investment that would expand the economy’s productive capacity. If the funds are borrowed from abroad, our exports are lowered because U.S. dollars are being used to buy bonds instead of goods. Borrowed funds also have to be paid back, placing a burden on future taxpayers. Excessive borrowing also may increase interest rates, deepening the credit crisis.

● Inflation may be most damaging financing mechanism of all. If government spends money that it hasn’t taxed or borrowed, then it is literally creating money out of thin air. More dollars being created means that the dollars in our pockets and bank accounts are worth less than they were before. Inflation is a stealth tax that erodes the value of everything and destroys real economic growth.

2. History shows spending stimulus fails.

America experimented with large-scale expansions of government spending in the 1930s with the New Deal and again in the 1960s and 70s with the Great Society. These dramatic expansions of government spending coincided with economic failure. The long-boom that started under Reagan and continued until now with only a couple of brief, mild recessions coincided with a significant decline in federal spending as a percentage of the economy.

3. Infrastructure projects should be judged on their merits, but not as stimulus.

There is a role for government in providing certain public goods that the market cannot efficiently provide. If financing is available at favorable rates it may make sense to take a long-term view and begin projects that are legitimately justified on their merits. We should be under no misconception, however, that public works spending is stimulative, because borrowed dollars are taken out of the private sector.

Resources

For information on projects that might be funded by the economic stimulus bill, go to stimuluswatch.org.

For access to the entire text of the Democrat’s stimulus bill, go to readthestimulus.org.

For a more in-depth article on the stimulus plan, go to wsj.com.

Read the procedure for how a bill becomes a law at bensguide.gpo.gov.

Put the steps in order for how a bill becomes a law here