Saturday, January 24, 2009

Throw Some Meat At The GOP

If President Obama wants to see his $850 billion stimulus package approved by 80% of Congress, perhaps he should throw dissident Republicans and conservative Democrats a morsel of meat to nibble.

That would be House Republican leader John Boehner's call for deeper tax cuts. Boehner proposes lower federal income tax rates in the two lowest brackets rather than provide a $500 per worker tax credit, as Obama wants to do. The Republican plan would also give tax breaks to small businesses, home buyers and the unemployed. The difference between the two plans is marginal when billions of dollars are at risk.

Unless the Democrats' initial plan is changed, seniors surviving on Social Security and those with incomes too low to pay income tax would receive federal rebate checks. That's nice but it was proven in the last dole out it didn't improve consumer buying power.

The point is, somewhere in this process, Republicans must be given something to chew. We know Obama told his critics "I won" but that doesn't mean all their proposals are dead on arrival.

Boehner doesn't help his own cause when he carps the stimulus package will spend millions buying contraceptives. Republicans playing to their base fail consistently on the national playing field.

In his first video Saturday address, Obama made the case that the package would help students go to college, protect workers from losing health care, lower energy bills and modernize schools, roads and utilities. About two-thirds of the $825 billion is reserved for spending over the next decade and the rest for tax breaks.

The White House also envisions using loan guarantees and other financial support to leverage $100 billion in private sector investment in so-called clean energy projects over three years.

The plan would lay 3,000 miles of new or upgraded transmission wires for a new electric grid.The plan would help 8.5 million Americans keep health care coverage by providing workers who lose insurance with tax credits to pay for continuing coverage under the federal law known as Cobra, and by expanding Medicaid coverage for low-income Americans who lack access to Cobra. The Medicaid formula would be adjusted to protect 20 million Americans whose coverage might be in jeopardy because of state budget shortfalls.

The plan would modernize 10,000 schools, improve security at 90 ports and build 1,300 wastewater projects. It would bolster Pell Grants to help 7 million students and offer a new tax credit for 4 million college students. And it would increase food stamp benefits for 30 million Americans and increase Social Security benefits by $450 for 7.5 million disabled and elderly people.

Republicans oppose the cost of the plan since it will be passed on to future generations to pay for.

Boehner said “All told, the plan would spend a whopping $275,000 in taxpayer dollars for every new job it aims to create." Excuse me? Yesterday Republicans said each job created would cost $223,000.

In his speech, Obama said he knew that some worried about the size of his plan. “I understand that skepticism, which is why this recovery plan must and will include unprecedented measures that will allow the American people to hold my administration accountable for these results,” he said. “We won’t just throw money at our problems; we’ll invest in what works.”

Both sides are guilty of playing the numbers game.

At this stage, the critical thing is getting it done now and down right. Lots a luck, guys.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I hope that Obama, his economic team, and Congress can work together to get a sensible stimulus package passed quickly.

I recently saw articles on a few newspaper websites talking about how Obama was working with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to make sure that the stimulus package was smart and effective at fixing the economic problems, now and into the future. I take that as a very positive sign, since Democrats haven't always worked closely with the business community. Hopefully that will help appease some of the Republican opposition. In other words, maybe that can be some of the meat to give them.

The main points of their discussions have been making sure that the stimulus package includes tax relief, infrastructure funding, housing industry tax credits to assist homeowners, and reducing borrower & lending fees through the Small Business Administration. Of course, there are other items that need to be in the stimulus package, but I agree with all four of those ideas.

I noticed that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is asking for input from the public to let them know which of those proposals they support the most. The Chamber can then use that data in their discussions with Obama and members of Congress. Make sure to vote in their poll here -