Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category

POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 3/21

March 21, 2013

A Party at War with Itself

Stu Rothenberg: “The Republican Party continues to fracture more seriously than I expected following last year’s re-election of President Obama.”

“Instead of uniting the GOP’s various constituencies against the president’s agenda, Obama’s re-election seems to have encouraged Republicans to spend much of their time harping on their internal disagreements and fighting over how the party should be positioned for 2016 and beyond.”

Obama Caught on Open Mic Disparaging Congress

When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked if President Obama was counting on some rest and relaxation during his trip to Israel, the president quickly said, “It’s good to get away from Congress.”

David Hawkings: “The jape was caught on an open mic and appeared in no official transcripts, underscroring the perception that Obama is never more candid than when he’s lamenting his troubles back home in conversations abroad — and doing so with a foreign leader on the curious assumption that no one’s listening in.”

See more…

Senate Faces Politically Tough Votes

Roll Call: “The first vote-a-rama on a Senate budget resolution in four years offers each party a chance to force the other to cast politically treacherous votes, and both sides are lining up for the opportunity, which could begin as early as Friday.”

Obama Considers Foxx for Transportation

President Obama is considering appointing Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx (D) for secretary of transportation, Bloomberg reports.

“Obama also is considering Deborah Hersman, the head of the National Transportation Safety Board, for the position… The president is considering candidates from within the transportation department as well.”

Quick Change in Support for Gay Marriage

A new Pew Research survey the rise in support for same-sex marriage over the past decade is among the largest changes in opinion on any policy issue over this time period.

The survey finds that “much of the shift is attributable to the arrival of a large cohort of young adults – the Millennial generation – who are far more open to gay rights than previous generations. Equally important, however, is that 14% of all Americans – and 28% of gay marriage supporters – say they have changed their minds on this issue, often because they have a family member or friend who is gay.”

Political Parties Rarely Make Big Shifts

Seth Masket: “The Democrats’ shift from being the party of white supremacy to the party of civil rights was pretty much a singular act in American political history. Parties rarely pull off a major shift on a hot-button issue (that’s what killed the Whigs in the 1850s), and indeed it was a very costly shift for the Democrats, breaking their electoral lock on the southern states and ultimately ending their four-decade run of controlling the House of Representatives. To be sure, parties do evolve slowly on some issues, but the parties are much better defined by consistency than change.”

Big Majority Supports Public Spending for Jobs

A new Gallup poll finds that public support for new federal spending to create jobs is, asGreg Sargent puts it, “simply overwhelming.”

Key findings: 72% support federal spending “to put people to work on urgent infrastructure repairs” and 72% support a “federal jobs creation law that would spend government money for a program designed to create more than 1 million new jobs.”

The Worst Memory in American Politics

After comparing his past statements to his current ones, Steve Benen gives the award to Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI).

(“Nothing is so admirable in politics as a short memory.” John Kenneth Galbraith  fvm)

Two Very Different Budgets on Track for Approval

USA Today: “Congress is on track to approve competing party-line budget blueprints as well as legislation to fund the government and prevent a shutdown March 27, but new found fiscal momentum on Capitol Hill is a temporary reprieve from the budget battles that will renew this year. The Republican-controlled House and the Democratic-controlled Senate will approve respective ten-year budget plans with vastly different views on spending, taxes and entitlement programs before adjourning for a two-week spring recess.”

GOP Opposition to Immigration Reform Weakens

“Republican opposition to legalizing the status of millions of illegal immigrants is crumbling in the nation’s capital as leading lawmakers in the party scramble to halt eroding support among Hispanic voters — a shift that is providing strong momentum for an overhaul of immigration laws,” the New York Times reports.

Wonk Wire: Prospect for immigration reform brighten.

Democrat Could Win if Sanford is Nominee

John Fund says that many believe former Gov. Mark Sanford (R) could lose the congressional special election — assuming he wins an upcoming runoff — “to a Democrat — especially a business-oriented woman such as Colbert Busch. Her platform is pitched perfectly toward moderates: protecting retirement benefits, an expansion of engineering and science education and reducing the deficit by eliminating waste.”

Said pollster Pat Caddell: “If Sanford is the final GOP candidate he could lose a 58 percent Romney district based on his weakness with women voters over the affair he had while governor.”

The Week: Is Mark Sanford vs. Stephen Colbert’s sister political gold?

Religious Right Snubbed by RNC Report

McKay Coppins: “Some leaders of the religious right are openly worried this week after a sprawling 98-page report released by the Republican National Committee on how the party can rebuild after its 2012 implosion made no mention of the GOP’s historic alliance with grassroots Christian ‘value voters.'”

“Specifically, the word ‘Christian’ does not appear once in the party’s 50,000-word blueprint for renewed electoral success. Nor does the word ‘church.’ Abortion and marriage, the two issues that most animate social conservatives, are nowhere to be found. There is nothing about the need to protect religious liberty, or promote Judeo-Christian values in society. And the few fleeting suggestions that the party coordinate with ‘faith-based communities’ — mostly in the context of minority outreach — receive roughly as much space as the need to become more “inclusive” of gays.”

Obama Asks Budget Director to Stay On

President Obama has asked Jeff Zients to stay on as acting budget director, “a move that takes him out of the running to become trade chief,” Reuters reports.

“Zients would stay in his current role until the confirmation of Sylvia Mathews Burwell, whom Obama has nominated to lead OMB.”

Rand Paul Won’t Help GOP Win Younger Voters

Nate Cohn: “While some might interpret his strength among younger voters as a sign that the GOP could benefit from a more libertarian tone, 59 percent of young voters believe that the government ‘should do more.’ Young voters are libertarian on cultural issues, but Paul is pro-life and against gay marriage. Even if young voters were libertarian on economic issues, the GOP’s small-government message attracts many of the same voters persuaded by economic libertarianism, without the cost of questionable ideas like ending the Fed. If Paul’s proposals for restraint abroad and marijuana at home would help Republicans, the party would be best served by attaching those proposals to a more traditional conservative, not Rand Paul.”

Obama Turns to Executive Power

President Obama “came into office four years ago skeptical of pushing the power of the White House to the limit, especially if it appeared to be circumventing Congress,”McClatchy reports.

“Now, as he launches his second term, Obama has grown more comfortable wielding power to try to move his own agenda forward, particularly when a deeply fractured, often-hostile Congress gets in his way.”

Crist Holds Big Lead Over Scott in Florida

A new Quinnipiac poll in Florida shows former Gov. Charlie Crist (D) tops current Gov. Rick Scott (R) by 16 points, 50% to 34% among registered voters if the 2014 election were today.

A PPP poll released yesterday found Crist with a 12 point lead.

First Read calls Scott “the most endangered governor in the country as we head into next year’s midterms.”

POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 2/27

February 27, 2013

Most See Republican Party as Out of Touch and Extreme

A new Pew Research survey finds that 62% of Americans says the Republican party is out of touch with the American people, 56% think it is not open to change and 52% say the party is too extreme.

Opinions about the Democratic Party are mixed, but the party is viewed more positively than the GOP in every dimension tested except one. Somewhat more say the Republican Party than the Democratic Party has strong principles (63% vs. 57%).

A Bitterly Divided GOP

Mark Halperin: “In the internal divisions over how to handle the end of the endgame on the sequester PR fight, the GOP is oh-so divided on what kind of legislation to offer. Lindsey Graham and a few others are suddenly born-again tax raisers. John McCain is affronted by the notion of turning spending decisions fully over to the President. And there remains a deep, subterranean fear that the White House would win the hearts-and-mind battle (big) if the current cuts kick in.”

Who Will Voters Blame?

