Saturday, January 31, 2009

Progressive Progress in the Economic Stimulus

As the Senate girds for battle over the repug-sabotaged economic stimulus, Talking Points Memo brings us a reminder of the progressive priorities that made it into the House bill and deserve saving in the Senate.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus just released a memo that offers a worthy counterpoint to our discussions today about the Republicans' baldly misleading message on the stimulus.

The Progressives have rounded up elements of their proposed $1 trillion stimulus that ended up making it into the Democratic leaders' final bill, in part or in whole. It's a list that's worth remembering while tax cuts seemingly dominate the airwaves.

The highlights of the memo are after the jump:

• Unemployment benefits (UI) extension. Cost = at least $12.7 billion

• Anti-hunger provisions

* SNAP - 20% temporary increase in maximum food stamp level above the FY2009 level for two years. Cost = approximately $24 billion and increase in funds for state food stamp administrative costs Cost= $250 million;

* WIC - increase funding to make up for shortfall not covered in the current Continuing Resolution. Cost = $450 million and increases for management information system and related infrastructure improvements. Cost = $50 million;

* School meals - provide a 15% increase in funding for breakfast and school lunch programs. Cost = $1 billion;

• Medicaid payments to states (FMAP). Cost = at least $15 billion

• LIHEAP assistance to provide low-income Americans relief from higher energy costs. Cost = at least $5 billion

• Job creation via down payment on rebuilding America's infrastructure and schools, starting with massive investment in commercialization of green technologies and related job training that promote environmental protection and energy independence. Cost = at least $100 billion

** In general:

• No funds for Iraq or Afghanistan wars and no funds for defense procurement.

• Prevailing wage to be paid for jobs created and upholding of Davis-Bacon Act

These are, of course, just a downpayment on the long list of repairs to the New Deal and Great Society needed after three decades of repug destruction.

But if these provisions remain in the final bill and President Obama signs it by Darwin Day, then I'd say we're well on our way to recovery.