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Archive for the ‘Stimulus Bill’ Category

Obama: Stimulus a ‘major milestone to recovery’

RAW STORY
Published: Saturday February 14, 2009

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US President Barack Obama early Saturday hailed a 787-billion-dollar economic stimulus plan passed by Congress, calling it “a major milestone on our road to recovery.”

“This is a major milestone on our road to recovery, and I want to thank the members of Congress who came together in common purpose to make it happen,” Obama said in his weekly radio address.

He promised to sign the package into law “shortly.”

The comments came after the US Congress late Friday approved a 787-billion-dollar package of tax cuts and fresh spending to salvage the broken US economy, handing the president his biggest yet political victory.

The Senate voted 60-38 to pass the measure hours after it cleared the House of Representatives by a lopsided 246-183 margin, setting the stage for Obama to sign the measure into law before his self-imposed February 16 deadline.

Obama expressed confidence that the plan “will save or create more than 3.5 million jobs over the next two years, ignite spending by business and consumers alike, and lay a new foundation for our lasting economic growth and prosperity.”

The legislation, a product of hard-fought negotiations this week, allocates 120 billion dollars to infrastructure spending, including monies for highways, trains and expanding broadband Internet access.

It also features nearly 20 billion dollars for renewable energy and 11 billion to modernize the US electrical grid — steps former vice president Al Gore warmly endorsed weeks ago as a major downpayment on Obama’s strategy for fighting climate change.

The bill includes tax cuts — expected to benefit 95 percent of US families — and tens of billions of dollars for extending unemployment benefits, bolstering healthcare for the least well-off and funds to help cash-strapped states avoid cuts in services like education.

MORE HERE

The following video was posted to WhiteHouse.gov on Feb. 14, 2009.

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The Big Winners In Stimulus Compromise: The Upper-Middle Class

Huffington Post- Thomas B. Edsall

February 11, 2009 07:19 PM

When President Obama outlined on January 8 the rationale for the economic stimulus bill, “The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act,” he clearly identified the men and women most in trouble:

Nearly two million jobs have now been lost, and on Friday we are likely to learn that we lost more jobs last year than at any time since World War II. Just in the past year, another 2.8 million Americans who want and need full-time work have had to settle for part-time jobs.

The House-Senate compromise, however, cuts funds for extended health care coverage for the unemployed; cuts $30 billion in aid to state governments to prevent reductions in social services to the poor and out-of-work; and also cuts a special “Making Work Pay” tax holiday from $500 to $400 for an individual, and from $1,000 to $800 for a couple, for low-to-middle-income workers still hanging on to their jobs

Amid all the cutting, however, one group emerged unscathed: the upper-middle class, the not-quite-super-rich, but certainly not on the ropes. Most of these folks, in terms of income and employment, are what could be called the un-needy, a group clearly distinct from those Obama identified as the core target of the legislation. The “compromise” legislation includes $70 billion, or just under 10 percent of the whole package, to be used expressly to take care of these affluent people.

In fact, these lucky men and women make so much money that they fall into the ever-expanding grasp of the alternative minimum tax (AMT). The AMT was originally designed in 1969 to prevent the nation’s millionaires and billionaires from using tax loopholes to pay zero income tax. That year, 155 very wealthy taxpayers paid no federal tax whatsoever. This year, if the law remains as it is currently crafted, the AMT would, through bracket creep, apply to as many as 25 million taxpayers, including those making in the $85,000 to $250,000 range, depending on how many deductions they claim (the more deductions, the more likely the AMT comes into play).

There is a strong case to be made that the AMT was never intended to apply to people in these income categories – for example two public school teachers married to each other — and Congress in recent years has repeatedly passed temporary one-year “patches” postponing the downward reach of the tax provision.

MORE HERE

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Economists Agree Time Is of the Essence for Stimulus

Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, February 8, 2009; Page A01

With Congress moving closer to adopting a $820 billion stimulus package and the Obama administration poised to unveil a new bank bailout plan, economists say that the federal government is taking its biggest role in the economy in a generation.

States that once aspired to blaze trails independent from Washington are turning to it for money, banks and businesses that once decried regulation now are seeking federal capital, grants or tax cuts and individuals are looking for tax relief.