Charlie Cook: “Now that budget sequestration seems inevitable, the remaining question is, who gets hurt? The White House and Democrats seem supremely confident that the public will cast blame on congressional Republicans. To be sure, the GOP, in its weakened condition, is blamed for virtually everything short of the weather and the flu…”

“Having said that, assuming that sequestration kicks in, with $85 billion in mandatory budget cuts pretty much across the board–exempting only Social Security, Medicaid, and, to a lesser extent, Medicare, and disproportionately hitting defense–many Americans will begin to feel some inconvenience after a few days, and a few will feel real pain. It’s only when, or if, it persists for a week or more and affects more people that impatience and annoyance will turn into anger, then rage. At that point, it becomes difficult to know whether voters will still vent these emotions exclusively at Republicans.”

No Sequester Talks Scheduled

First Read: “By the way, there are NO talks scheduled before Friday’s sequester kicks in. Just a lot of media events designed to lay the groundwork for the negotiations in March. That said, don’t be surprised, if simply for appearances sake, there is a last minute meeting at the White House before Friday — simply because both sides need to be seen as pretending to try to stop the sequester, even if there aren’t any serious proposals right now to do so.”

Boehner’s Big Bet

If the “let-the-cuts-happen” approach on the sequester seems risky, Politico notes the alternative for Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) is worse.

“Jump-start negotiations with Obama, and he would be slammed for engaging in out-of-sight, secret talks with a president his party doesn’t trust. Raise taxes, and Boehner’s courting trouble in his conference and endangering his speakership. Both are simply nonstarters.”

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) told Fox News that Boehner would lose his speakership if he agreed to a deal with the president that included new tax revenues.

Christie Will Accept Medicaid Expansion

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) will expand the state’s Medicaid program to cover 300,000 uninsured residents, the Newark Star-Ledger reports.

Christie joins Republican governors from Ohio, Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, North Dakota, Florida and New Mexico as well as Gov. Lincoln Chaffee of Rhode Island, an Independent, in embracing the larger Medicaid program.

Politico notes Christie’s “status as a potential 2016 presidential contender adds political intrigue. He’s already taken flak from fellow Republicans for heaping praise on Obama after Hurricane Sandy at a critical time in the 2012 presidential campaign.”

Christie Not Invited to CPAC

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) is not one of almost 40 featured speakers at next month’s Conservative Political Action Conference because he is “not being invited,” ABC News reports.

“The source would not answer why Christie, who is widely thought to be interested in the 2016 presidential race, would not be invited to the confab of conservative activists.”

Can Obama Put the House in Play in 2014?

Stu Rothenberg: “It’s far too early to know whether Democrats will have some, or even any, chance to win back the House next year; candidate recruitment has just begun, the number of retirements (and open seats) is uncertain and the president’s popularity more than 20 months from now is an open question. But we do know that history, as The New York Times‘ Nate Silver pointed out in a column last November, suggests that Democrats will have a very tough road to 218 seats.”

“Going back to the election of 1862, the only time the president’s party gained as many as 10 seats was, well, never. Even in 1934, the best showing by the president’s party in House elections since the Civil War, the president’s party gained only nine seats.”

Man Arrested for Threatening Lawmakers Pushing Gun Control

Police have arrested a Colorado man for sending racially and sexually offensive e-mails to state Rep. Rhonda Fields (D), “including one that said he hoped she would meet the same fate as a congresswoman who was shot in the head,” the Denver Post reports.

One of the e-mails called Fields “pathetic” and also mentioned state Rep. Beth McCann (D). It said, “Hopefully somebody Giffords both of your asses with a gun…”

The man told police he was “just voicing some frustrations” about efforts to tighten state gun laws.

GOP Lawmaker Says Cheney Will Go to Hell

Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) told a Libertarian conference over the weekend that former Vice President Dick Cheney would probably end up in hell for the Iraq War, the Huffington Postreports.

Said Jones: “Congress will not hold anyone to blame. Lyndon Johnson’s probably rotting in hell right now because of the Vietnam War, and he probably needs to move over for Dick Cheney.”

Prominent Republicans Back Gay Marriage

“Dozens of prominent Republicans — including top advisers to former President George W. Bush, four former governors and two members of Congress — have signed a legal brief arguing that gay people have a constitutional right to marry, a position that amounts to a direct challenge to Speaker John A. Boehner and reflects the civil war in the party since the November election,” the New York Times reports.

The Supreme Court next month will hear back-to-back arguments in a suit seeking to strike down Proposition 8, a California ballot initiative barring same-sex marriage, and another case that challenges the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act.”

“Legal analysts said the brief had the potential to sway conservative justices as much for the prominent names attached to it as for its legal arguments.”

POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 2/19

February 19, 2013

McDonnell Meets with Romney Finance Chief

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) “remains mum about his political future” but the Virginian-Pilot reports he recently huddled with Spencer Zwick, the finance chair for Mitt Romney’s 2008 and 2012 presidential bids.

Russian Lawmaker Found in Barrel of Cement

The body of Mikhail Pakhomov, a missing Moscow legislator and construction tycoon, “has been found in a private basement garage on the city’s outskirts, inside a rusted metal barrel filled with cement,” the New York Times reports.

Police said “he had been tortured and killed over an outstanding $80 million loan.”

“The killing recalled the brutal violence that routinely emerged from business disputes in the 1990s. Mr. Pakhomov, who was reported missing last Tuesday, was a promising young star in United Russia, the ruling party founded by President Vladimir V. Putin, and had served as head of a construction company that was reported to have won large contracts to develop utilities and infrastructure in several cities.”

Lawmaker ‘Likes’ Racy, Violent Facebook Pages

New Jersey Assemblyman Charles Mainor (D) “is in hot water again over his Facebook page, with constituents wondering if it’s appropriate for one of their state legislators to have ‘liked’ Facebook pages such as Big Bootie Freaks and another page that posts videos of physical assaults,” the Jersey Journal reports.

Mainor said “he planned to un-like the page as soon as his daughter showed him how.”

Johanns Won’t Seek Another Term

Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE) “is expected to rock the Nebraska political scene this afternoon, announcing that he will retire after his term ends in 2014,” the Omaha World-Heraldreports.

“Johanns, who is heading back to Nebraska this morning, began to make telephone calls to key supporters, letting them know of his decision, several sources said.”

Roll Call: “Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman (R) is term-limited from seeking re-election in 2014 and is considered a likely candidate in the race to replace Johanns. The governor has the right of first refusal, and if he runs he would be the ‘400-pound gorilla’ in the race… Most other Republicans would likely defer to him.”

Sink Says Another Bid for Florida Governor Unlikely

After the death of her husband, Alex Sink (D) tells the AP it’s unlikely she’ll make another bid for Florida governor.

Said Sink: “Without a husband, without the person that I relied on the most to shore me up and give me good advice. That’s changed. That’s changed everything. Right this minute, if you’re asking me, it’s off the table. I’m not prepared to say, ‘No I’m not,’ but I’m much further away from a run today than I was three months ago.”

Movie Inspires Mississippi to Finally Ratify 13th Amendment

The Clarion Ledger looks at how Mississippi finally officially ratified the 13th Amendment banning slavery this month, after a University of Mississippi professor saw the movie “Lincoln” and started digging into the history of the legislation’s ratification.

A Less Marginal Tea Party Spokesman

Hendrick Hertzberg: “This is the third year that the Republicans’ Tea Party faction has elbowed its way into the post-SOTU spotlight. Its previous spokespersons, Representative Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain, the pizza mini-mogul, were marginal cranks. Rand Paul, though a crank, is not so marginal: like Rubio, he is a member of the United States Senate, nominally subject to the disciplines of that august body’s Republican caucus.”

Rubio Heads to Israel

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), “an emerging leader in the Republican Party who is considered one of the likely candidates for the 2016 US presidential race, is scheduled to meet on Wednesday in Jerusalem with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu,” the Jerusalem Postreports.

Why Republicans Won’t Pass Obama’s Immigration Plan

Newt Gingrich admitted on ABC News that Republicans are likely to oppose any immigration reform backed by President Obama because they just don’t like him.

Said Gingrich: “I think that negotiated with a Senate immigration bill that has to have bipartisan support could actually get to the president’s desk. But an Obama plan led and driven by Obama in this atmosphere with the level of hostility towards the president and the way he goads the hostility I think is very hard to imagine that bill, that his bill is going to pass the House.”

