House releases first look at Obama stimulus
House Democrats have given America a first draft of what economic stimulus will look like under President Obama.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009, released Thursday, includes a bit of everything – from clean-energy subsidies to school modernization to highway spending. These are long-term investments that could change the shape of the United States, much as Depression-era work programs modernized America for the 20th century.
But by far the largest part of the sprawling package is aimed at short-term stimulus. A third of the $825 billion bill – some $275 billion – would go to tax cuts for the middle-class that President-elect Obama campaigned on during the election. as well as tax cuts to businesses to encourage job-creation.
The next biggest piece is an $87 billion temporary increase in what the government reimburses states for their Medicaid programs. Another $79 billion would also go to the states to prevent cutbacks by local schools and public university.
In all, these short-term efforts – including the tax cut – represent roughly $600 billion of the total bill. The rest is dedicated to longer-term efforts, such as doubling renewable-energy production ($32 billion), highway construction ($30 billion), and school construction ($20 billion).
The House plan was worked out with cooperation with Obama, but it still must go through the House and be reconciled with any Senate plan. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called it a "first step" and said it would reach the president's desk in a month.
House minority leader John Boehner called the plan "disappointing" because it didn't offer even more money in the form of tax cuts.
The House Ways and Means Committee, which released a summary of the bill Thursday, highlighted the fact that it contained no earmarks.