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Published:February 14th, 2009 10:46 EST
New Provisions in Stimulus Plan Benefit Lowest-Income Americans

New Provisions in Stimulus Plan Benefit Lowest-Income Americans

By Christopher HIllenbrand

With the stock market still on the cusp of falling into utter calamity, the Congress still has remained stagnant in passing Obama`s stimulus package. But Congressional Democrats, with vehement opposition from Republican leaders in the legislature, have instituted another 3 refinements to a bill already leading financial analysts to shudder at the final cost to taxpayers.


Under the 3 items now installed on the bill, the neediest families and individuals in the country would receive a monetary leg-up, greater in scope than the original provision mandated for the poorest, to aid in curbing foreclosure rates and fulfilling general costs of living.


The 1st provision pertains to increasing funding for the Welfare, unemployment, and Supplemental Security Income programs. Recent studies show that 30 million Americans are currently eligible for Welfare, and the number is steadily growing as companies across the nation are making massive job cuts. Those living off food stamps will be receiving more, though the actual amount extra they`d get is debated.


Unemployed taxpayers are to see 25 dollars more in Unemployment benefits a pay period, as well as an extension on how long they can obtain assistance. At least 7 million of the most impoverished Americans over 65, blind, or disabled are receiving S.S.I. payments; these people will be given one lump sum of 250 dollars tacked on to 1 of their S.S.I. checks.


The 2nd refers to inflating the budget to the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit already in place, while the 3rd includes a new refundable tax credit for American workers. In total, the all-encompassing financial strategy should positively impact more than 2 million Americans, including close to a million under the age of 18. Moneys are also to be allocated to the most poverty-stricken areas of the country to facilitate in housing and education.  


As adjuncts to those, this most recent draft of the package outlines 3 billion more in emergency assistance to be given to needy households nationwide. A second add-on entails 87 billion dollars to be deposited into various Medicaid programs in states too short of cash to continue providing Medicaid on their own.


Economists subscribe to the idea that pumping funds directly in the lowest-income Americans` pockets should jumpstart the economy sooner. According to proponents of the proposal, it`s because they`re the likeliest to use the money right away for basic necessities where some retail sectors are struggling due to poor quarterly sales.


Supporters of the ideas argue that while the benefits are short-term, families that will receive relief, if this bill as written passes, should see the quality of their lives improve drastically. The new programs will help families afford housing or prevent those in mortgages from going into foreclosure: which would invariably force them to move. Thereby, these will also work to prevent children in low-income families from having to change schools, further stabilizing children`s lives in the process.


Those in the legislature and elsewhere opposed to the proposed items on the package claim that a timetable should be set for when the benefits will expire. The same individuals question the validity of a plan that only helps the poorest while excluding those not falling beneath the poverty line.


As Robert Rector, a chief research fellow for the Heritage Foundation put it: This is the largest expansion of welfare in the history of the country. It`s all in the form of one-way handouts.


For opponents believing that no long-term solution will be reached by this recent development, one sub-point in the provisions states that once a person on Welfare finds a job, he or she may collect Medicaid for up to a year. This provision will last until June.