According to Rasmussen Reports’ latest telephone survey, 48% of Americans say that generally speaking, increased government spending is bad for the economy. Meanwhile there are 35% of Americans that believe that government spending will help the economy and 7% predict there will no impact.
This information comes at a time when Washington prepares for a week sure to be filled with controversy over the dueling Stimulus Packages currently in the Senate and the House. President Obama’s top aides are calling for the “setting aside” of political differences between Republicans and Democrats on the Hill. President Obama has called for the final bill to be on his desk in just eight calendar days.
But the differences between the House-passed and Senate stimulus package will not be easily negotiated. Remember the House version, at $819 billion, passed but it had absolutely no Republican support at all, they argued that there are not enough tax cuts and too much debt to be placed on future generations.
Senator John McCain on CBS’s “Face the Nation” this morning stated that, “This agreement is not bipartisan.” McCain also feels that the stimulus package is far too large and at only three Republicans will support it in the Senate.
The Senate is currently scheduled to vote on their version of the stimulus package, at $827 billion, on Tuesday. But then the real work begins of trying to negotiate common ground between the two versions of the stimulus package.
So what are the differences between the House version and the Senate version of the stimulus package? Here are some of the highlights:
Stimulus Package Cash Payments to Americans
The Senate wants $17 billion for one time payouts to those on Social Security and veterans on disability or pensions. Meanwhile the House version is $4 billion for Social Security recipients and $450 for individuals and $630 for married couples.
Stimulus Package Food Stamps/Welfare
The Senate would provide $16.5 billion to increase food stamp benefits, the House is proposing $20 billion. For welfare the Senate would provide $3 billion in temporary welfare payment, the House wants $1 billion with another $1 billion in heating assistance and community action agencies.
Stimulus Package Health Care Payments
The Senate version would allow for $21 billion helping the unemployed with insurance under COBRA and $87 billion going to the states for Medicaid. The House wants $40 billion to subsidize COBRA payments and the same amount to the states for Medicaid.
Stimulus Package Energy Programs
$40 billion is being set aside in the Senate version for energy programs that are focused on green initiatives. The House version is just $28.4 billion.
Stimulus Package Other Differences
For Homeland Security the Senate wants $4.7 billion, the House only $1.1 billion. For unemployment benefits, the Senate wants $14.7 billion to exclude tax on the first $2400 received in benefits. The House has nothing on this in their version. If you want to buy a car the Senate wants $11 billion to make the interest deductible, but the House does not include this request.
There are more differences, these are just a few of the most impactful to Americans. But Americans are asking themselves if this is the right thing to do. We are in the worst economic situation we have ever faced in over seventy years and the answers are not easy to find.
Again Rasmussen tells us that 45% of Americans say cuts in government spending generally help the economy while 29% say cuts will hurt the economy. Just 15% of voters say that they would support a stimulus package that only included new spending and no tax cuts.
Meanwhile other data is showing that Americans are evenly split on Obama’s statement of last week that there will be a “catastrophe” if stimulus package is not passed as quickly as possible.
The only thing that is for sure in the next few days will be the complex and controversial process that our lawmakers will go through in order to try to meet Obama’s deadline to have a stimulus package on his desk in eight days.
“White House Seeks Final Passage of Rescue Plan”, Rueters, 2/8/2009
“Breaking Down the Stimulus Bill”, AP, 2/6/2009
“Say Increased Government Spending Hurts Economy”, 2/8/2009