Stimulus Voting Begins Today

by: Chris Bowers

Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 10:33

Voting on H.R. 1, the American Recovery and Re-Investment Act, otherwise known as the stimulus package, begins today in the House.  Before the bill itself will be voted on, there will be eleven amendments, and lots of debate:

  1. Oberstar (MN): Would amend the aviation, highway, rail, and transit priority consideration and "use-it-or-lose-it" provisions to require that 50 percent of the funds be obligated within 90 days.  (10 minutes)

  2. Markey (MA): Would require that the Secretary require, as a condition of receiving funding under Title XIII of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, that the demonstration projects utilize Internet-based or other open protocols and standards if available and appropriate, and would require that grants recipients utilize Internet-based or other open protocols and standards.  (10 minutes)

  3. Shuster (PA): Would clarify that federal funds received by States under the bill for highway maintenance shall not be used to replace existing funds in place for transportation projects.  (10 minutes)

  4. Nadler (NY)/DeFazio (OR)/Ellison (MN)/McMahon (NY)/Lipinski (IL):  Would increase transit capital funding by $3 billion.  (10 minutes)

  5. Neugebauer (TX): Would strike the appropriations provisions from the bill.(10 minutes)

  6. Waters (CA): Would provide that job training funds may be used for broadband deployment and related activities provided in the bill.  (10 minutes)

  7. Flake (AZ): Would strike funding for Amtrak. (10 minutes)

  8. Kissell (NC): Would expand the Berry Amendment Extension Act to include DHS to require the government to purchase uniforms for more than one hundred thousand uniformed employees from U.S. textile and apparel manufacturers. (10 minutes)

  9. Platts (PA)/Van Hollen (MD): Would insert the text of the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (H.R. 985 in the 110th Congress) regarding protections for federal employees who report waste, fraud, and abuse.  (10 minutes)

  10. Teague (NM): Would require that the website contain links and other information on how to access job information created at or by entities receiving funding under the bill; including links to local employment agencies, state, local, and other public agencies receiving recovery funds, and private firms contracted to perform work funded by the bill. (10 minutes)

  11. Camp (MI)/Cantor (VA): Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute.  Would strike everything after enacting clause and adds income tax rate deductions for bottom two income tax brackets, alternative minimum tax relief, small business deduction, bonus depreciation, small business expensing, expanded carryback of net operating losses, improved home buyer credit, unemployment benefit tax exemption, health insurance premium deduction, repeal of 3 percent withholding requirement for government contractors, extension of unemployment benefits, and a Sense of Congress against tax increases to offset outlays. (60 minutes)

"Our" campaign to increase rail funding is #4.  It is also the only amendment that seems to increase the overall size of the bill by any significant measure.  For now, I am willing to go along with the idea that, while the stimulus isn't as big as is probably needed, we can up infrastructure and social investment through the budget and the other twelve appropriation bills later in the year.

I will be blogging the voting during the day. You can watch the debate, and the amendment votes, online at C-SPAN.

Chris Bowers :: Stimulus Voting Begins Today

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A Greek tragicomedy (0.00 / 0)
It is one irony on top of another.

I don't believe Paulson and company set out to steal on TARP. I think they woke up one morning and the credit markets were in free-fall and it was time to become instant Keynesians. Put out $2 trillion in Federal Reserve cash, allocate $700 billion for TARP and they're off to the races. Of course, idiot Dems and Republicans start whining, the banks blow the dog whistle and before you know it, not a single dollar goes out for "toxic assets" or mortgage relief and it all goes to the banks, who wait a week to see if they are alive and the ones that are immediately go back to stealing.

"Highway robbery", cries the Congress... and everything shifts to Barack Delano Obama. Meanwhile, the Democratic plan is "Stimulus". It is the cheer of the day: S-T-I-M-U-L-U-S. But the basis of that stimulus can't be government jobs ala FDR. That would be too "slow"... and too "old school". So, instead of government jobs there will be government spending for the private sector - infrastructure (I-N-F-R-A-S-T-R-U-C-T-U-R-E). But, even here, not just any infrastructure but only the projects that are ready to go  - "shovel ready" (S-H-O-V-E-L). "That'll work", cry even the "left" Nobels (Stiglitz and Krugman). Perhaps $500 billion of infrastructure spending, each year for two years... why that'll create maybe 2 million jobs. Of course, that is less than what was lost in 2008 alone and it ain't exactly "efficient", but it's "fast", so... for the first time... it's gonna be: "damn the efficiency and full speed ahead". Maybe they can toss another $250 to $500 billion to leverage the States and get them to take on debt and make a few jobs... and, and...

And then the Obama political train pulls into town. "Stimulus", yes, but bipartisanship too... and don't forget the "middle-class tax cuts" and we want 80% of congress to vote for it and, and...

