The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has yet to be signed by President Obama as I write this in mid-February, but the stimulus package has passed the House and Senate, with only three Republican votes. The final figures, according to preliminary analysis, are $212 billion in tax breaks and $575 billion in spending, with a total of $787 billion.
According to Senator Patty Murray, Washington anticipates more than $6.7 billion in funding for new job creation and state assistance funding. Some of the approximate investments, tax cuts and grant programs specifically benefiting our state are:
Tax Cuts — income tax cut up to $800 from paychecks; tax credit for first-time home buyers ($8000); deductions from State and local sales and excise tax for new vehicle purchases.
Transportation/ Infrastructure — public transit ($180 million); ferries ($60 million shared nationwide); state roads, highways, bridges ($500 million).
Safety Net — unemployment benefits (additional $100/month); training for new careers ($66 million); affordable housing ($100 million); increased food stamps ($380 million).
Education — $812 million from the State Stabilization Fund, including funding for teaching jobs and reducing class sizes; technology ($13 million); Special Education ($220 million); help for disadvantaged children ($176 million); Special Education ($220 million); Head Start and Early Childhood grants ($33 million); college tuition tax credit (to $2500/year); and college Pell Grants (up $500).
Energy — state energy program, including renewables ($60 million); compensating homes and business weatherization ($61 million); modernizing Bonneville Power Administration power grid, including increasing renewable resources ($3.25 billion additional borrowing authority).
Water/ Environment– drinking water and clean water infrastructure ($42 million); cleanup at Hanford ($2 billion).
Medicaid — $2 billion.
Police/ Fire Fighters — law enforcement grants ($36 million); removing local matches on hiring grants for firefighters.
This plan passed even without our Republicans in congress, who were busy displaying their embarrassing gamesmanship at a time of serious economical crisis.
It’s hard to believe these same congressmen have the cheek to preach their virtues on fiscal restraint. After supporting the economic catastrophe that was the Bush administration, the idea of their passing still more tax cuts for the wealthiest just might not be how their constituents would vote.
President Obama is holding this stimulus package up as his own, willing to take the credit or the blame. The Republican congressmen have made their own bets that the package will be a failure. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) says that Obama’s stimulus failure will enable the return of Republican power in 2010.
The House minority whip, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Vir.), the new Republican voice, steered the stimulus debates and is now steering focus toward the newly raised federal deficit and away from the failed Bush years.
It’s true, President Obama’s stimulus package will boost federal debt. Succeed or not, our progeny will pay for our efforts to survive this very serious economic crisis. Our economy has been disrespected by dubious policies and impotent regulatory institutions for years. Hopefully Obama’s plan will at least slow our circling the economic drain.
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