Robert Borosage: Progressives Need to Push the Senate on Stimulus Bill

EJS works with many other groups to push a progressive vision for America and the world. On Tuesday, we were part of a call to discuss unconscious racial bias and the current political scene.

Before the call started we were kibitzing about the economic stimulus plan and how progressive folks might get involved. Robert Borosage gave us his perspective on what should be done. His analysis follows. As you will read, he feels that three Republican Senators are key to this effort.

Visit to take action and also call these Senators and ask them to restore the cuts to the stimulus bill:

  • Sen. Arlen Specter – 202-224-4254
  • Sen. Olympia J. Snowe – (202) 224-5344
  • Sen. Susan M. Collins – (202) 224-2523

Here’s Robert Borosage’s analysis:

The Senate – under the wrong-leaded posturing of Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb) – made the recovery plan significantly weaker.

The biggest change was to substitute the “fix” of the Alternative Minimum Tax – a tax reduction that goes almost completely to those who make $100,000 to $200,000 per year.

That cost about $70 billion. So Sen. Collins and others took out:

  • $40 billion in aid to the states (primarily earmarked for maintenance of education funding);
  • $20 billion in construction, repair and maintenance for schools and colleges;
  • $10 billion in head start, child care block grants, support for health care for the unemployed;
  • And assorted other spending.

This is both economically and morally inane. Economically, because the spending that was cut generates far more jobs and growth than the AMT fix. Morally, on its face.

The Senate bill and House bill now go into formal conference. The Senate Republican conferees probably won’t include Sens. Spector, Collins or Snowe – the three Rs that voted to end the filibuster, and for the bill.

But they will control the negotiation. House negotiators will push to put the education spending back in and the greater aid for unemployed health, but they will be constrained by what two of the three Rs will accept. They set the limits because their votes, and only their votes, will determine if the revised package passes.

So pressure on the three is vital. By all accounts, Sen. Spector is the most likely to be sensible, since he just found out he doesn’t have a conservative challenging him in his primary. Snowe is far better than Collins, the bipartisanship poster child. And apparently the two female Republican Maine Senators intensely dislike each other.

So a lot of effort is going to be put into getting two of the three to support putting the spending back in.

Here’s the timing: conference negotiators chosen maybe as you see this. Speaker Pelosi wants a vote by this weekend. They are slated to go home and on junkets for the President’s Day holiday, so they’ll want to get this done by this Saturday if at all possible.

At the same time, people should be attacking the utter irresponsibility of the Republicans. They have embraced the Limbaugh position.

They want Obama to fail, even if it takes the country down at the same time. They have learned nothing and changed nothing. Virtually all of them voted for a plan by Sen. DeMint that was half the size of the Obama plan and all tax cuts – simply preposterous.

They clearly believe that they will benefit by saying that this won’t work, hoping that it doesn’t work, doing what they can to weaken it (by making it smaller and increasing the tax cut portion like the AMT fix), positioning themselves to run in two years saying “we told you so.”

They should be excoriated by every decent journalist, editorialist and patriot in the country.

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