Thursday, February 5, 2009

Republicans adding CRAP to the ESP

Senate Republicans are delaying passage of the Obama administration's economic stimulus package.  Senators Lindsey Graham and John "I don't know much about the economy" McCain, among others, claim the government is spending too much, and have proposed alternatives more heavy on tax breaks.  Recent Republican proposals, perhaps sensing public support for the ESP, are proposing a somewhat populist "help for homeowners" provision.  Centrist Senators like Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Susan Collins (R-ME) are trying to whittle down spending in the current ESP. (NYT story)  I have written earlier about some silly expenses as well.

One Republican Senator has actually added $69 billion to the House bill - Charles Grassley (R-IA) got an "avoid Alternative Minimum Tax" line into the ESP, and the Obama administration has agreed to this.  But guess what - all these years, the AMT has been "patched" by Congress on an annual basis. [Wiki]
So why not just leave that AMT provision for another day, as has been done all through the Bush presidency?  That automatically brings the cost of the current, one-time ESP down by $69 billion!
UPDATE: Various cuts have been proposed by a bipartisan Senate group led by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Ben Nelson (D-NE) to bring the "cost" of the ESP down by ~$100 billion.  This includes $40 billion in aid to states for fiscal stabilization (which might help avoid laying off of state employees, possibly including teachers), $600 million for NCLB, $2 billion for "Health Information Technology", $1 billion for Head Start/Early Start, and $2 billion for broadband (Internet infrastructure - the roadways of the future).  So if the AMT patch was not included in the cost of the stimulus package, these items could have been retained without increasing the cost beyond $800 billion.
And the worst thing is, Senator Grassley has not announced his support for the current bill either - Collins, Snowe and Specter are the only Republicans to back it.  So - the Democrats should cut the AMT patch out of the ESP, and let these other worthies back in!

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