Hillary Clinton Signs with Speaking Agency

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “will hit the paid speaking circuit this spring (likely April or May) and has selected the Harry Walker Agency, which represents President Clinton, as her agent. Industry officials expect that she will be one of the highest paid speakers in the history of the circuit, with fees well into the six figures in the United States and abroad,” Mike Allen reports.

Obama Seeks to Map the Human Brain

The Obama administration “is planning a decade-long scientific effort to examine the workings of the human brain and build a comprehensive map of its activity, seeking to do for the brain what the Human Genome Project did for genetics,” the New York Timesreports.

“The project, which the administration has been looking to unveil as early as March, will include federal agencies, private foundations and teams of neuroscientists and nanoscientists in a concerted effort to advance the knowledge of the brain’s billions of neurons and gain greater insights into perception, actions and, ultimately, consciousness.

No Easy Answers in GOP Civil War

Stu Rothenberg: “Republicans continue to argue about whether the party needs to take steps to prevent the next Christine O’Donnell, Sharron Angle, Todd Akin and Ken Buck, as well as how it might do so… The truth is that while most insiders agree about the problem, nobody has come up with an easy solution. And that’s because there isn’t a quick fix.”

“It is both true and obvious that not all uncompromising conservatives lose general elections and not all pragmatic conservatives win them. But in competitive contests and during years without a huge pro-Republican wave, the quality of candidates definitely matters. And ideological positioning is only one part of what makes a ‘quality’ nominee.”

Why Democrats Think They Can Retake the House

National Journal obtained a memo from DCCC Chairman Steve Israel (D-NY) to House Democrats which argues that the caucus “is in a stronger political position to start the 2014 campaign than in either of the last two cycles — an argument aimed at rebutting the hardening belief in Washington that House Republicans have a near-lock on their majority.”

The memo “boiled down to one theme: Republicans and their tea party allies are deeply unpopular with the public, which means that Democrats — with President Obama’s help — should be able to overcome a congressional map that leans red. Democrats, who won a net of eight seats last year, need to win another 17 more to retake the majority.”

Writes Israel: “Redistricting has empowered the worst elements of the Republican Party, amplifying the extremist echo chamber and making the tea party Republican congress toxic to voters. Republicans redrew already-safe members into even more Republican districts, driving control of their party more to their base, forcing more primaries, and making it less likely that they can put forward a party agenda that appeals to Independents.”

Foreign Governments Sponsor Travel for Staffers

According to a Washington Post examination, “more and more foreign governments are sponsoring all-expenses-paid trips to countries for lawmakers and their staffs, though an overhaul of ethics rules adopted by Congress five years ago banned them from going on most other types of free trips.”

“This overseas travel is often arranged by lobbyists for foreign governments, though lobbyists were barred from organizing other types of congressional trips out of concern that the trips could be used to buy favor. The overseas travel is covered by an exemption Congress granted itself for trips deemed to be cultural exchanges.”

POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 1/17

January 17, 2013

Fox News Hires Dennis Kucinich

Former Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) has signed on as a regular contributor to Fox News, the AP reports.

Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes said he’s “always been impressed with Kucinich’s fearlessness and thoughtfulness on the issues.”

Did the Earmark Ban Lead to Gridlock?

Businessweek suggests that banning earmarks is what caused the current Congressional gridlock.

“In the two years since, it’s done nothing but tie itself up with a supercommittee, a sequester, and continued promises to fix things in the future. Political hacks used to say pork was the political grease that lubricated legislative deals. Only now do we see how true that was. Would it really be so terrible to reintroduce some congressionally sanctioned bribery? That would let members lay claim to the odd million in the interest of striking a deal worth much more.”

Scott Backs Away from Election Law He Signed

Facing a highly critical group of black legislators, Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) distanced himself from a controversial election law that led to fewer early-voting days and long lines, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Said Scott: “It was not my bill. We’ve got to make changes, I agree… The Legislature passed it. I didn’t have anything to do with passing it.”

Scott signed the bill into law in 2011.

Crist Leads Scott by Double-Digits in Florida

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Florida finds Charlie Crist (D) would handily beat Rick Scott (R) in a race for governor, 53% to 39%.

Key findings: Scott’s approval rating is just 33%, with 57% of voters disapproving of him. Crist meanwhile is being embraced by Democrats with 52% of primary voters saying they’d like Crist to be their candidate next year.

Republicans Target 7 House Democrats

“Vowing to expand their majority, House Republicans have identified seven Democrats they consider top targets for the midterm elections,” according to a memo obtained by National Journal.

“The targeted members are Reps. Ron Barber and Ann Kirkpatrick of Arizona, John Barrow of Georgia, Jim Matheson of Utah, Mike McIntyre of North Carolina, Collin Peterson of Minnesota, and Nick Rahall of West Virginia. Each represents a district that has voted for the Republican nominee in the last three presidential elections.”

Obama Still Shuns Fox News

President Obama took no questions from Fox News at his most recent press conference and Smart Politics finds this was the norm during his first term.

“ABC reporters have been called on the most frequently during Barack Obama’s 36 solo news conferences (formal and otherwise) conducted during his first term, followed by CBS, the Associated Press, and NBC, with FOX News coming in at a distant ninth at less than half the rate of the top outlets and less than 40 percent of press conferences overall.”

Most Oppose Overturning Roe. v. Wade

As the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision approaches, a newPew Research poll finds 63% of Americans remain opposed to overturning the historic ruling on abortion, while just 29% want it reversed.

These opinions are little changed from surveys conducted 10 and 20 years ago.

Agents Ordered Not to Arrest Menendez Intern

“Federal immigration agents were prepared to arrest an illegal immigrant and registered sex offender days before the November elections but were ordered by Washington to hold off after officials warned of ‘significant interest’ from Congress and news organizations because the suspect was a volunteer intern for Sen. Robert Menendez,” the AP reports.

When the story first came to light last month, the Homeland Security Department insisted it was “categorically false.”

John Avlon: “This should all be a big story — even more so because with the appointment of John Kerry to be the next secretary of state, Senator Menendez is slated to become the chairman of the prestigious Senate Foreign Relations Committee… Given the stakes — and the combined seriousness and salaciousness of the allegations — it is stunning that the scandal has not gotten more attention.”

Hurricane Relief Passes with Minority of the Majority

Last night, the House passed legislation providing an additional $50 billion for Hurricane Sandy relief by a 241-180 vote.

But First Read points out “the real story is the vote breakdown: Only 49 Republicans voted for the measure — so just 20% of the caucus — while a whopping 179 Republicans voted against the measure. By comparison, 192 Democrats voted for the legislation, and just one (Tennessee Congressman Jim Cooper) voted against.”

So for the second time in the last two weeks, we’ve seen the House pass legislation by violating the Hastert rule.

Republicans to Try “Fool the Markets” Strategy

Reuters: “Republican lawmakers are preparing to introduce legislation to direct the U.S. Treasury to make interest payments on U.S. bonds first and then prioritize other government outlays in case Congress does not raise the debt ceiling. Supporters of the idea see it as a politically palatable alternative to default, which could rattle markets as occurred in the summer of 2011…  But critics, including some Republicans, say prioritizing payments is largely unworkable and would not fool the markets.”

Obama Gun Plan to Test Lawmakers

President Obama will start “a push for the most sweeping changes to gun laws in nearly two decades, testing whether lawmakers, including powerful members of his own party, are willing to ban the most controversial weapons and toughen requirements for prospective owners,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Flanked by children who wrote him in the aftermath of the deadly shooting spree last month at a Connecticut elementary school, Mr. Obama will call for Congress to end the sale of certain semiautomatic rifles and high-capacity ammunition magazines, and to require background checks to screen gun buyers for criminal violations and serious mental illness.”

First Read points out Obama “is going about as big as he can go, realizing there’s little political downside (at least in the short term).”

