Economics

Oh Stimulus, That Has Such Pork In It!

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The Senate and the House have apparently reached a compromise on their competing visions of stimulating the hell out of taxpayers' pockets:

Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., one of the negotiators, earlier announced agreement to hold the bill to $789 billion, tens of billions below the cost of both the House and Senate bills that had cleared in recent days, and that 35 percent of the total would be in the form of tax cuts.

The reductions in the bill's size caused grumbles among liberal Democrats, who described them as a concession to the moderates, particularly Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., who are under pressure from conservative Republicans to hold down spending.

The principal components of the emerging measure included money to help victims of the recession, as much as $44 billion in aid for states, which face cuts of their own as a result of lower tax receipts, and the president's proposed tax cut for lower and middle-income wage earners.

Negotiators tentatively agreed to include a one-time payment to recipients of Social Security, Supplemental Security Income and veterans' pensions and disability. While the size of the checks remained unsettled, officials said it would be less than the $300 originally proposed by the Senate.

Officials said there was agreement to accept the White House's call to provide the tax break to workers who pay Social Security taxes but do not earn enough to owe income taxes, although it was possible the amount would be scaled back somewhat. The president sought $500 for individuals and $1,000 for couples.

Working to accommodate the new, lower overall limit of the bill, negotiators effectively wiped out a Senate-passed provision for a new $15,000 tax credit to defray the cost of buying a home, these officials said. The agreement would allow taxpayers to deduct the sales tax paid on new car purchases, but not the interest on loans for the same vehicles.

More sketchy details that will make a grown man weep and a grown woman cry here.

Note the triumphant note in keeping the package under $800 billion, as if that's a sign of fiscal restraint rather than an unbuckling-your-pants-at-the-table-after-a-gigantic-meal-you-fat-fuck moment.

Once more with gusto! Just one more tiny, wafer-thin earmark, Mr. Creosote!

Update: Damon W. Root fills in more details.