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February 05, 2009 10:22 PM UTC

Udall, Bennet, Moderates Scalpel Stimulus

  • by: Colorado Pols

As the Pueblo Chieftain reports:

It may be the most expensive surgery in history as a bipartisan group of senators, including Colorado Sen. Mark Udall, is working behind closed doors to cut some of the fat out of the $885 billion stimulus bill being debated this week in the Senate.

Udall is working with the group headed by Sens. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, to try to eliminate spending amendments that will not produce new jobs within the next year.

Both Democratic and Republican senators have complained the massive spending bill is not focused on job-creating programs.

On Tuesday, Udall and newly appointed Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., both backed an amendment to spend an additional $25 billion on highway and infrastructure projects – responding to a vocal complaint from some lawmakers that the stimulus plan doesn’t have enough money for “shovel ready” construction projects across the nation. That amendment fell short of the 60 votes it need to be added to the stimulus package, although it received a majority, 58-39.

Udall and Bennet won’t hurt themselves trying to bring some focus to the stimulus bill, even if they’re not completely successful. There is a growing consensus that the bill needs some nonessential programs cut–or at least moved out of the stimulus package into regular appropriations bills, and the focus of the stimulus returned to projects that will result in…well, economic stimulus.

The Chieftain listed a few of Udall’s recent proposed stimulus amendments, check them out after the jump. Is he splitting the difference to your liking?

Udall, newly elected to the Senate, has introduced several amendments of his own, but it is uncertain whether the Senate Democratic leadership will allow them to be considered. His amendments would:

– Require governors to certify that any federal funds allocated for infrastructure projects in that state would create jobs and improve the local economy.

– Dedicate $2.9 billion for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs that would retrofit residential and commercial buildings. The House stimulus bill has a similar amount dedicated to that program.

– Prioritize the $650 million in the legislation for the wildfire prevention to states hard hit by bark beetle infestation to pay for removing the diseased trees and other wildfire fuel. n Dedicate $2 billion to federal water pollution control projects. Udall said there are pollution-control projects in Colorado alone totaling $360 million.


18 thoughts on “Udall, Bennet, Moderates Scalpel Stimulus

  1. I like the energy and fire mitigation aspects – both job-producing now, and good things in the long run.  The certification by governors seems kind of pointless, though.

    1. The so-called moderates are faking it. They can’t even cut more than $100 billion out of the bloated pork.

      Unless Bennet and Udall vote against the bill tomorrow, I’ll consider them part of the problem, not part of the solution.

      1. by moving the spending from the stimulus bill to the normal appropriations process, they will have won. You can dream, but the spending’s not going away, it’s just coming out of the stimulus bill.

      2. From Steven Pearlstein column

        what’s striking is that supposedly intelligent people are horrified at the thought that, during a deep recession, government might try to help the economy by buying up-to-date equipment for the people who protect us from epidemics and infectious diseases, by hiring people to repair environmental damage on federal lands and by contracting with private companies to make federal buildings more energy-efficient.

        What really irks so many Republicans, of course, is that all the stimulus money isn’t being used to cut individual and business taxes, their cure-all for economic ailments, even though all the credible evidence is that tax cuts are only about half as stimulative as direct government spending.

        So you see, it’s the obstructionist party who IS the problem. The same failed policies of the past eight years will not get us out of this recession. America voted for change, a new way to run our country, and yet you didn’t get that memo?  

  2. can only vaguely be tied to stimulus. The kind of western Dems, moderates and indies who are responsible for new Dem strength in congress, state legislatures, the White House and for successful western governors are not happy with House Dems, mainly from safe districts, trying to turn this into a fat wish list bill, even if we agree with many of the wishes.

    For instance, family planning money is certainly worthwhile but doesn’t belong in the stimulus bill. Decision to cut that was a good one and we need more cuts along those lines. Dems are still in no position to see this thing as a candy store.

    First things first.  If we can get this down to where Blue Dogs and a few Rs in the Senate are willing to come along, other pet projects should get their own legislation outside of the stimulus bill.  

    I hope Democratic Senators will listen to westerners who know how to be successful in no where near all blue states and focus on what’s clearly stimulus related and sacrifice what is not. That will give the few remaining moderate R Senators what they need to say yes and avoid a filibuster.  