But Politico notes “there are strong indications that any comprehensive legislation restricting weapons and ammunition won’t even see a vote on the House floor.”

Majority Don’t Want Spending Cuts Linked to Debt Ceiling

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds 58% of Americans say the debt ceiling should be handled separately from the debate on spending cuts, while 36% favor linking the two.

The Wall Street Journal reports many GOP leaders “are anxious about a growing clamor among conservatives to use the need to raise the government’s $16.4 trillion debt limit as the vehicle to force spending cuts.”

The Cloakroom: Republicans getting cold feet on debt ceiling threat.

Salazar Will Leave Cabinet

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar “will step down from his cabinet position in the Obama administration and return to Colorado to spend time with his family,” the Denver Postreports.

Emanuel Ramps Up Fundraising

Chicago Tribune: “With a potential re-election bid still two years away, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is quietly accelerating his campaign fundraising, tapping donors to President Barack Obama, venture capitalists, law firms and leaders of his economic development team.”

POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 1/10

January 10, 2012

Romney Holds Double-Digit Lead in Florida

A new SurveyUSA poll in Florida shows very similar results to this morning’s Quinnipiac poll:

Mitt Romney leads with 36%, followed by Newt Gingrich at 25%, Rick Santorum at 17% and Ron Paul at 7%.

Huntsman, Paul Battle for Second in New Hampshire

A new American Research Group poll in New Hampshire finds Mitt Romney way ahead of the GOP presidential field with 37%, followed by Jon Huntsman at 18%, Ron Paul at 17%, Rick Santorum at 11%, Newt Gingrich at 10% and Rick Perry at 1%.

Romney Struggles to Handle Confrontation

Chris Cillizza: “We’ve long believed — based on direct observation of Romney and conversations with those who know him well — that the former governor’s success in a campaign setting is directly proportional to the number of rules that govern it. So, in debates and big speeches — both of which are very rule-heavy, Romney excels because he can master the rules of engagement and then execute against them. On the other end of the spectrum is stumping on the campaign trail. There is no blueprint for how to interact with voters in a diner in New Hampshire… To be clear, Romney’s struggle with confrontations hasn’t hurt him much — if at all — in the primary race to date… But you can be sure the Obama team has taken note of these Mitt-frontations and will do everything they can to poke at Romney if and when he becomes the Republican nominee.”

Time is Not on Huntsman’s Side

Nate Silver: “Mr. Santorum’s surge in the polls became apparent about 6 days before the Iowa caucuses, giving it time to become self-reinforcing. Although we were detecting a few indications of momentum for Mr. Huntsman over the weekend, it is really just now — less than 24 hours before the voting begins in Dixville Notch — that the signs of it are fairly unambiguous. Were the New Hampshire primary to take place on Friday rather than Tuesday, then Mr. Huntsman’s favorable trend might be extremely interesting, but it will probably be too little and too late.”

Pious Baloney

Newt Gingrich has a new video celebrating his memorable line from Sunday’s GOP presidential debate.

See more…

Why Romney’s Gaffe is So Damaging

Of course, Mitt Romney’s comment — “I like being able to fire people” — was taken out of context. But Brad Phillips argues it doesn’t matter.

“Gaffes that reinforce an existing narrative about a candidate are almost always the most harmful ones, and Gov. Romney is already enduring increasing attacks from opponents and Democrats alike for being more of a job ‘cremator’ than job creator during his tenure at Bain Capital.”

As Michael Kinsley once said, a “gaffe” is when a politician tells the truth.

Romney’s comment is actually quite similar to John Kerry’s, “I voted for it before I voted against it.” The context didn’t matter and the damage was done.

GOP Voters Still Not Excited About Candidates

A new Pew Research survey finds 51% of Republican and Republican-leaning voters say the GOP candidates are excellent or good, while 44% say they are only fair or poor.

The percentage expressing positive views is largely unchanged over the last six months.

Key findings: “In 2008, both Democrats and Republicans grew increasingly satisfied with the quality of the candidates for their party’s nomination as the campaign progressed. By contrast, the continued lackluster ratings offered by Republicans this year track more closely with how Democrats viewed their options in early 2004.”

Fenway Park in the Cold

Two years ago, while locked in a tight race to fill the seat of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA), Martha Coakley (D) defended her hands-off campaign style: “As opposed to standing outside Fenway Park? In the cold? Shaking hands?”

The quote epitomized how she managed to lose Kennedy’s seat to Republican Scott Brown. President Obama called it one of the “great gaffes in modern American politics.”

Over the weekend, Mother Jones reports that Elizabeth Warren (D), the leading Democrat to challenge Brown this fall, tweeted a photo of her shaking hands at Fenway Park in the cold.

Todd Palin Backs Gingrich

Sarah Palin’s husband will endorse Newt Gingrich for president, Todd Palin told ABC News.

But he said his wife has yet to decide “who is best able to go up against Barack Obama.”

The Real Danger of Super PACs

Rick Hasen: “Given the expected vast spending by presidential candidates and parties in the general election, I am not very concerned that Super PAC spending will influence the outcome of the presidential election, though it might. I am not even that concerned about Super PAC negative advertising, which can serve to educate the public and mobilize some voters to become more politically engaged.”

“But I am concerned that Super PAC spending will influence the outcome of close Senate and congressional races. And I am greatly concerned that when Election Day is over and the public will stop hearing about Super PACs, contributions to these groups will skew public policy away from the public interest and toward the interest of the new fat cats of campaign finance, as members of the House and Senate thank their friends and look over their shoulder at potential new enemies.”

Romney Still Slipping in New Hampshire

For the fifth day in a row, the Suffolk University tracking poll finds Mitt Romney has lost ground in New Hampshire, but “lack of movement by second place Ron Paul has insulated a likely Romney victory.”

Romney leads with 33%, followed by Paul at 20%, Jon Huntsman at 13%, Newt Gingrich at 11%, Rick Santorum at 10% while Rick Perry and Buddy Roemer combined for 3%.

Said pollster David Paleologos: “Mitt Romney’s biggest asset is the large number of candidates in this group that are dividing up the remainder of the vote. With just a 33 percent stake, he can control his destiny, so long as the others in his group co

When Mitt Romney Came to Town

scathing new video will be shown on South Carolina television attacking Mitt Romney “as a predatory capitalist who destroyed jobs and communities, a full-scale Republican assault on Mr. Romney’s business background,” the New York Times reports.

“The Bain-centered campaign strikes at the heart of Mr. Romney’s argument for his qualifications as president — that as a successful executive in the private sector, he learned how to create jobs — and advances an argument that President Obama’s re-election campaign has signaled it will employ aggressively against Mr. Romney.”

The video is financed by a Super PAC opposed to Romney’s presidential candidacy.

See more…

How Team Obama Views Romney

Dan Balz: “Obama’s advisers view Romney through two prisms. Through one they see a formidable opponent who can make the economic argument against the president more effectively than any of the other Republicans running and who has been disciplined in the way he has carried himself so far. Through the other, they see someone whose career in the private sector has left him vulnerable to questions about whether he can truly connect with the independent, middle-class voters who will decide the November election.”

Gingrich Rips Romney’s Business Record

In a Today Show interview, Newt Gingrich stepped up his attacks on Mitt Romney’s business record at Bain Capital.

Said Gingrich: “They apparently looted the companies, left people unemployed and walked off with millions of dollars. Look, I’m for capitalism, I’m for people who go in to save a company… if somebody comes in takes all the money out of your company, and then leaves you bankrupt while they go off with millions, that’s not traditional capitalism.”

We Have as Much as We Owe

“The soaring national debt has reached a symbolic tipping point: It’s now as big as the entire U.S. economy,” according to USA Today.

“The amount of money the federal government owes to its creditors, combined with IOUs to government retirement and other programs, now tops $15.23 trillion. That’s roughly equal to the value of all goods and services the U.S. economy produces in one year: $15.17 trillion as of September, the latest estimate. Private projections show the economy likely grew to about $15.3 trillion by December — a level the debt is likely to surpass this month.”

