Monday, February 09, 2009

What the Senate Thinks is Important

The Senate, especially the Republicans therein, has made a big deal about the fact that they don't like the House version of the stimulus package. They've crafted their own version, which will have to be reconciled with the House version somehow, in conference. The differences between the two bills tell you a whole lot about what the Republicans in the Senate consider really, really important in these disastrous times.

There's a whole lot less aid to the states - $40 billion less. Apparently state governments should be left to cut services and lay people off. That'll help the economy a lot, that will, especially in the long term - $16 billion of the cuts will come out of school construction. (What is it about Republicans and education funding??)

Also helpful to the economy will be the absence of Medicaid coverage for the unemployed uninsured, cuts in Food Stamps, and the limitation of the child tax credit to families with wages of at least $8,100.

Since the bills spend about the same amount, what are the Repubs putting it into?? Tax cuts. $70 billion in alternative minimum tax relief - for one year. Believe me, poor people don't pay the AMT. The Repubs are also fond of the $15K tax credit for home buyers - Paul Krugman, in yesterday's N.Y. Times, calls it a "$15,000 bonus to affluent people who flip their houses."

You people in states with Republican senators: write this stuff down, will you? And remember it, at the next election. Please remember that your senators didn't feel Medicaid and food stamps were important in a downturn. And then vote.


  1. Did everybody just start citing Paul Krugman? Or am I late to this party? I just linked his blog yesterday!

  2. Anonymous9:52 PM

    You don't want to educate people, educated people think, we wouldn't want that!!!


  3. The child tax credit "limit" was confusing, and I thought you meant it was reduced. But:

    "Child tax credit: The bill increases eligibility for the child tax credit by lowering the income threshold that must be met to $8,100. That will allow lower income families to claim more of the credit. Estimated cost: $7.2 billion."

    Now I think you meant they could have extended the credit down to lower wage levels and didn't.

    It does seem arbritary to cut it off below 8100.

    This one:
    "Earned income tax credit: The credit will be temporarily increased from 40% to 45% of qualifying earnings for low-income families with three or more children. It also includes a marriage penalty relief provision for couples who qualify for at least a portion of the credit. Estimated cost: $4.6 billion."

    Also seems arbritary. Why not also for families with 2 kids?

  4. Perhaps the real way to best help families with kids is raise the federal 1040 exemption for dependents from $3500 to something more realistic like about $9000 for 1 kid, and $8000/each for more. Then *include* FICA tax as part of the tax that could get refunded in consequence.

  5. Historically, this is a clear-cut class system position. Republicans have always regarded public education with a jaundiced eye. In the ideal world (of Republican dreams), only the top 5% of the population could afford to school their children generously. After all, this is the ruling class, and since they run everything, they need an education to do that. The lower classes, who do the grunt work, don't need to be educated. Too, it's better to keep them moderately stupid and uninformed, since too much awareness and knowledge of politics might make them obstreperous. Better to keep them dumb.

    The Bush Family's version of America is that if your parents can't afford private school and an Ivy League certificate, you should be shunted off into a one-room schoolhouse.

    It's essentially an undemocratic notion that comes from the Tory sensibility. They're the folks who push vouchers.

    My personal take on this is it's true that at least 75% of the population really doesn't need a college education, but that there's no reason why they shouldn't have a world-class high school education. I will add, however, that we do need to set limits on how far we expect public schools to stretch to accommodate illegal immigrant children, many of whom can't even speak English. In hard times, I see no excuse in indulging this rip-off. We should deport these folks. If their parents want to pay to send them North for a quality education, let them pay their share of the bill. If we can't afford a decent education for our own citizens, we certainly can't afford to offer it to illegals.