OpenCongress Blog

Blog Feed Comments Feed More RSS Feeds

More on the Stimulus Bill

January 15, 2009 - by Donny Shaw
  • The House Ways and Means Committee released details today about the tax provisions falling under their jurisdiction in the stimulus bill. Tax cuts in the bill total about $275 billion and include Obama’s “Making Work Pay Credit” for the middle class, refundable higher education tax credits, first-time home-buyer credits, renewable energy incentives and a smattering of tax cuts for businesses. The Committee will begin work on this section of the bill next week.

  • OMB Watch looks at the tax provisions from a stimulus perspective (how quickly and effectively they will put money into the economy, where it will be spent), and gives us the good, the bad, and the ugly.

  • Republican Minority Leader John Boehner (OH) reacts to the draft legislation today: “The plan released this morning by congressional Democrats was developed with no Republican input and appears to be grounded in the flawed notion that we can simply borrow and spend our way back to prosperity.” He also points out some items from the bill he finds particularly egregious – “600 million for new cars for the federal government,” “$1 billion “to minimize undercounting of minority groups” in the 2010 census,” etc.

  • At an afternoon press conference, David Obey (D-WI), the House Appropriations chairman who has been a key player in assembling the stimulus bill, tried to lower expectations. “You have to look at this bill not as a salvation for the economy by any means,” he said. “It’s simply the largest effort by any legislative body on the planet to try to take action to prevent economic catastrophe.”

  • In case you haven’t seen an outline of the spending items in the bill, here it is from Open Left.

  • Free Press is pleased that the stimulus includes $6 billion for broadband deployment to rural areas, but they are worried that it will end up being a giveaway to the big telco companies. They want Congress to attach public service conditions to the money. “We urge that these dollars be tied to clear public service principles and concrete administrative accountability,” they write in a letter to David Obey. “Broadband as economic recovery should be ‘build-out,’ not ‘bail-out.’”

  • Congress Daily ($):

>Lawmakers working to spur the adoption of electronic medical records should not rush the process, a key Senate Democrat said today. As she chaired a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on health IT, Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., said that she will work with colleagues and President-elect Obama to craft a sound bill but cautioned against moving too quickly. “I’ve seen where we’ve … thrown a lot of money at stuff, and ended up with a boondoggle,” said Mikulski, who chairs the Senate Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations Subcommittee as well as the HELP Aging Subcommittee. “We can’t afford to waste time on a fool’s journey.” Mikulski predicted an Appropriations Committee markup of the stimulus bill would occur before February, but after the hearing she declined to say whether the Senate version would contain the $20 billion for health IT that House Democrats included in the $825 billion stimulus package they unveiled today.

This strikes me as an important point about stimulus spending in general. In order for the spending to provide a stimulus affect, it needs to get into the economy as quickly as possible. But moving too quickly on some of the stuff in the House’s bill (like adopting electronic medial records) could jeopardize how well it is executed and how effective it is in the long run.

  • And for the sake of putting all this stuff together in one place, here again are links to the bill text released by the House Appropriations Committee today and a summary of the bill (both .pdfs).

Anything to add?

Like this post? Stay in touch by following us on Twitter, joining us on Facebook, or by Subscribing with RSS.