Why Does Santorum Blink So Much?

Smart Politics analysis of non-verbal communication patterns during Saturday’s GOP presidential debate finds that Rick Santorum blinks at a rate of 61 times per minute while speaking, which is more than twice the average rate of the remaining five members in the field.

Examining Romney’s Business Record

The Wall Street Journal examined 77 businesses Mitt Romney invested in while running Bain Capital from its 1984 start until early 1999, to see how they fared during Bain’s involvement and shortly afterward.

“Among the findings: 22% either filed for bankruptcy reorganization or closed their doors by the end of the eighth year after Bain first invested, sometimes with substantial job losses. An additional 8% ran into so much trouble that all of the money Bain invested was lost. Another finding was that Bain produced stellar returns for its investors — yet the bulk of these came from just a small number of its investments. Ten deals produced more than 70% of the dollar gains.”

The Most Boring New Hampshire Primary Ever

Walter Shapiro: “A Romney campaign appearance invites flights of fancy — not because of the poetry of the candidate’s words but because of the vacuity of the play-it-safe event… Romney’s stump speech includes a patriotic reading of stanzas from America, the Beautiful, ostensibly to prove that no one (certainly not that Europe-emulating president named Obama) can match his star-spangled patriotism. Listening to Romney, though, I was mostly inspired to recall the great Senate filibusters of yore, when exhausted legislators would read aloud fragments of poetry and pot-liquor recipes to run out the clock.”

“The sad thing — for those of us who love the spirited competition and hairpin turns of traditional New Hampshire primaries — is that Romney almost certainly will get away with his evasiveness. As a reporter chronicling his ninth New Hampshire primary (dating back to the days when George Bush boasted that he was “up for the Eighties”), I can recall no contested race in either party this devoid of energy. It feels like the primary is being conducted underwater, with every movement slow and exaggerated.”

More Independents Than Ever Before

Gallup finds that a record-high 40% of Americans identified as political independents in 2011, while 31% said they were Democrats and 27% said they were Republicans.


POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 3/11 &12

March 12, 2009

Quote of the Day

“Michael Steele’s days are numbered. Fortunately for us, his days are numbered.”

— Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D), quoted by Politico.

Blackwell Rips Steele

Former rival Ken Blackwell joins the parade of Republicans blasting RNC chief Michael Steele:

From an interview with Townhall: “Chairman Steele, as the leader of America’s Pro-Life conservative party, needs to re-read the Bible, the U.S. Constitution, and the 2008 GOP Platform. He then needs to get to work — or get out of the way.”

Important point: In their race to head the GOP, it was Blackwell’s surprise 4th round endorsement that helped push Steele to victory.

Obama Approval Remains High

A new McClatchy-Ipsos poll found that 65% of Americans approve of the way President Obama is doing his job while 29% disapprove.

Other interesting tidbit: Just 30% of Americans have a favorable opinion of talk show host Rush Limbaugh.

Pelosi Backs Away from Second Stimulus

According to CQ Politics, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who opened the door to a possible second stimulus package, said that she wanted to see how the first $787 billion stimulus package and the $410 omnibus spending law signed Wednesday play out before moving toward a new stimulus.

Weiner Steps Back from Mayoral Bid

After delivering “seemingly ironclad vows” that he would run for New York City mayor, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) “cast serious doubt on his candidacy… telling supporters that he would not decide whether to enter the race until late spring,” theNew York Times reports.

“If he leaves the field, what many had expected to be a spirited Democratic primary could dissolve into a placid affair, with William C. Thompson Jr., the city comptroller, easily winning the nomination in the fall.”

Polls suggest incumbent mayor Michael Bloomberg would crush either Weiner or Thompson in a head-to-head race.

Huckabee Rips Steele

In a statement, Mike Huckabee says the recent comments RNC Chairman Michael Steele made about abortion “are very troubling and despite his clarification today the party stands to lose many of its members and a great deal of its support in the trenches of grassroots politics.”

Meanwhile, Marc Ambinder reports Steele is meeting with former rival Katon Dawson today “to make nice.”

Murphy Gains on Tedisco in NY-20

With less than three weeks until the NY-20 special election, Scott Murphy (D) has cut James Tedisco’s 12 point lead to just 4 points, according to a new Siena Research Institute poll

Tedisco now leads the race 45% to 41%. 

Key factor: “While two weeks ago, voters said Tedisco would do a better job than Murphy representing them on six issues, Murphy now leads on two of those issues, including the most important issue for 20th C.D. voters: the economy.”

A Democratic poll yesterday also showed the race tightening.

Meanwhile, Stuart Rothenberg is calling the race a “pure tossup.”

Corzine Falls Behind Christie

Christopher Christie (R) leads New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine (D) 46% to 37%, “even though 61 percent of voters don’t know enough about the former U.S. Attorney to form an opinion of him,” according to a new Quinnipiac poll

Said pollster Clay Richards: “There are no good numbers for Gov. Jon Corzine in this poll, and since it was taken before his Draconian budget was released, his numbers could be even worse today.”

Congressional Approval Jumps Again

Gallup Poll: “Americans’ job approval rating of Congress is up an additional 8 points this month, after a 12-point increase last month, and now stands at 39% — the most positive assessment of Congress since February 2005.”

Lieberman Supports Dodd for Re-election

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) is backing Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) “in his reelection bid even though Dodd endorsed anti-war activist Ned Lamont in 2006,” The Hill reports.

Said Lieberman: “Oh yes, I’m going to support him. I think he’s been a great senator and a great colleague. We haven’t agreed on everything, but nobody does.”

poll released earlier this week showed Dodd vulnerable in his re-election race.

Steele Backs Away from Abortion Comments

RNC Chairman Michael Steele said that despite telling an interviewer he supports “individual choice” on abortion, he in fact opposes abortion and supports a Constitutional ban, Ben Smith reports.

Steele “has also been reaching out to anti-abortion leaders to damp down the controversy.”

First Read: “The interview might serve to create more room for Steele critics inside the GOP to, well, push him aside — either physically from his position, or like some Dems did with Howard Dean (to be the excuse to start up rival or alternative party building organizations).”

The Inside Man

Margaret Carlson says Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is “at his most impressive when the cameras are off.”

“Here’s Geithner’s problem: He’s an Inside Man. Inside Man has the brain of Einstein and the presence of a flea. Inside Man can’t catch a break in our telegenic age.”

Defense Lobbyist, Relatives Gave Lawmakers $1.5 Million

CQ Politics: “A defense lobbyist and his family made $1.5 million in political contributions from 2000 through 2008 as the lobbyist’s now-embattled firm helped clients win billions of dollars in federal contracts. A sizable chunk of those campaign dollars went to the House members who control Pentagon spending.”

TSA to Investigate Vitter

The Transportation Security Administration “is examining Sen. David Vitter’s much-reported decision to open the closed gateway door to his plane — even though he was warned against it by an airline worker,” reports The Hotline.

Steele Talks Abortion, Homosexuality

In an interview with GQ, RNC Chairman Michael Steele made some statements that will likely be controversial with many of his Republican constituents.

On if women have the right to choose an abortion: “Yeah. I mean, again, I think that’s an individual choice.” 

On whether homosexuality is a choice: “Oh, no. I don’t think I’ve ever really subscribed to that view, that you can turn it on and off like a water tap. Um, you know, I think that there’s a whole lot that goes into the makeup of an individual that, uh, you just can’t simply say, oh, like, ‘Tomorrow morning I’m gonna stop being gay.’ It’s like saying, ‘Tomorrow morning I’m gonna stop being black.'”

Obama, Geithner Get Low Marks from Economists

President Obama and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner received failing grades for their efforts to revive the economy from participants in the latest Wall Street Journal forecasting survey.”

“On average, they gave the president a grade of 59 out of 100, and although there was a broad range of marks, 42% of respondents rated Mr. Obama below 60. Mr. Geithner received an average grade of 51. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke scored better, with an average 71.”

