While usually a “conference committee” between the House and the Senate on a spending bill irons out differences btween the two chambers on the measure; nothing has been usual about the “emergency relief” or stimulus bill so it may follow that the rules and norms of the confernce will not be norms at all.
The Senate cut out some favorite spending programs of the House — primarily tens of billions of dollars in aid to states and local governments, tax provisions, and education, health and renewable energy programs.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has already vowed to put the money back in — and Republican Senator Susan Collins, who supported the senate version of the stimulus says she has “no obligation to support the bill that come out of the conference committee.”
The competing bills now reflect substantially different approaches. The House puts greater emphasis on helping states and localities avoid wide-scale cuts in services and layoffs of public employees. The Senate cut $40 billion of that aid from its bill, which is expected to be approved Tuesday.
The Senate plan also focuses somewhat more heavily on tax cuts, provides far less generous health care subsidies for the unemployed and lowers a proposed increase in food stamps.
Pelosi and many in the House don’t like those tax cuts and are expected to work to restore items like the health care and food stamp money.
The Senate plan also creates new tax incentives to encourage Americans to buy homes and cars within the next year.
Pelosi called the emerging Senate cuts to the stimulus program “very damaging” and said she was “very much opposed to them.”
In the Senate there are several Republicans waving a Congressional Budget Report that says in the long term the stimulus will slow investment and add to the debt.
“If you knew a bill in the U.S. Senate would cause a recession in 10 years, would you support it?” asked Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Arizona. “That’s what the Congressional Budget Office, the bipartisan office that supports our efforts in the Congress, says about this legislation. … There will be negative [gross domestic product] in this decade as a result of this legislation.”
And there are those like John McCain and Lindsey Graham wondering why there is no defense sepending in the bill.
In a Washington Post Op-Ed Sunday, Tom Donnelly and Gary Schmitt of the American Enterprise Institute advocate defense spending in the stimulus saying:
“During the transition, the Obama team advanced three principles about stimulus spending: It should be timely (putting dollars into economic circulation rapidly), targeted (of clear value to the nation) and temporary (not a new and permanent entitlement or long-term program that would make the government’s finances even more problematic).
Defense programs more than meet these criteria, as many mainstream economists have pointed out. Compared with infrastructure programs that require lengthy planning, design and approval processes, extending efficient, already running defense procurements would have brief, as the military says, “flash-to-bang” times. And a dollar invested in such programs would not only circulate rapidly but would also have a multiplying effect, sustaining jobs not only among prime contractors but also among their suppliers.”
Plus the pressure will not subside on the lawmakers: from the White House, voters, talking heads, news media and even bloggers.
John E. Carey
Wakefield Chapel, Virginia
Whatever its flaws, the stimulus package could create or save as many as 4 million jobs by the end of next year, helping to offset the 3.6 million jobs lost since the nation slid into recession in December 2007, according to an analysis by Allen Sinai, chief global economist for Decision Economics.
“This is a seismic shift in the role of government in our society,” said Sinai. “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.
Pelosi responds on bipartisanship
The L.A. Times on the Stimulus:
In Defense of Defense in the Stimulus
Tom Donnelly and Gary Schmitt
Economists on the Stimulus: The Washington Post
Oliver North: Stimulate Defense
This Stimulus Probably Won’t Create Jobs; But Will Make For More Debt
Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman, from left, Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson, and Republican Sens. Arlen Specter and Susan Collins arrive to talk to reporters about a deal being arranged on the economic stimulus bill. The compromise, negotiated behind the scenes, would slice some $110 billion from the bill, which had grown to $930 billion as amended on the Senate floor. Photo: Brendan Smialowski, Getty Images