Tuesday, February 10, 2009

37 Senate Republicans Stand Strong Against Stimulus

Feb 10: Despite the fact that the President, Senate Democrats, business groups, environmental groups and government groups strongly support the stimulus package that passed the Senate today [See WIMS 2/9/09], 37 Republican Senators continue their strong opposition. In his first, prime time press conference, President Obama announced his support for the stimulus package that now must be finalized in a House-Senate Conference Committee.

In his press conference, President Obama said, "It is absolutely true that we cannot depend on government alone to create jobs or economic growth. That is and must be the role of the private sector. But at this particular moment, with the private sector so weakened by this recession, the federal government is the only entity left with the resources to jolt our economy back to life. It is only government that can break the vicious cycle where lost jobs lead to people spending less money which leads to even more layoffs. And breaking that cycle is exactly what the plan that’s moving through Congress is designed to do. . .

"But as we learned very clearly and conclusively over the last eight years, tax cuts alone cannot solve all our economic problems – especially tax cuts that are targeted to the wealthiest few Americans. We have tried that strategy time and time again, and it has only helped lead us to the crisis we face right now. That is why we have come together around a plan that combines hundreds of billions in tax cuts for the middle-class with direct investments in areas like health care, energy, education, and infrastructure – investments that will save jobs, create new jobs and new businesses, and help our economy grow again – now and in the future."

Announcing its support, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said, "With the U.S. economy continuing to deteriorate, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce calls on the Senate to approve without delay H.R. 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The legislation is not perfect -- parts of the bill should be modified or eliminated. However, the Chamber urges the Senate to approve H.R. 1, and encourages Congress and the Administration to work on a conference report that provides timely, targeted, and temporary economic stimulus. The Chamber supports pro-growth tax initiatives in the bill. In particular, the Chamber strongly supports provisions that would: extend the net operating loss (NOL) carryback period; provide for bonus depreciation and allow a refundable alternative minimum tax (AMT) credit in lieu of bonus depreciation; extend small business expensing; extend AMT relief; and provide a housing credit. The Chamber also supports provisions to extend the Trade Adjustment Assistance program.

"In addition, the Chamber strongly supports the Reid-Conrad-Ensign proposal on cancellation of indebtedness (COI). The Chamber applauds the inclusion of tax relief for companies that purchase their own or related party debt at a discount by providing relief from the current COI rules. This important provision applies to all restructurings, including debt-for debt, equity-for-debt, cash-for- debt, and similar exchanges. This provision helps preserve jobs, facilitates the deleveraging of the U.S. economy, and strengthens financial institutions’ balance sheets. Moreover, many of the spending-side provisions of the legislation will also provide stimulus and get Americans back to work. Of note, the Chamber strongly supports provisions to increase infrastructure spending. . ."

According to a CNN U.S. National Poll on February 7-8, the President's job approval comes in at 76% Approve, 23% Disapprove; Congressional Job Approval results in 29% Approve, 71% Disapprove. On the specific stimulus question, i.e. "do you favor or oppose the bill that the Senate is expected to vote on?"; the results indicate: 54% Favor and 45% Oppose.

Despite the widespread support for the stimulus, most Republican's in the House and Senate remain opposed. On the Passage of the Bill (H.R. 1 as Amended by the Collins-Nelson (NE) Amendment conducted today, February 10, 37 Republicans voted against the measure, and Senator Gregg (R-NH) who was recently appointed by President Obama to head the Department of Commerce removed himself from the vote. 56 Democrats, 2 Independents and 3 Republicans (Collins, ME; Snowe, ME, and Specter, PA) voted for the measure to obtain 61 votes necessary for passage.

Today, February 10, in opening remarks Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said, "The American people were ready to support an economic plan that would work and that wouldn't spend money we don't have on things we don't need. So were Republicans in Congress. What many of us did not expect, however, was that President Obama wouldn't be the author of that plan. In an odd turn of events, the bold economic plan that President Obama called for, ended up being written by some of the longest-serving Democrats in the House of Representatives, and it showed. Yesterday, the Democratic majority in the House postponed a leftover appropriations bill from last year that would bring 2009 spending to more than $1 trillion for the first time in the history of our country. It may seem overwhelming to do all of this at the same time, but in my view, we need to lay all of this spending on the table at once rather than trickle it out in an effort to hide the true cost. We need to be straight with the American people."

Senator Dick Lugar (R-IN) said, "The stimulus bill considered by the Senate is a sprawling affair, with massive spending for a wide variety of projects, some of which are completely unrelated to the immediate economic challenges before us. Further, the bill contains provisions that threaten to undermine the very economic growth it purports to stimulate, placing American businesses and their workers in danger of trade-based retaliations and escalating financial protectionism. . ."

Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) said, ". . .we will be voting on a $1.2 trillion mistake. The American people are tired of these expensive mistakes, but this would not be the first one. Now at the end of the Senate’s consideration of HR 1, we are voting tonight to end debate on what is being called a compromise proposal. It is being called a bipartisan proposal. Let me tell the American people that a vote tonight on a proposal supported by all the Democrats and 3 Republicans is not a bipartisan proposal nor is it any kind of compromise. . ."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) issued a brief statement saying, "There is no time to delay. The American people need action on the economy now. Despite the worsening economic crisis, Republican leaders in Congress keep saying ‘No’ to legislation designed to help speed relief to America’s families, workers and small businesses." Pelosi included a listing of the House Republican leadership and their recent votes on major legislative proposals.

Access the President's press conference statement and link to the video of the press conference (
click here). Access the complete statement from the U.S Chamber (click here). Access the complete statement in opposition from Senator McConnell (click here). Access links to the Senate Republican statements and additional Republican view points (click here). Access a release from Speaker Pelosi (click here). Access a statement from the National Association of Manufacturers (click here). Access a statement from the National Governor's Association (click here). Access a support letter from the U.S. Conference of Mayors (click here). Access a release and letter from the National League of Cities (click here). Access the CNN poll results (click here). Access the roll call vote for the February 10, final passage (click here). [Note: Yesterday's report, linked above, included links to the full text and summaries of the Senate substitute bill]. Access the Read The Stimulus blog for additional information (click here). Access the Stimulus Watch blog for additional information (click here). [*All]