Dawson Says He’s Not Seeking No Confidence Vote

Katon Dawson insists to the National Review that he’s not agitating for a no-confidence vote on the RNC Chairman as some GOP insiders claim

I support Michael Steele. Our Committee elected him knowing that he can lead us during this critical time for our Party. The people behind this anonymous rumor are clearly intent on dividing the Republican National Committee and our Party at a time when we need to be united.”

Nonetheless, Jim Geraghty is hearing the same rumors from “former RNC staffers.”

Steele Likens Republican Critics to “Scurrying Mice”

Cal Thomas quotes RNC Chairman Michael Steele ripping into his Republican critics while explaining “he is in stage two of a two-stage process to reform and transform the Republican Party.” 

Said Steele: “The mice who are scurrying about the Hill are upset because they no longer have access to the cheese, so they don’t know what’s going on.”

John Aravosis: “Sounds like stage two of a two-stage process to get himself fired… The man seems to have a political death wish. We’ll see if he survives this one.”

Limbaugh Drags Down GOP

A new Democracy Corps poll shows that talk radio host Rush Limbaugh “weighs down heavily on an already weakened Republican Party — putting Republican leaders and their party’s conservative base voters out of sync with not only Democrats and independents, but even the bloc of moderate Republicans.”

“Remarkably, voters view Limbaugh negatively by a two-to-one ratio (53 to 26 percent), with nearly half the country, 45 percent, viewing him very, very negatively. Among independents, the ratio rises to three-to-one.”

NY-20 Race Tightening

Benenson Strategy Group (D) poll shows the NY-20 special election race getting closer with Jim Tedisco (R) holding a seven point lead, 44% to 37%, over Scott Murphy (D).

One potential problem for Tedisco: Libertarian Eric Sundwall, who the Schenectady Daily Gazette reports petitioned to get on the ballot, received 4% support in the poll.

Vitter Blows Top at Airport

Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) made quite a scene at Washington’s Dulles airport last week when trying to catch a flight home, reports Roll Call

The Louisiana senator arrived at his gate to find it already closed and then “opened the door, setting off a security alarm and prompting an airline worker to warn him that entering the gate was forbidden.” Vitter “gave the airline worker an earful, employing the timeworn ‘do-you-know-who-I-am’ tirade that apparently grew quite heated.” 

However, when the worker left to find a security guard, Vitter “turned tail and simply fled the scene.” 

Update: Vitter told the New Orleans Times Picayune that he “accidently” went through the wrong door which set off the alarm and dismissed the rest of the account as “silly gossip.”

Mayoral Candidate Fudges Education Record

Detroit mayoral candidate and former NBA great Dave Bing “has retracted his claim that he earned a master’s degree in business administration but says he doesn’t see it as a ‘big issue,'” the AP reports.

But the Detroit Free Press finds more false claims: “Bing, who has claimed he completed college in four years, actually took nearly three decades to get his degree from Syracuse University.”

Demographics Tilt Against Specter

According to election data tabulated by Roll Call, Sen. Arlen Specter’s (R-PA) suburban Philadelphia base “has seen the sharpest drop in Republican registrations in the state — numbers that collectively exceed his margin of victory over Pat Toomey in the 2004 Republican primary.”

“A simultaneous spike in Democratic enrollment likely means that moderate Republicans switched their registrations over the past four years. The result is bad math for Specter, who will likely face a more conservative GOP electorate in the 2010 primary than he did in 2004.”

Edwards Talks, But Not About Affair

John Edwards “took another tentative step into the public spotlight,” the Raleigh News and Observer reports, “speaking at Brown University about extreme poverty around the world and urging Americans to get involved in what he called a ‘fundamental moral issue.'” 

Edwards “has struggled to get his message heard since a scandal about an affair he had with a former campaign staffer enveloped his personal life.” 

Meanwhile, the National Enquirer, which broke the story about the Edwards affair, says the former senator has admitted to his wife that he’s the father of the baby born to his former mistress.

Becoming McCain

Great observation from First Read: “When it comes to today’s topic du jour — legislative earmarks — it’s fascinating how the political world turned President Obama into… John McCain. That’s right, for those of us who followed the two-year-long presidential campaign, it was McCain who crusaded against earmarks, not Obama (who instead said he would work to reform the process and make it more transparent). In fact, had earmarks been the public’s top concern in November, the Arizona senator probably would have won the election. But, as we all know, it wasn’t.” 

Nonetheless, later this morning Obama “will make an announcement on earmark reform, which comes after the Senate last night passed its $410 billion omnibus spending bill that contains $7.7 billion (or less than 2%) in earmarks.” 

But CQ Politics notes congressional Republicans face an important obstacle in the earmark fight: themselves.

Former Aides Keep Boosting Bush

Even though former President Bush “is keeping quiet in Texas before heading out on a lucrative speaking tour,” Politicoreports that “an informal network of former aides is keeping his views in the political bloodstream, defending his legacy in TV appearances and backgrounding reporters about his record.”

Pelosi Says Second Stimulus Plan May Be Needed

CQ Politics: “Speaker Nancy Pelosi opened the door to the possibility of another stimulus plan — or bank rescue — following a Tuesday meeting with dozens of Democratic members that was attended by a panel of four prominent economists.”

One reason: House Democrats fear the recovery may take too long.

AMERICAN REINVESTMENT ACT

January 22, 2009

Following is the piece of legislation covering the “stimulus “. The first couple of pages are an Executive Summary, followed by the complete body of the act.

COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS 

DAVE OBEY (D-WI), CHAIRMAN 

For Immediate Release 

Thursday, January 15, 2009 

Contact: Kirstin Brost, 202-225-2771 

 

SUMMARY: AMERICAN RECOVERY AND REINVESTMENT 

Action and Action Now!  

The economy is in a crisis not seen since the Great Depression. 

Credit is frozen, consumer purchasing power is in decline, in the last four months the country has lost 2 million jobs and we are expected to lose another 3 to 5 million in the next year.  Conservative economist Mark Zandi was blunt: “the economy is shutting down.” 

In the next two weeks, the Congress will be considering the American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009.  This package is the first crucial step in a concerted effort to create and save 3 to 4 million jobs, jumpstart our economy, and begin the process of transforming it for the 21st century with $275 billion in economic recovery tax cuts and $550 billion in thoughtful and carefully targeted priority investments with unprecedented accountability measures built in. 

The package contains targeted efforts in:  

Clean, Efficient, American Energy 

Transforming our Economy with Science and Technology 

Modernizing Roads, Bridges, Transit and Waterways 

Education for the 21st Century 

Tax Cuts to Make Work Pay and Create Jobs 

Lowering Healthcare Costs  

Helping Workers Hurt by the Economy  

Saving Public Sector Jobs and Protect Vital Services 

The economy is in such trouble that, even with passage of this package, unemployment rates are expected to rise to between eight and nine percent this year.  Without this package, we are warned that unemployment could explode to near twelve percent.  With passage of this package, we will face a large deficit for years to come.  Without it, those deficits will be devastating and we face the risk of economic chaos.  Tough choices have been made in this legislation and fiscal discipline will demand more tough choices in years to come.  

Since 2001, as worker productivity went up, 96% of the income growth in this country went to the wealthiest 10% of society.  While they were benefitting from record high worker productivity, the remaining 90% of Americans were struggling to sustain their standard of living.  They sustained it by borrowing… and borrowing… and borrowing, and when they couldn’t borrow anymore, the bottom fell out.  This plan will strengthen the middle class, not just Wall Street CEOs and special interests in Washington.   

Our short term task is to try to prevent the loss of millions of jobs and get our economy moving.  The long term task is to make the needed investments that restore the ability of average middle income families to increase their income and build a decent future for their children.  

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY  

Unprecedented Accountability:  A historic level of transparency, oversight and accountability will help guarantee taxpayer dollars are spent wisely and Americans can see results for their investment.   

In many instances funds are distributed through existing formulas to programs with proven track records and accountability measures already in place. 

