Democrats Declare Urgent Need for Second Economic Stimulus
As the economy continues to flop, congressional Democrats are pushing harder to move a second economic stimulus bill before the end of the year.
Taxpayers will remember that the first round of stimulus efforts came in the form of direct-to-the-door rebate checks — $600 for individuals and $1,200 for married couples. This time around, lawmakers are focusing on infrastructure projects, social services like unemployment insurance and direct aid to states, many of which are struggling with budget deficits. There’s even an emerging effort to have green-energy investment a central focus of the bill.
During a hearing of the House Education and Labor Committee on Friday, Democratic leaders conveyed a sense that, given the current economic conditions, Congress will have little choice but to pass something soon.
“It’s clear that it has to be done,” said Rep. George Miller (D-Cal), chairman of the panel. “And it’s going to be done by the Congress in relatively short order.”
Not that it will be easy. In September, House Democrats passed a $58-billion stimulus package that included many of the same elements now under discussion. Senate Republicans blocked the measure, and President George W. Bush had vowed a veto.
The cost of the evolving package remains up in the air, but economists are floating figures ranging from $150 billion to $400 billion.
This week, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino indicated that Bush would be open to some form of stimulus, but she seemed to reject the ideas included in the House-passed bill. That could set the stage for a post-election partisan showdown.
With that in mind, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) has already said that Democrats are prepared to push their efforts into January if they can’t move the bill in November, according to Associated Press.
Look here next week for a short series on what measures the Democrats hope to include in their package — including green energy, infrastructure and aid to states — and how those provisions might work to get the economy back on its feet.