(by Susan Jones, CNSNews.com) – In a blow to President Barack Obama who went to Capitol Hill seeking Republican support, not a single Republican voted for the Democrats’ economic stimulus plan on Wednesday.
The … American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 passed the House Wednesday by a vote of 244 to 188. Eleven Democrats also voted against it.
Republicans say tax relief would work faster in getting money to businesses and working families. But on Wednesday, an alternative Republican proposal, heavy on tax cuts, was defeated 266-170.
Republicans have been vocal in their opposition to the huge spending plan, saying it won’t stimulate anything except the Democrat Party and more debt. The plan’s price tag is estimated in the $819-billion to $1-trillion range.
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) listed four reasons why he voted against it:
— $80 billion for refundable tax-credits to individuals, even if they pay no taxes.
— $1 billion for the 2010 census
— $650 million for digital TV coupons
— $600 million for new [eco-friendly] cars for the federal government
Rep. Mike Pence called it a partisan bill – “a wish list of longstanding liberal Democrat priorities that have little do with putting our economy back on its feet.”
“What does $50 million to the National Endowment for the Arts have to do with creating jobs?” Pence asked. “What is $400 million for climate change research going to do to put people back to work in Indiana? And what is $335 million for sexually transmitted disease education going to do to get this country working again?
“House Republicans will oppose this bill for one reason-it won’t work,” Pence said.
House Republican Leader John Boehner (Ohio) defended the “bipartisan rejection of a partisan bill.”
Boehner said House Republicans want to work with congressional Democrats on bipartisan legislation [that] creates jobs: “Unfortunately, the trillion dollar government spending bill before the House today was not that plan,” he said. “It is time for Capitol Hill Democrats to finally work with Republicans on a job creation package that lets families and small businesses keep more of what they earn and that is supported by the bipartisan majority that the American people expect on an issue so important.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called passage of the Democrats’ spending bill “a victory for the American people.” She praised Democrats for heeding Obama’s call to take “bold and swift” action, and she insisted the bill as written will “create and save” 3 to 4 million jobs – “all with strict accountability and fiscal responsibility.”
In a statement after the vote, President Obama didn’t mention the lack of Republican support.
“I am grateful to the House of Representatives for moving the American Recovery and Reinvestment plan forward today,” Obama said. “I hope that we can continue to strengthen this plan before it gets to my desk,” he added. “But what we can’t do is drag our feet or allow the same partisan differences to get in our way. We must move swiftly and boldly to put Americans back to work, and that is exactly what this plan begins to do.”
Before the House passed the bill, Speaker Pelosi and other Democrats held a news conference that included several “special guests” — ordinary Americans who presumably would be helped by the stimulus package.
While most of the Democrats at the press conference mentioned the bill’s job-creating provisions, Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), the Majority Whip, said the “recovery package is crafted to help working Americans make their ends meet.”
The bill now goes to the Senate, where debate could begin as early as Monday on a companion measure that is described as more bipartisan – and more expensive, according to the Associated Press.
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1. What was the outcome of the House vote on the Democrats’ $800 billion stimulus bill (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009)?
2. Why did Republican Rep. Michael McCaul vote against the stimulus bill?
3. Why did Republican Rep. Mike Pence oppose the Democrats’ bill?
4. What type of bill did House Republican Leader John Boehner say would best help stimulate the economy?
5. How did Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi react to the passage of the stimulus bill?
6. a) What is the purpose of the stimulus bill, according to President Obama?
b) What is the purpose of the stimulus bill, according to Democrat Rep. James Clyburn?
7. a) Define stimulus.
b) Re-read some of the items in the stimulus bill that Republicans oppose (from paragraphs 5 and 7). Do you think that the items included in the bill that Republicans oppose will help to stimulate the economy? Explain your answer.
8. Challenge question: Read a commentary on the stimulus plan by economist Thomas Sowell. Do you agree or disagree with Dr. Sowell’s assertions? Explain your answer. (Read the commentary at humanevents.com.)
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