How funds are spent, all announcements of contract and grant competitions and awards, and formula grant allocations must be posted on a special website created by the President.  Program managers will also be listed so the public knows who to hold accountable. 

Public notification of funding must include a description of the investment funded, the purpose, the total cost and why the activity should be funded with recovery dollars.  Governors, mayors or others making funding decisions must personally certify that the investment has been fully vetted and is an appropriate use of taxpayer dollars.  This will also be placed on the recovery website. 

A Recovery Act Accountability and Transparency Board will be created to review management of recovery dollars and provide early warning of problems.  The seven member board includes Inspectors General and 

Deputy Cabinet secretaries.  

The Government Accountability Office and the Inspectors General are provided additional funding and access for special review of recovery funding.  

Federal and state whistleblowers who report fraud and abuse are protected. 

There are no earmarks in this package. 

 This plan targets investments to key areas that will create and preserve good jobs at the same time as it is strengthening the ability of this economy to become more efficient and produce more opportunities for employment. 

Clean, Efficient, American Energy: To put people back to work today and reduce our dependence on foreign oil tomorrow, we will strengthen efforts directed at doubling renewable energy production and renovate public buildings to make them more energy efficient.   

$32 billion to transform the nation’s energy transmission, distribution, and production systems by allowing for a smarter and better grid and focusing investment in renewable technology. 

$16 billion to repair public housing and make key energy efficiency retrofits.  

$6 billion to weatherize modest-income homes.  

Transform our Economy with Science and Technology:  We need to put scientists to work looking for the next great discovery, creating jobs in cutting-edge-technologies, and making smart investments that will help businesses in every community succeed in a global economy.  For every dollar invested in broadband the economy sees a ten-fold return on that investment.     

$10 billion for science facilities, research, and instrumentation. 

$6 billion to expand broadband internet access so businesses in rural and other underserved areas can link up to the global economy. 

Modernize Roads, Bridges, Transit and Waterways: To build a 21st century economy, we must engage contractors across the nation to create jobs rebuilding our crumbling roads, and bridges, modernize public buildings, and put people to work cleaning our air, water and land. 

$30 billion for highway construction; 

$31 billion to modernize federal and other public infrastructure with investments that lead to long term energy cost savings;  

$19 billion for clean water, flood control, and environmental restoration investments;  

$10 billion for transit and rail to reduce traffic congestion and gas consumption.  

Education for the 21st Century: To enable more children to learn in 21st century classrooms, labs, and libraries to help our kids compete with any worker in the world, this package provides: 

$41 billion to local school districts through Title I ($13 billion), IDEA ($13 billion), a new School Modernization and Repair Program ($14 billion), and the Education Technology program ($1 billion). 

$79 billion in state fiscal relief to prevent cutbacks to key services, including $39 billion to local school districts and public colleges and universities distributed through existing state and federal formulas, $15 billion to states as bonus grants as a reward for meeting key performance measures, and $25 billion to states for other high priority needs such as public safety and other critical services, which may include education. 

$15.6 billion to increase the Pell grant by $500. 

$6 billion for higher education modernization.  

Tax Cuts to Make Work Pay and Create Jobs:  We will provide direct tax relief to 95 percent of American workers, and spur investment and job growth for American Businesses.  [marked up by the Ways and Means Committee] 

Lower Healthcare Costs: To save not only jobs, but money and lives, we will update and computerize our healthcare system to cut red tape, prevent medical mistakes, and help reduce healthcare costs by billions of dollars each year.  

$20 billion for health information technology to prevent medical mistakes, provide better care to patients and introduce cost-saving efficiencies. 

$4.1 billion to provide for preventative care and to evaluate the most effective healthcare treatments. 

Help Workers Hurt by the Economy:  High unemployment and rising costs have outpaced Americans’ paychecks.  We will help workers train and find jobs, and help struggling families make ends meet. 

$43 billion for increased unemployment benefits and job training.   

$39 billion to support those who lose their jobs by helping them to pay the cost of keeping their employer provided healthcare under COBRA and providing short-term options to be covered by Medicaid. 

$20 billion to increase the food stamp benefit by over 13% in order to help defray rising food costs.   

Save Public Sector Jobs and Protect Vital Services: We will provide relief to states, so they can continue to employ teachers, firefighters and police officers and provide vital services without having to unnecessarily raise middle class taxes.  

$87 billion for a temporary increase in the Medicaid matching rate. 

$4 billion for state and local law enforcement funding. 

CREATE JOBS WITH CLEAN, EFFICIENT, AMERICAN ENERGY 

To put people back to work today and reduce our dependence on foreign oil tomorrow, we will make investments aimed at doubling renewable energy production and renovate public buildings to make them more energy efficient.  America’s energy shortcomings present a huge opportunity to put people to work in ways that will transform our economy. 

Reliable, Efficient Electricity Grid: $11 billion for research and development, pilot projects, and federal matching funds for the Smart Grid Investment Program to modernize the electricity grid making it more efficient, secure, and reliable and build new power lines to transmit clean, renewable energy from sources throughout the nation.  

Renewable Energy Loan Guarantees: $8 billion for loans for renewable energy power generation and transmission projects. 

GSA Federal Buildings: $6.7 billion for renovations and repairs to federal buildings including at least $6 billion focused on increasing energy efficiency and conservation.  Projects are selected based on GSA’s ready-to-go priority list.   

Local Government Energy Efficiency Block Grants: $6.9 billion to help state and local governments make investments that make them more energy efficient and reduce carbon emissions.   

Energy Efficiency Housing Retrofits: $2.5 billion for a new program to upgrade HUD sponsored low-income housing to increase energy efficiency, including new insulation, windows, and furnaces.  Funds will be competitively awarded. 

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Research: $2 billion for energy efficiency and renewable energy research, development, demonstration, and deployment activities to foster energy independence, reduce carbon emissions, and cut utility bills.  Funds are awarded on a competitive basis to universities, companies, and national laboratories.  

Advanced Battery Loans and Grants: $2 billion for the Advanced Battery Loan Guarantee and Grants Program, to support U.S. manufacturers of advanced vehicle batteries and battery systems.  America should lead the world in transforming the way automobiles are powered. 

Energy Efficiency Grants and Loans for Institutions: $1.5 billion for energy sustainability and efficiency grants and loans to help school districts, institutes of higher education, local governments, and municipal utilities implement projects that will make them more energy efficient.   

Home Weatherization: $6.2 billion to help low-income families reduce their energy costs by weatherizing their homes and make our country more energy efficient. 

Smart Appliances: $300 million to provide consumers with rebates for buying energy efficient Energy Star products to replace old appliances, which will lower energy bills. 

GSA Federal Fleet: $600 million to replace older vehicles owned by the federal government with alternative fuel automobiles that will save on fuel costs and reduce carbon emissions.   

Electric Transportation: $200 million for a new grant program to encourage electric vehicle technologies.  

Cleaning Fossil Energy: $2.4 billion for carbon capture and sequestration technology demonstration projects. This funding will provide valuable information necessary to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere from industrial facilities and fossil fuel power plants. 

Department of Defense Research: $350 million for research into using renewable energy to power weapons systems and military bases. 

Alternative Buses and Trucks: $400 million to help state and local governments purchase efficient alternative fuel vehicles to reduce fuel costs and carbon emissions. 

Industrial Energy Efficiency: $500 million for energy efficient manufacturing demonstration projects. 

Diesel Emissions Reduction: $300 million for grants and loans to state and local governments for projects that reduce diesel emissions, benefiting public health and reducing global warming.  This includes technologies to retrofit emission exhaust systems on school buses, replace engines and vehicles, and establish anti-idling programs.  70% of the funds go to competitive grants and 30% funds grants to states with approved programs.   

Last year EPA was able to fund only 27% of the applications received.     

TRANSFORMING OUR ECONOMY WITH SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY 

We need to put scientists to work looking for the next great discovery, creating jobs in cutting-edge technologies and making smart investments that will help businesses in every community succeed in a global economy.   