So, now they go to work... and the Tax cuts are a "middle-class tax cut" which amounts to virtually the exact same amount as Bush's "stimulus check" ($187 billion versus $152 billion), and a $100 billion corporate tax cut which won't have any effect at all, and a few hundred billion to the states, but not as "leverage" so much as to make up for state deficits, and a zillion fuckin' projects of which half are much needed relief (but you can't call them "relief" cause that's bad so we call them "stimulus" too), and the other half are not stimulus or relief or "fast", but instead are somebody's bacon. And, by the time we get to "infrastructure", we are really talkin' about only $90 billion. But, magically, this $90 billion (a fifth of what was originally proposed) will NOW create 3 million jobs. And... they know they are lying so they change the words around to read "create or sustain" 3 million jobs... and the whole thing is a fuckin' disaster with everybody callin' everything, "stimulus".

The Republicans are watching this and they know it is the same old Democratic Party racket... but, even if they are right, it is the old monkey and typewriter thing. Even if they are right, they are proven liars and thieves for over two decades so even if they said the sun will rise in the east... "LIARS!". And anyway, they have their own corruption to fry.

And so now, we have proven that everybody knows exactly, positively what to do and not one of them can do it... so it is up to the fates, the stars, and Greek muses to decide if the economy will recover all on its own or whether there is another huge step downwards, and either way there will be tens of millions (perhaps hundreds) on the edge of survival and more than a few will fall off that edge...

And meantime, they could just hire 10 million people tomorrow... deciding later what they would do... and at $70,000 a year, that would only have been $700 billion. But, then everyone would quit their real jobs to take the new phoney-balony ones because they paid a lot more... and then you would have to create more phony jobs and how could you do that without actually producing stuff and then that would compete with the private sector and pretty soon you would end up without one, so...

Better to leave things just as they are.

Depression (non-economic) (4.00 / 1)
While I would not have adopted the gonzo style to express the above, I have to say that its substance is on the money.  

That $275 out of $825 billion is going to tax cuts is so depressing that I don't want to think about it.  And that the best we can expect for our frantic labors is a measly 3 billion for transportation is enough to reduce the most pie-eyed optimist to total despair.

Can anyone recommend a good seratonin uptake inhibitor-or the equivalent?

[ Parent ]
Other amendments (4.00 / 4)

Do you think it would be worth coming up with a unified OL position on some of the other amendments so that we can state our preferences for these in our calls to our reps?

While it might slightly take the focus off the main objective-to push the Nadler amendment-I can't see how it can hurt to, for example, state our opposition to the Flake amendment (#7) at the same time.

Came to post on #7 (0.00 / 0)
It does appear to be at cross purposes with the Nadler amendment.

[ Parent ]
The Economic Stimulus Plan and the Arts. (4.00 / 3)
A very small percentage of Obama's $825 Billion Economic Stimulus Plan is supposed to be spent on the arts, primarily through the administration of the NEA and the NEH. Already there has been protest from the political right against such expenditures - primarily coming from places like the American Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute.

The argument is that this is really "pork" money and does not stimulate the economy. Yet it has been pointed out by the NEA that the very small amount of money ($50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts) when compared to the overall $825 Billion is actually placed more efficiently into the economy and establishes over 6,000 jobs. While the arts organizations that are financed by NEA grants may have only 2 or 10 or 25 employees, there are hundreds of organizations and they add up to the same kind of impact as a large corporation like an airline or a bank.

The inclusion of the arts in Federal economic stimulus action has happened before during FDR's era. For instance, these programs as cited by the Institute for Policy Studies:

The Federal Art Project, along with several other WPA-backed programs, created well over 5,000 jobs for American artists. These artists created over 2,500 murals, over 17,700 sculptures, 108,000 paintings, and 240,000 prints. The project's legacy still lives on, since it supported artists like Jackson Pollock, Arshile Gorky, and many other abstract expressionists whose work helped shift the most dynamic center of the art world to shift from its traditional location in Europe to where it now resides, in the largest cities of the United States.

The Federal Writers' Project created over 6,600 jobs for writers, editors, researchers, and many others who exemplified a given level of literary expertise. Established on July 27, 1935 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Federal Writers' Project (FWP) operated under journalist and theatrical producer Henry Alsberg, and later John D. Newsome, compiling local histories, oral histories, ethnographies, children's books and other works. These writers created over 1,200 books and pamphlets, and they produced some of the first U.S. guides for states, major cities, and roadways. In addition, the FWP was responsible for recording folklore, oral histories, and, most notably, the 2,300 plus first-person accounts of slavery that now exist as a collection in the Library of Congress. As with the Federal Art Project, the FWP's contributions to American literature were both significant and long-lasting, giving authors like Saul Bellow, Zora Neale Hurston, John Steinbeck, Sterling Brown, and many others the opportunity to continue their work in a time of difficult economic circumstances.

These programs not only created jobs, put money into the economy, and improved education and lives in general, they also put the USA into a cultural leadership position in the world which still exists.

If you agree with me on the importance of the minimal funding of arts programming in the stimulus package, then let your Congressional representatives know it. Such funding is too easy to cut.

Under The LobsterScope

For transit nuts (4.00 / 2)
the Transportation & Infrastructure committee is having a hearing now on the future of passenger and freight rail right now.


Good job on this, Chris. (0.00 / 0)
Let's hope they past DeFazio's amendment.

The Rs are making themselves a permanent minority party by their amendment, which will be easily defeated.


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