Reconciliation and Approval of Economic Recovery Plan

February 10, 2009

President Barack Obama’s candid appeal to Congress and Senate via press conference confirms the White House commitment to relieve severely hurting citizens from the agonizing pain of the ailing economy.

The legislators resisting compromise to the stimulus package obviously do not share the pain of their constituents. If they did, they would have no objection to essential and guaranteed investments specifically identified for job creation in President Obama’s plan.

It is frustrating that partisan politics remains a force to reckon with for the electorate in a democracy.

Tragically, ideology leads the way to oppose a bill designed to assist every taxpayer who is also the consumer and most importantly a voter from becoming a recipient of food stamps.

The excerpt from a recent article titled –

“Billions in aid to states cut amid struggle over stimulus”

By Associated Press, February 8, 2009.

“President Barack Obama and Senate Republicans bickered Saturday over his historically huge economic recovery plan after states and schools lost tens of billions of dollar in a late-night bargain to save it.

Forging compromise –

The compromise reached between a handful of GOP moderates led Susan Collins of Maine, the White House and its Senate allies stripped $108 billion in spending from Obama’s plan, including cutbacks in projects that likely would give the economy a quick lift, like $40 billion in aid to state governments for education and other programs.

Yet, it retained items that also probably won’t help the economy much, such as $650 million to help people without cable receive digital signals through their old-fashioned televisions or $1 billion to fix problems with the 2010 Census.

Among the most difficult cuts for the White House and its liberal allies to accept was the elimination of $40 billion in aid to states, money that economists say is a relatively efficient way to pump up the economy by preventing layoffs, cuts in services or tax increases.”

Reality Check:

Now, any rational citizen regardless of party affiliation should ask the following questions to the GOP moderates seemingly endorsing the bill.

Where are the priorities?

Is helping people receive digital signals through their old-fashioned televisions and a staggering $1 billion to fix problems with the 2010 Census more important than investment in education, easing the burden on states to lift economy by preventing layoffs, cuts in services and tax increases?

Do GOP members realize the reason behind colossal defeat in the 2006 and 2008 election?

The American electorate is tired and bogged down with Washington’s immature revengeful tactics in the approval of legislative matters concerning the lives of every citizen.

Ironically, all those legislators against the approval of this bill targeting the future of our nation with respect to education, job creation and needful services forget that their jobs are also on the line in the process.

If they presume Capitol Hill to be a comfort zone for a specified period and expect immunity from the economic crises, they are being delusional as the electorate has choices to reject such representation in a democracy.

Where was the hype and concern when the previous administration committed the nation to a reckless war that has virtually bankrupted our economy?

Whatever happened to the various failed stimulus packages without any accountability to taxpayers or the oversight committee passed by the Bush administration and approved by the same legislators in opposition to the current one committed towards education and aid to states to revive the economy by preventing layoffs, cuts in services or tax increases?

The irresponsible conduct to block the bill simply suggests that come 2010 the democratic system would be better off with an alternative political party pledging support to the people and engage in constructive rather than destructive role in nation building.

Similar dilemma experienced in the State of California where the budget crisis has reached a point of no return due to political dogma upheld against pragmatic solutions.

The electorates are viewing the entire situation at both state and federal level and will deliver their decision in the ballot in less than eighteen months.

Despite presentation of this bill in the most cohesive manner, all those legislators on both sides prolonging the approval are not only jeopardizing the opportunity to help every constituent from economic failure but also their own career as an elected official to serve the people and the nation in crisis.

It is the duty of every public servant to recognize the plight of their population and heed to the call to oblige urgent needs by approving the stimulus bill particularly the aid to states that are broke along with education, jobs, services and tax modification.

There is no time for procrastination and all that is required is action. Unfortunately, the Presidency of Barack Obama with unprecedented transparency is subject to undue scrutiny for political strategies.

The campaign trail promises prior to election to office whether it is the House or Senate always remains a distant memory with "business as usual " demonstration upon becoming Senators or the House of Representatives.
Decisive Action:

The economic recovery plan aimed at job creation, assistance to states sharing status quo of the nation, improvement of infrastructure and commitment to revival of education, energy, health care is the step in the right direction.

It is imperative for both Democrats and Republicans to get on board in a bipartisan effort and approve the bill without elimination of prudent investments mistaken for wasteful spending. The job losses in Indiana, near double-digit unemployment in California are real problems felt by hard working people across the nation.

The proposed bill with taxpayers’ dollars invested for taxpayers’ benefits is undergoing intensive criticism by lawmakers primarily responsible for allowing the previous administration to squander economic surplus along with exhaustion of national reserves and treasury in wild adventures as the signature mission of the Republican era.

President Barack Obama’s administration did not create this economic catastrophe. They have inherited it upon election to the office on January 20, 2009. Nevertheless, the rhetoric in the Senate and the House mocking hope and change in a theatrical manner is reflective of the opposition role to make noise, create roadblocks and exacerbate the crisis with an adversarial action or inaction.

Only if such fervor and excitement displayed during the approval of mass financial bailout worth a whopping $700 billion and the unlimited commitment of resources in an unnecessary war in Iraq by the Bush administration there would be no debate or discussion for any economic stimulus package today.

It is apparent from those legislators’ reluctance to acknowledge the realities that they prioritize their own needs to remain in power over their constituents’ hardships and suffering in a debilitating economy.

The electorates have a clear choice in the next election to remember those who care and reject those who abandon them during harsh crises.

Political parties might survive on rhetoric and empty promises but people cannot wait until political factions make up their mind for decisive action required to avert Armageddon upon failure to approve the authentic economic recovery plan by President Barack Obama.

Thank you.

Padmini Arhant

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