Progressive Backbone of the Stimulus
The Progressive Caucus lists the very good provisions as part of the stimulus package, and they are hard to argue with:
• Unemployment benefits (UI) extension. Cost = at least $12.7 billion
• Anti-hunger provisions
* SNAP - 20% temporary increase in maximum food stamp level above the FY2009 level for two years. Cost = approximately $24 billion and increase in funds for state food stamp administrative costs Cost= $250 million;
* WIC - increase funding to make up for shortfall not covered in the current Continuing Resolution. Cost = $450 million and increases for management information system and related infrastructure improvements. Cost = $50 million;
* School meals - provide a 15% increase in funding for breakfast and school lunch programs. Cost = $1 billion;
• Medicaid payments to states (FMAP). Cost = at least $15 billion
• LIHEAP assistance to provide low-income Americans relief from higher energy costs. Cost = at least $5 billion
• Job creation via down payment on rebuilding America's infrastructure and schools, starting with massive investment in commercialization of green technologies and related job training that promote environmental protection and energy independence. Cost = at least $100 billion
** In general:
• No funds for Iraq or Afghanistan wars and no funds for defense procurement.
• Prevailing wage to be paid for jobs created and upholding of Davis-Bacon Act
Add it up and that comes to $157.5 billion in progressive priorities as described by the caucus, in the plan. You can add another $3 billion in transit funding that just passed as an amendment via voice vote. I would of course like to see more, but that's a pretty decent foundation, and of course it doesn't count the middle-class and lower-class tax cuts.
Wingnuts can cherry pick the bill to death (Republicans are now FOR people getting STDs? And don't they realize that treating STDs cost money and that all preventive medicine saves in the long run?) but I would guess these priorities are staying. We're not even a quarter of the way through the process, but I'm less agitated than I could be.
And it goes without saying that these idiots who ran the economy into the ground for years and created this crisis should not be listened to by anyone.
"The Republican answer to everything is tax cuts, we've tried it for eight years it hasn't worked for the economy, that's what they always say...Their answer is always tax cuts no matter what the question is and it simply hasn't worked. We've had eight years of deregulation, privatization and tax cuts for the rich and look where it's gotten us. It's not a surprise that this economy's in such bad shape because of those policies, we don't want to do more of them." - Sherrod Brown
If Democrats still exist on cable news, they would do well to say that over and over and over again. Bipartisanship is a phantom. Republicans won't vote for this package at all, because they have no political reason to do so. Also they are congenitally wired to do the very opposite of this prescription. It isn't worth reaching out anymore.