Senate Debate on Economic Recovery Plan

February 7, 2009

The Senate is engaged in vigorous debate over the economic stimulus package from President Barack Obama.

It appears there is massive confusion in the determination of priorities on this bill. The honorable Senators are concerned about the effectiveness of this bill given the magnitude and the urgency to address serious challenges facing our nation.

Individual viewpoints during debate are healthy and sometimes serve the purpose to remain objective.

However, in this particular process overindulgence could lead to distraction and become counter-productive.

After viewing the Senate discussion of the bill, it is apparent that Senators are yet to configure the policies and programs to achieve the pertinent goals.

For instance, there is mix up between creating jobs and dealing with foreclosures. In order to target the specifics of the current economic recession, let us breakdown the various components in requirement of stimulus and revival.

The consensus is to have a stimulus plan that yields the desired result of averting further economic meltdown by setting the pace for recovery.

As stated earlier in the economic recovery plan posted on February 3, 2009 the culminating factors of the economic crises are;

Housing market, Job market and Stock market.

Housing market – It is important that foreclosures are dealt with effectively and refinancing opportunities made available to homeowners in dire state.

Current plan has $15,000 in tax credits for new homebuyers in an effort to improve the housing prices through home sales. Unless and until the existing homeowners rescued from losing homes through foreclosures and others with affordable mortgage payments to adjust the deficiency in home value, any measures in this sector will be futile.

At the same time, an amendment to the debated stimulus bill to handle foreclosures saving approximately 1.5 million families from this crisis is a repetitive exercise as claimed by those Senators in opposition to this amendment.

The reason being, as articulated by the Senators against the amendment, The Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) worth $700 billion was committed for this purpose along with bailout of financial institutions.

Accordingly, $50 billion was allocated towards foreclosures and restructuring of mortgage programs.

Therefore, it is imperative to derive that $50 billion from the previous TARP fund and apply towards the revival of housing market crisis. It is quite possible that $50 billion will not be adequate to provide instant relief but action recommended than inaction.

More reason to verify the exact distribution of the previous TARP fund i.e. $700 billion bailout and redirect any unused portion towards challenges such as housing market and consumer spending.


Objectives of the Stimulus/Recovery Plan:

The primary focus of the current stimulus package must be job creation, aid consumer spending and investments with safe returns.

Job creation: President Barack Obama’s proposal aims for creation of 3 million jobs through various avenues such as

Direct investments in public works projects i.e. repair and reconstruction of infrastructure across the nation.

Tax incentives and financial assistance to small businesses and corporations with limited resources.

Minimize payroll tax to curb mass layoffs.

Restore manufacturing jobs with necessary financial assistance and modified tax structure.

Consumer spending: The stimulus package offers relief to consumers with tax credit of $500 for individuals and $1000 for couples. It is essential for consumers to utilize the credits towards consumption of goods and services rather than reducing personal debts as again that would be beneficial to the financial institutions, the major contributor of the economic recession.

It is worth remembering that the Bush administration experimented with this stimulus strategy last summer, i.e. 2008 with $300 rebate per child and a cap on annual income of the family. Obviously, the trial and error method did not payoff due to neglect of other crisis like housing, stock and financial markets.

The lesson learned is to treat housing, job, financial and stock market crisis individually and isolate them from one another even though they comprise the entire cause of the economic recession.

Other ways to trigger consumer spending is to ease the burden on families with energy costs i.e. heating homes around this time of the year is significantly high and reduction of surcharges and taxes on the energy bill will provide relief to population in the worst affected regions of the country.

Consumers represented across the social and economic spectrum in a society range from youth population to families, senior citizens and self-employed individuals…

Any tax benefits and financial assistance should be inclusive of all potential consumers to obtain maximum gains.

Investments with safe returns: All investments must produce optimum returns, secured with viable collaterals and subject to rigorous oversight. Most importantly, the investment must generate jobs and/or income for taxpayers as well as create opportunities to tackle other issues like health care, energy and education.


Partisan Politics vs. National Interest

It is common knowledge that the two major political parties have unique positions on fiscal policies.

The Republican Party is vehemently opposed to tax increases to reaffirm the political platform of the party, while scouring for wasteful spending.

Fiscal responsibility is necessary for a nation saddled with alarming deficit. Nevertheless, desperate times call for desperate measures. Now is the moment to rescue the nation with prudent investments and techniques to revitalize growth in all sectors.

During elimination of costs proven liabilities, diligence is required from legislators to distinguish investments from wasteful spending. Funding National Endowment for Arts is a worthy cause as it promotes creative and Performing arts besides employment opportunities for a significant population who are ultimately taxpayers in the economy.

Sometimes, political debates overshadow the ambition to resolve major national crises.

The Democratic Party must be committed towards immediate mission to revive the economy and therefore abstain from elaborate spending spree on frivolous projects that form the basis for unnecessary political debates.

Compromise on both sides by finding common ground to restore consumer and investor confidence is vital for economic recovery.

With mass layoffs, collapse of housing, financial and manufacturing sectors… partisan politics is symbolic of Washington and it is time to get past conventional ways to demonstrate that representatives in the House and Senate care for their constituents, the real victims of the economic catastrophe.

Conciliatory effort and collective action from all sides is what required to helping our nation survive the worst economic period in recent times.

The Senators can confirm their willingness to work together for national interest by approving the President’s recovery plan.

Taxpayers as electorate are viewing the situation with the hope that policy makers will put aside their differences and reject political scores by pledging support to the job creation proposal from President Barack Obama.

Thank you.

Padmini Arhant


Got something to say?

You must be logged in to post a comment.