February 16th, 2009 11:10 EST
The Stimulus Passes: A Landmark for an Administration of High Expectations
After weeks of heated debates crossing back and forth between party lines, President Obama finally saw the bill he helped to write, with many unnecessary concessions, pass on Friday. The bill had siphoned through the Senate on a vote of 60-38, with the determining votes coming down to 3 Republicans who were amongst a select few who voted against their party line`s opinion. Moderate Republican senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine and Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania gave the legislation the requisite shove it needed to make it into the books.
Once put into effect, the 787 billion dollar stimulus ranks as one of the greatest expenditures ever enacted by Congress. One of the bill`s purposes extends billions of dollars in lifelines to those accosted by the recession in the forms of Welfare, Unemployment, medical care, occupational training, and disability. Billions are to be appropriated to local governments and public schools nationwide to defer some of the financial burdens from already dwindling State funds. Close to 50 billion dollars is to be infused into infrastructure projects around the country, including local transit railways and high-speed train lines.
Obama`s two own ideas: growth of computerized information technology in the health care industry and billions for investment into green technology to create new jobs. Naturally, the tax cuts will be far-reaching and extensive, affecting 95 percent of all Americans including those who don`t make enough money to pay income taxes. In the tax cuts, individual taxpayers will receive 400 dollars in tax breaks and couples will see 800 additional in tax breaks. As a compromise to satisfy Republicans` wishes, 70 billion is to protect upper middle-class and wealthier citizens from the income tax hike that would hit their pockets the most. With the Senate`s passage of the initiative on February 13th, this upholds the promise Congressional Democrats made claiming it would pass by mid-February.
Once the final vote had been released, Congressional Democrats celebrated the legislation they had lobbied for so long to have passed. Republicans, on the other hand, spoke out of turn early and often on how the bill contains far too much wasteful spending.
Shortly before the vote was decided, Sen. Republican leader Mitch McConnell imposed his take on the bill filled with wastes of taxpayers` money to those on the Senate floor. A stimulus bill that was supposed to be timely, targeted and temporary is none of the above. And this means Congress is about to approve a stimulus that`s unlikely to have much stimulative effect. " Many of his peers in the G.O.P. shared his sentiments on conservative talk radio and political forums coming from the monumental plan`s passage and well into the weekend.
Max Baucus, Democratic Senator from Montana, who was actively involved with the development of the proposal, stated that President Obama now has a bill that will create millions of good-paying jobs and help families and businesses stay afloat financially.
While not entirely happy with the outcome, President Obama still applauded the bill`s passage as a major milestone on our road to recovery. During his weekly radio broadcast and Internet announcement, Obama declared: I will sign this legislation into law shortly, and we`ll begin making the immediate investments necessary to put people back to work doing the work America needs done. But in the same address, he warily forewarned the American public that this historic step won`t be the end of what we do to turn our economy around, but rather the beginning. The problems that led us into this crisis are deep and widespread, and our response must be equal to the task.
Obama is visiting friends in Chicago over the weekend, before he`s scheduled to return to Washington D.C. on Monday. He plans to head out west to Denver on Tuesday to discuss his economic agenda. Then on the same trip, Obama will speak at a conference in Phoenix concerning his plans to cut foreclosure rates in the city, and the state at large hit hard by the recession. But before he leaves to promote his ideas to the country, Obama is predicted to sign the stimulus package into law as early as Monday.