Before the U.S. Senate votes on a recovery package for the U.S.
economy, many are rushing to decipher if the package delivers the right
By Jon Dell and Jeremiah McDaniel.
At nearly $900 billion, the American Recovery and
Reinvestment Act of 2009 is being pushed by the Obama administration, fueled
by an urgency to turn our country's economic state around.
Many believe that the core problems we face are unemployment
and a lack of consumer spending. Foreclosures also top the list of detractors
from our economic wellbeing.
Some direct consumer benefits have been added to the
stimulus package. Consumers may be able to write of the sales tax and interest
paid on a vehicle they purchase this year, and the Senate agreed to add a home
buying credit of up to $15,000.
As for job creation, no exact numbers exist. Estimates of
1.5 to 3 million additional jobs are tempered by uncertainty in how quickly the
federal agencies who receive stimulus money will go about using it, and in
which ways. Here's a link to an Associated
Press article  that delves into some of the reasons stimulus money might not
filter down as quickly as the government would hope.
Our own congressman Buck McKeon joined his Republican
colleagues in opposing the stimulus bill in the house a few days ago, saying
that it was more about government growth and less about immediate economic
“California’s economy is hurting, much like the rest of the country, because consumer confidence and spending are at record lows,” stated McKeon. “As a result, unemployment rates are at an astounding 9.9% unemployment rate in areas of Los Angeles County. Unfortunately, the economic plan Democrats are pushing through the legislative process will do little to actually stimulate the economy and appears to be nothing more than a monster ‘spending’ bill.”
He continued; “Republicans have offered a common-sense Economic Recovery Plan, which addresses the weakest areas of the economy and saves the $1.1 trillion debt Democrats are trying to stick to American taxpayers. Our local businesses are reaching the breaking point, where employee layoffs are necessary, because of the inaction by Democrats. What we need is job creation and revitalization of the economy, not government expansion.”
But the bill passed anyway, and has now become even heavier
in the Senate. You can read the entire package by clicking here .
However, an effort is underway now by two centrist Senators to try and bring down the cost of the proposed
Senators Ben Nelson, a Democrat from Nebraska
and Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, are trying to trim
between $50 and $200 billion from the current proposed package before the final
vote, which could occur as early as tonight.
two Senators are hoping to cut initiatives like the $1
billion proposed for the National Science
Foundation, $400 million for research and prevention of sexually
transmitted diseases, $850 million for Amtrak and $14 million for cyber security research by the Department
of Homeland Security.
provision that would protect middle-class Americans from paying the alternative
minimum tax added an additional $60 billion to the original total. Other
initiatives like the $15,000 tax break for first time home buyers and tax
breaks for car purchases have added an additional $30 billion to the bill.
order for the bill to pass the Senate, it needs 60 votes. The democrats,
who are pushing for the bill, hold 58 seats.
We've pulled a few items from the stimulus package and have
listed them below. Decide for yourself which items are hits and misses.
member on the panel that oversees the complete stimulus
package will receive travel expenses,
including per diem. The amount given to the panel for travel expenses is $14 million.
Bureau of the Census will receive $1 billion for Periodic Censuses and
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
will receive $400 million for operations, research, and facilities as well as habitat restoration and mitigation activities.
Rural Housing Service will receive $22 billion
for loans to help the Rural Housing Insurance
fund. The funds will provide direct loans
and unsubsidized loans.
Food and Nutrition services special supplemental
nutrition program for woman, infants and children will receive $100 million to
help support infants and new mothers.
The Department of Energy will receive $18.5 million for
energy efficiency and renewable energy.
billion will be used for construction, repair, and alteration of border
facilities and land ports of entry.
billion will be used for construction, repair, and alteration of Federal
buildings for projects that will create the greatest impact on energy efficiency
The Department of Homeland Security will receive $100
million for non-intrusive technology to be used at sea
Transportation Security Administration will
receive $500 million for the purchase and installation of detection systems and
emerging checkpoint technology.
The Bureau of Land Management will receive $325 million
for the construction of roads, bridges and trails or for decommissioning,
critical deferred maintenance projects, facilities construction and renovation,
hazardous fuels reduction, and remediation of abandoned mine or well
The National Park Service will receive $1.7 billion for
projects to address deferred maintenance needs within the National Park System, including roads, bridges and
trails, and for other critical infrastructure projects.
Indian Health Services will receive $550 million
for priority health care facilities construction
projects and deferred maintenance, and the purchase of equipment and related
services, including but not limited to health
Employment and Training Administration will
receive $4 billion for ''Training and Employment Services.''
Depending on how you judge these expenditures, you are
either happy with the bill, incensed, or find it half reasonable, half absurd.
The problem with the latter conclusion is that the bill
can't be "mostly passed." The package
comes as it does; the good with the bad.
Also, remember that this $894 billion dollar package is just
one of several monetary commitments our government has proposed and passed to
keep this economy going. If you add up that package's potential price tag with
the $700 billion bailout of the financial sector, the $25 billion dollar loan
to the auto companies and the $145 billion dollars for the rebate checks issued
last year, the total investment in our country's recovery totals more than $1.7
That number is more than half of the U.S.
With such important decisions at hand, KHTS urges you to make
your opinions heard, be they for or against the stimulus package.
Below you will find email links to our Congressman, U.S.
Senators, and President Barack Obama. We suggest that you write one letter
explaining your feelings towards the stimulus bill and copy/paste it on all of
your elected leaders' email submission forms.
President Obama - http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/ 
Congressman Buck McKeon - http://mckeon.house.gov/contact.shtml 
U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer - http://boxer.senate.gov/contact/email/policy.cfm 
U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein - http://feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=ContactUS.EmailMe