“This is a seismic shift in the role of government in our society,” said Allen Sinai, chief global economist for Decision Economics. “Those who believe the government can be an effective, positive instrument for good will have another chance to try it,” said Sinai, a political independent.

While economists remain divided on the role of government generally, an overwhelming number from both parties are saying that a government stimulus package — even a flawed one — is urgently needed to help prevent a steeper slide in the economy.

Many economists say the precise size and shape of the package developing in Congress matter less than the timing, and that any delay is damaging.

MORE HERE

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Obama Stimulus Speech: “Time For Action Is Now” (VIDEO)

Huffington Post |  Nicholas Sabloff   |   February 5, 2009 12:27 PM

From the AP:

President Barack Obama says the time for talk on an economic recovery package is over and “the time for action is now.”
Speaking at the Energy Department, Obama made a fresh plea for the stimulus plan that the Senate is debating. He cited the latest bad economic news of jobless claims as another reason for quick action.

He said: “The time for talk is over, the time for action is now.”

He also launched a shot at critics while talking about energy, questioning, “are these folks serious?”

Now, I read the other day that critics of this plan ridiculed our notion that we should use part of the money to modernize the entire fleet of federal vehicles to take advantage of state of the art fuel efficiency. This is what they call pork. You know the truth. It will not only save the government significant money over time, it will not only create manufacturing jobs for folks who are making these cars, it will set a standard for private industry to match. And so when you hear these attacks deriding something of such obvious importance as this, you have to ask yourself — are these folks serious? Is it any wonder that we haven’t had a real energy policy in this country?

For the last few years, I’ve talked about these issues with Americans from one end of this country to another. And Washington may not be ready to get serious about energy independence, but I am. And so are you. And so are the American people.

During his speech Obama also issued a strong critique of the GOP’s economic policies, even though he didn’t utter the party’s name. He told the audience that:

In the last few days, we’ve seen proposals arise from some in Congress that you may not have read but you’d be very familiar with because you’ve been hearing them for the last 10 years, maybe longer. They’re rooted in the idea that tax cuts alone can solve all our problems; that government doesn’t have a role to play; that half-measures and tinkering are somehow enough; that we can afford to ignore our most fundamental economic challenges — the crushing cost of health care, the inadequate state of so many of our schools, our dangerous dependence on foreign oil.
So let me be clear: Those ideas have been tested, and they have failed. They’ve taken us from surpluses to an annual deficit of over a trillion dollars, and they’ve brought our economy to a halt. And that’s precisely what the election we just had was all about. The American people have rendered their judgment. And now is the time to move forward, not back. Now is the time for action.

VIDEO AND TRANSCRIPT HERE

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There’s a killer web graphic that was created back in the post-Republican Convention days while everyone was writing spasmodic, breathless “Obama should [fill in the blank]” blog entries and “Oh crap! We’re gonna lose!” newspaper columns. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, really. The Obama campaign slipped in the polls during Sarah Palin’s very brief golden age — an era of roughly two weeks following the Alaska governor’s successful recitation of a convention speech without, you know, choking on her own vomit.

Very few of us were confident of an Obama victory at the time. After all, previous Democratic nominees had been riding bullet trains to victory in the polls, only to gradually and utterly bonk as the summer segued into autumn. Even candidate Obama was warning us about the Democratic habit of “snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.” Yeah. Anyone who claims to have been absolutely 100 confident of a Barack Obama victory in the first week of September 2008 is either lying or lying.

However, some people were more confident (hopeful, perhaps) than others.

The web graphic is actually a photograph of Barack Obama from his Invesco Field acceptance speech. In it, he’s looking directly into the camera with an expression of fierce determination on his face — his teeth gnashed in an Eastwood snarl, his left hand gesturing as though he’s kung fu fighting his way through an oversized cinderblock made of SlapChop-minced Republican skulls.

The large, white text superimposed at the top reads: “Everyone chill the fuck out.” The text at the bottom exclaims: “I got this!”

Sure enough, two months later, we watched as this liberal African American man with the noble yet politically unusual name “Barack Hussein Obama” defied the odds and won red states like Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Indiana and the commonwealth of Virginia.

