Economy & Budget

Stimulus to Strengthen Law Enforcement Funding Nationwide (Sen. Tom Harkin)

When the Senate Appropriations Committee unveiled its stimulus package, I was very pleased that it contained nearly $4 billion to create and retain state and local law enforcement personnel.  With state and local governments already reeling from budget cuts, the worse thing we could do is lay off these people, especially considering that in a time of severe economic downturns, we often see an increase in criminal activity.

While repeated attempts to cut funding for the Byrne grant program have occurred in recent years, I have led the fight in Congress to ensure the nation’s law enforcement have the tools they need to keep our communities safe. In my home state of Iowa, Byrne grants have played a key role in combating the meth epidemic.  The additional $1.5 billion for Byrne Grants, $1 billion for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) and $150 million for Rural Drug Enforcement Assistance programs nationwide will be instrumental in keeping our neighborhoods and streets safe.

Obama Visits GOP

President Obama hopes to gain as much bipartisan support for the $825 economic stimulus after meeting with House Republicans about what they would like to see in the bill.


Anti-Foreclosure Campaign Escalates to Include Civil Disobedience

Facing an impending foreclosure, Rosa and Juan Rico of the San Francisco Bay Area have been trying to work with their bank for months to get a modification of their loan. Without that, they could be the next family on the street as a result of the economic crisis facing the country. But the bank just kept giving them the runaround.

So Rosa and Juan, with backing from 40 Oakland ACORN members, moved themselves into a local branch of the bank on January 15th, complete with a cot and sleeping bags in order to press their demand that the bank work with them and ACORN to modify the loan and keep them in their home.

Unsurprisingly, the bank managers immediately called the police and kicked ACORN and the Ricos out pretty quickly. It's clear that when banks decide to move swiftly they can, but it is sad that with the Ricos they are swift only in saying "No!"

THE BIG QUESTION, Jan. 27: Economic Intervention

The Big Question is a feature where influential lawmakers, pundits and interest group leaders give their answers to a question that’s driving discussion in news circles around the country.

Today’s Big Question is:
Does massive government intervention mean a paradigm shift is taking place in the U.S. economy?

See responses below from Gillian Caldwell, Dean Baker, Rep. Michele Bachmann, Brad Woodhouse and Bertha Lewis.

See the last Big Question here.

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, said:
New paradigms occur when a new approach succeeds.

Margaret Thatcher's privatization. Reagan's tax rate reductions. Britain's free trade displacing the Grain Laws.

Failures don't get to be paradigm shifts... Read the full response

Gillian Caldwell, campaign director of 1Sky said:
Yes, it does. The economic recovery package is a pivotal opportunity to invest in green jobs and in a clean energy infrastructure, which will give our economy a jump start and also will lead to a clean energy America. A truly effective recovery package should do three things:... Read the full response

Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, said:
We had massive government intervention all along in the form of an insurance policy for the financial industry called "too big to fail."

For the convenience of the beneficiaries of this policy (the Wall Street banks and their highly paid executives), we pretended that the government insurance policy did not exist... Read the full response

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) said:
President Obama promised Americans “Hope” and “Change,” but I don’t think many Americans were hoping for a change to socialism. The White House and Democrat Congress are clearly attempting to position the federal government as the end-all, be-all of American success and prosperity. While the economic stimulus package is being shaped as a desperately... Read the full response

Brad Woodhouse, president of Americans United for Change, said:
This is not about paradigms but about the death of one ideology and the rise of another approach. Conservative ideology in the Bush years railed against government and starved and denigrated it to the point that it failed to respond to Hurricane Katrina and let the economy fall into the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes... Read the full response

Bertha Lewis, chief organizer of ACORN, said:
A quiet revolution in public opinion about the economy is well underway. Clearly, the American people have decided that government needs to play a larger and more activist role in healing our ailing economy. For example, GOP pollster Frank Luntz recently found... Read the full response

New Legislation Promotes Biogas Production Through Tax Credits (Sen. Ben Nelson)

Billions of gallons of fossil fuels could be reduced through renewable energy sources produced from wastes with a little ingenuity and modest government support.  I have introduced groundbreaking legislation that promotes the development of biogas – a natural gas substitute created by converting agricultural, animal or other organic wastes – through tax incentives.

We already have the technology to break down these wastes to create biogas but it needs encouragement from the federal government to become a commercially-viable alternative to natural gas.  This new energy source would benefit rural communities and the environment while lessening our dependence on fossil fuels and ensuring energy security. We shouldn’t waste the waste; we should promote biogas development.

Senators Want Wall Street Crackdown

Senators Schumer(D-NY) and Shelby(R-Ala.) propose a bill that aims to crack down on Wall Street fraud, and another bipartisan pair of Senators suggest creating a 9/11-type commission for financial market oversight.


Tax Relief Is Just What The Doctor Ordered (Rep. Ander Crenshaw)

While still the strongest and most prosperous in the world, today our nation finds itself in the midst of a time of economic uncertainty and with a host of financial ailments.

Everyone agrees that something needs to be done, but the approaches to solving these challenges couldn’t be more different.  While many are talking about how the federal government should spend a historic amount of taxpayer money, I believe that the taxpayers themselves are the best stewards of their money, not Washington.  If left with more of their hard-earned money in their wallets, American families and small businesses can and will stimulate the economy far better than politicians in Washington.

Time Could Be Issue for Geithner Confirmation

Treasury Secretary nominee, Timothy Geithner, faces pointed questions from Sen. Bunning (R-Ky.) in his confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee. While Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mon.) is confident that Geithner will be confirmed, Republicans on the committee express their desire for more time to investigate Geithner's tax issue.


Firm Tax Policy Rather than Bailouts Will Restore Economy (Rep. Neugebauer)

I believe we can better stimulate the economy through tax relief, which is why I introduced the Economic Growth Through Tax Stimulus Act. This legislation will make the 2001 and 2003 tax relief permanent, reduce marginal individual income tax rates by 5 percentage points for the next five years and reduce the top business and individual income tax rate to 25 percent for the next 5 years. This type of stimulus policy will translate into half a million more jobs in 2009, add an additional $130 billion in GDP and increase the economic growth rate.

Bailouts reward unsuccessful companies; reducing taxes helps successful employers, both small and large, retain more capital so they can be more productive, hire more workers and improve wages. Across-the-board tax relief means the government is not picking winners and losers. As a former business owner, I know that reducing business taxes will lead to job growth and reduce the annual tax burden on every household.