Senate Passes $800 Billion (and Then Some) Ways to Die Bill, A.K.A. Stimulus Legislation


All Dems and three Reps (Arlen Specter, Susan Collins, and Olympia Snowe) voted for it. GOP N.H. Sen. Judd Gregg, tapped for a cabinet slot, abstained.

Sez the Wash Post:

The Senate today passed an economic stimulus bill that President Obama and congressional Democrats called crucial to pull the U.S. economy out of its downward spiral but that drew scant support from Republicans….

"When the town is burning, we don't check party labels," Obama said. "Everyone needs to grab a hose!"…

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), speaking on behalf of the bill, said that although the nation is edging into a "recessionary spiral downward" that could become a depression, "the other side is still adamantly sticking to policies that don't work."

He said that Democrats "bent over backward" to accommodate GOP views but that they were "drawing the line at continuing the very policies" that led to the current crisis. He also pointed out that the two largest amendments to the bill were added by Republicans: a $36 billion homebuyers' tax credit promoted by  Sen. Johnny Isakson (Ga.) and a $70 billion patch to the alternative minimum tax authored by  Sen. Charles E. Grassley (Iowa). Yet neither senator voted for the overall bill, Schumer said.

In addition, he said, "lots of the little porky things" that Republicans objected to in the bill have been removed. These items, such as funding to spruce up the Mall, were "excuses," since their removal still did not attract GOP votes, he said.

"The sad fact…is that unless the bill is all tax cuts, mostly for the wealthy, and has almost no spending, the other side will never vote for it," Schumer said. He vowed, "We will not be diverted…We will not sacrifice the focus of this bill—jobs, tax cuts for the middle class and infrastructure—for anything."

More here.

Immediate reaction: I'm sure that Chuck Schumer had to sacrifice a lot in a bill that was trimmed by $100 billion and still ended up north of $800 billion. Some gave all. All gave some. And we'll be paying this one off from now until our 200th birthdays.

It is far from clear what the hell Schumer could possibly mean when he says we have to stop continuing the very policies that got us in such a pickle. Like what? Too much government spending? Too much government subsidy of the housing market? Too much consumer spending? Isn't this thing specificially designed to get all of that moving again? How about letting housing values actually sink down to where they might actually deserve to be? How about letting Fed rates drift up from 0 percent for a quarter or three? How about simply cutting taxes across the board, accompanied by spending cuts?

That said, Republicans, especially in the Senate, don't have any credibility on fiscal issues. They did nothing but break the bank when they actually ran the government and they did next to nothing when George W. Bush and Twitchy Paulson rolled out the bailout barrel last fall.

So why is their bipartisan failure falling onto our collective bottom line?

Because this is America, dammit, and their debt is our debt. But I still want to remember a time when a trillion dollars was a lot of money.

More on the Senate's slapfight from earlier today.