Fade out the roaring crowds at Grant Park. Dissolve to late January.

The economy continues to creep nearer to the crumbling ledge of yet another Depression — if it isn’t there already. And yet the Republicans who very nearly shoved us over the ledge are prancing around as if their collective Reaganomics don’t stink.

(more…)

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Stimulus Package Passes With Zero Republican Support

Huffington Post- Ryan Grim

January 28, 2009 07:22 PM

A nearly $820 billion stimulus package passed the House of Representatives Wednesday without a single Republican vote. The bill now moves to the Senate, where it stands a better chance of picking up at least a modicum of bipartisan support.

Approval of the bill is a victory for President Barack Obama and comes only eight days after his inauguration — the swiftest passage of such a massive package in American history. The vote was 244-188, with 11 Democrats crossing party lines and opposing the measure.

Obama ventured to Capitol Hill on Tuesday and met separately with House and Senate Republicans in hopes of garnering their support. He invited roughly a dozen GOP moderates to the White House Tuesday evening for an extended discussion — and cookies and soda — with chief of staff Rahm Emanuel. And before Wednesday’s vote, six House Republicans, five Senate Republicans and an equal number of Democrats gathered for a White House meeting.

Obama also persuaded House Democrats to remove provisions related to family-planning from the stimulus and — over the objections of many Democrats — inserted large tax cuts for businesses that Republicans wanted.

None of it was enough.

MORE HERE

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by Geezer Power


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Thom Hartmann talks to Larry Beinhart on Air America Radio about why you should be screaming for higher taxes on the wealthy. Bienhart, famous for his book Wag The Dog, regularly blogs on Huffington Post.

AlterNet

By Larry Beinhart, Posted January 12, 2009.

Why are we so resistant to raising taxes? It’s our nature. Nobody likes to give up their own money for the common good.

US economic growth has been strongest when our taxes have been high. During World War II, then under Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy, our upper marginal tax rates were between 88-92%. Read those numbers again. They are astonishingly high. Those were our strongest growth years.

More

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Leaders of a New York campaign to help the jobless in 1932. The unemployment rate is expected to peak at 8 or 9 percent.

Some Forecasters See a Fast Economic Recovery

Published: January 2, 2009

Economics as the dismal science? Not in some quarters.

In the midst of the deepest recession in the experience of most Americans, many professional forecasters are optimistically heading into the new year declaring that the worst may soon be over.

For this rosy picture to play out, they are counting on the Obama administration and Congress to come through with a substantial stimulus package, at least $675 billion over two years.

They say that will get the economy moving again in the face of persistently weak spending by consumers and businesses, not to mention banks that are reluctant to extend credit.

If the dominoes fall the right way, the economy should bottom out and start growing again in small steps by July, according to the December survey of 50 professional forecasters by Blue Chip Economic Indicators. Investors seemed to be in a similarly optimistic mood on Friday, bidding up stocks by about 3 percent.

MORE HERE

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Obama team, Congress fleshing out stimulus bill


Dec 19, 7:56 PM EST

WASHINGTON (AP) — President-elect Barack Obama’s team and congressional staff are scrambling to come up with details of a plan to pump up the droopy economy with $650 billion or more in government spending over the next few years.

The aides met in the basement of the Capitol on Friday to devise ways to pump public money into science, energy, education, health care and infrastructure programs, as well as to help the poor and unemployed.

They hope unleashing a torrent of spending in the near term will create jobs and lift the economy.

But the amounts of money under consideration are so enormous – larger than either the Pentagon’s annual budget or the entire domestic budget passed each year by Congress – that it’s likely to prove challenging to spend so much without wasting taxpayer dollars.

Obama and his Democratic allies in Congress want to enact the still-emerging plan as soon as possible after he takes office on Jan. 20. They hope to agree on an outline by Christmas, said a House Democratic leadership aide, who requested anonymity to discuss the ongoing talks.

The plan, which some Obama aides think could swell to about $850 billion after negotiations with Congress, would be the largest investment in public infrastructure since the federal highway system was established in the 1950s. It also would provide tens of billions in dollars of aid to financially strapped states.

MORE HERE

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