      1. Everybody says the items the Republicans are going to town with all over the media account for just 1 percent of the bill.  All the more reason to cut most of them the hell out.  

        It will give just enough cover, along with the Republican governors backing the bill, to Blue Dogs and just enough Rs (such as Collins, Snow and maybe a couple more) to avoid a filibuster. That’s bipartisan enough for now.  

        You’re perfectly correct that most Rs won’t support it anyway but we need only a couple with the Blue Dogs. We CAN do better than zero, especially if, beside the one percent, we trim some portions to make a dent in the final big number.

        It may be mainly sound bites and PR but we all know how much that can matter.  We went to war in Iraq on the basis of sound bites and PR.  We stood by while our rights were trashed based on sound bites and PR.  Don’t kid yourself.  We need sound bites and PR, too.  Pelosi and the House Dems aren’t the model the Senate leadership ought to be looking to here.

          1. We don’t need “they”.  Who cares what “they” will or will not stop at?

            I think you are missing my point.  I’m not proposing a way to a Kumbaya moment. I know that’s never going to happen.  We only need to get to 60.  Collins and Snow are actively looking for a way to say yes.  Let’s help them.  We don’t need to pass everything Dems want in this one bill.  We DO need to pass this one bill ASAP.  If we get it passed the Senate we’re there. The House Rs can posture all they want but it goes to the President’s desk.

    1. ….a news story like this one from the Chieftain?  Something that Udall and Bennet can point to during their election campaigns?  I suppose this need is more pressing for Bennet.

      or did you mean a benefit to the country and apple pie and what not?

  3. 1) Obama proposed that the stimulus package would consist of 40% tax cuts. The House bill was 22% and even adding the new cuts proposed in the Senate, it’s not even 25% Add some tax cuts that are focused on small biz and normal folk, add some balance with some pain for the rich folks, and get that number up to 30% Both sides can claim a win.

    2) Cut out the NEA funding. It’s symbolic. I technically work in the arts field, and I don’t need this.

    3) Keep the Buy America clause. I know the Repubs are hooting  about this, but too fuckin’ bad. It’s been a part of gov’t procurement for 70 years, and it’s about time to spank the Canadians and Chinese for their cheap steel (made that way with subsidies.)

    4) Veterans need to be part of this bill – so lets spend some money on medical treatment, vouchers for family members to help take care of their wounded warriors (child care for one), and spend some money on VA Hospitals. Like the one they’ve been meaning to build on Fitzsimmons for goddamn too many years.

    5) Go with Rep Polis’ cut on capital gains taxes on AMERICAN auto industry stocks. Put a hard limit on the duration – like 5 years.


  4. that some of the provisions being negotiated and potentially on the chopping block are measures that would be critically important to Colorado, such as the Medicaid federal match (FMAP), state fiscal stabilization, Title I money (IDEA, school modernization, etc.), and other key provisions.  If these provisions get killed, it could be a death blow for Colorado’s safety net.  Hopefully our Senators know that.  

    As we’re is facing truly catastrophic cuts, we have to keep all measures on the table including maximizing federal money (which means we need to get rid of the 6%).  

    To borrow a line from a colleague, Colorado is already the skinny kid in class, and a few wrong moves could end up leaving us starved.

    Also, we need to put to rest this foolish notion that tax cuts and other ineffective measures that have been tried, tested, and failed over the last decade will somehow help get us out of this recession.  Won’t happen.  This is exactly what government’s role should be–to step in and do what the private sector is unwilling or unable to do, in this case, moving money to spark the economy.  

  5. It will prolong the recession and if other countries reciprocate we could have the recession continue indefinitely. And I say this as someone who could benefit greatly from this as all of our competitors are multi-nationals.

    1. The Canadians were pissed Tue and Wed…but by today’s “Question Time,” the Liberals didn’t seem to be as pissed with the Government as they had been.

      Either that or I didn’t quite catch everything in French.  🙂

    2. It isn’t new – the majority of gov’t infrastructure projects have following it for years. Why wouldn’t we want a rule that say all gov’t fleet vehicles need to be American-made hybrids? Doesn’t that force the Big 3 to make them – in America?

      It’s also a red herring from the other countries – for them, its less about protectionism as it is leverage for later trade talks.

      Great podcast on that subject here:

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