Broadband to Give Every Community Access to the Global Economy 

Wireless and Broadband Grants: $6 billion for broadband and wireless services in underserved areas to strengthen the economy and provide business and job opportunities in every section of America with benefits to e-commerce, education, and healthcare.  For every dollar invested in broadband the economy sees a ten-fold return on that investment. 

Scientific Research 

National Science Foundation: $3 billion, including $2 billion for expanding employment opportunities in fundamental science and engineering to meet environmental challenges and to improve global economic competitiveness, $400 million to build major research facilities that perform cutting edge science, $300 million for major research equipment shared by institutions of higher education and other scientists, $200 million to repair and modernize science and engineering research facilities at the nation’s institutions of higher education and other science labs, and $100 million is also included to improve instruction in science, math and engineering. 

National Institutes of Health Biomedical Research: $2 billion, including $1.5 billion for expanding good jobs in biomedical research to study diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cancer, and heart disease – NIH is currently able to fund less than 20% of approved applications – and $500 million to implement the repair and improvement strategic plan developed by the NIH for its campuses. 

University Research Facilities: $1.5 billion for NIH to renovate university research facilities and help them compete for biomedical research grants.  The National Science Foundation estimates a maintenance backlog of $3.9 billion in biological science research space.  Funds are awarded competitively. 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: $462 million to enable CDC to complete its Buildings and Facilities Master Plan, as well as renovations and construction needs of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.     

Department of Energy: $1.9 billion for basic research into the physical sciences including high-energy physics, nuclear physics, and fusion energy sciences and improvements to DOE laboratories and scientific facilities. $400 million is for the Advanced Research Project Agency – Energy to support high-risk, high- payoff research into energy sources and energy efficiency.   

NASA:  $600 million, including $400 million to put more scientists to work doing climate change research, including Earth science research recommended by the National Academies, satellite sensors that measure solar radiation critical to understanding climate change, and a thermal infrared sensor to the Landsat Continuing Mapper necessary for water management, particularly in the western states; $150 million for research, development, and demonstration to improve aviation safety and Next Generation air traffic control (NextGen); and $50 million to repair NASA centers damaged by hurricanes and floods last year.  

Biomedical Advanced Research and Development, Pandemic Flu, and Cyber Security:  $900 million to prepare for a pandemic influenza, support advanced development of medical countermeasures for chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats, and for cyber security protections at HHS.   

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Satellites and Sensors: $600 million for satellite development and acquisitions, including climate sensors and climate modeling.    

National Institute of Standards and Technology: $300 million for competitive construction grants for research science buildings at colleges, universities, and other research organizations and $100 million to coordinate research efforts of laboratories and national research facilities by setting interoperability standards for manufacturing. 

Agricultural Research Service: $209 million for agricultural research facilities across the country. ARS has a list of deferred maintenance work at facilities of roughly $315 million.   

U.S. Geological Survey: $200 million to repair and modernize U.S.G.S. science facilities and equipment, including improvements to laboratories, earthquake monitoring systems, and computing capacity.  

Creating Small Business Opportunity 

Small Business Credit: $430 million for new direct lending and loan guarantee authorities to make loans more attractive to lenders and free up capital.  The number of loans guaranteed under the SBA’s 7(a) business loan program was down 57% in the first quarter of this year compared to last.   

Rural Business-Cooperative Service: $100 million for rural business grants and loans to guarantee $2 billion in loans for rural businesses at a time of unprecedented demand due to the credit crunch.  Private sector lenders are increasingly turning to this program to help businesses get access to capital.   

Industrial Technology Services: $100 million, including $70 million for the Technology Innovation Program to accelerate research in potentially revolutionary technologies with high job growth potential, and $30 million for the Manufacturing Extension Partnerships to help small and mid-size manufacturers compete globally by providing them with access to technology. 

Economic Development Assistance: $250 million to address long-term economic distress in urban industrial cores and rural areas distributed based on need and ability to create jobs and attract private investment.  EDA leverages $10 in private investments for $1 in federal funds.   

DTV Conversion Coupons:  $650 million to continue the coupon program to enable American households to convert from analog television transmission to digital transmission. 

MODERNIZE ROADS, BRIDGES, TRANSIT AND WATERWAYS  

To build a 21st century economy, we must engage contractors across the nation to create jobs  – rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, modernizing public buildings, and putting people to work cleaning our air, water, and land. 

Highway Infrastructure: $30 billion for highway and bridge construction projects.   It is estimated that states have over 5,100 projects totaling over $64 billion that could be awarded within 180 days.  These projects create jobs in the short term while saving commuters time and money in the long term.  In 2006, the Department of Transportation estimated $8.5 billion was needed to maintain current systems and $61.4 billion was needed to improve highways and bridges.   

Transit:  Public transportation saves Americans time and money, saving as much as 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline and reducing carbon emissions by 37 million metric tons each year.    

New Construction: $1 billion for Capital Investment Grants for new commuter rail or other light rail systems to increase public use of mass transit and to speed projects already in construction.  The Federal Transit Administration has $2.4 billion in pre-approved projects.  

Upgrades and Repair: $2 billion to modernize existing transit systems, including renovations to stations, security systems, computers, equipment, structures, signals, and communications.   Funds will be distributed through the existing formula.  The repair backlog is nearly $50 billion.   

Transit Capital Assistance: $6 billion to purchase buses and equipment needed to increase public transportation and improve intermodal and transit facilities.  The Department of Transportation estimates a $3.2 billion maintenance backlog and $9.2 billion in needed improvements. The American Public Transportation Association identified 787 ready-to-go transit projects totaling $15.5 billion.  Funds will be distributed through the existing formulas.     

Amtrak and Intercity Passenger Rail Construction Grants: $1.1 billion to improve the speed and capacity of intercity passenger rail service.  The Department of Transportation’s Inspector General estimates the North East Corridor alone has a backlog of over $10 billion.  

Airport Improvement Grants: $3 billion for airport improvement projects that will improve safety and reduce congestion.  An estimated $41 billion in eligible airport infrastructure projects are needed between 2007-2011. 

Transportation Security Administration Explosive Detection Systems: $500 million to install Aviation Explosive Detection Systems in the nation’s airports, improving security, and making life easier on travelers by speeding security lines.  Funds are competitively awarded based on security risk.

Coast Guard Bridges: $150 million for ready-to-go investments to repair or remove bridges deemed hazardous to marine navigation, thereby removing obstructions and improving the safety of marine navigation. 

Technology Improvements for a More Efficient and Secure Government 

Social Security Administration Modernization: $400 million to replace the 30 year old Social Security Administration’s National Computer Center to meet growing needs for processing retirement and disability claims and records storage.   

Farm Service Agency: $245 million for critical IT improvements to systems that have been unable to handle workload increases. 

State Department Technology: $276 million to upgrade and modernize information technology platforms for the Department to meet security requirements post-9/11.  

Department of Agriculture: $44 million for repairs and security improvements at USDA’s headquarters.  

Department of Defense Facilities 

Medical Facilities: $3.75 billion for new construction of hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers, and 

$455 million in renovations to provide state-of-the-art medical care to service members and their families.   

Facilities Renovations: $2.1 billion to address needed repairs to military facilities. 

Troop Housing: $1.2 billion for new construction and $154 million for renovations to improve housing for our troops. 

Child Development Center: $360 million for new child development centers. 

Guard and Reserve: $400 million for new construction to support Guard and Reserve units across the country with operations and training facilities and utilities infrastructure.   

Veterans Administration Facilities 

Veterans Medical Facilities: $950 million for veterans’ medical facilities.  The Department has identified a $5 billion backlog in needed repairs, including energy efficiency projects, at its 153 medical facilities.   

Veterans Cemeteries: $50 million to put people to work making monument and memorial repairs at cemeteries for American heroes. 

Border Ports of Entry: $1.15 billion to construct GSA and Customs and Border Patrol land ports of entry to improve border security, make trade and travel easier and reduce wait times, and to procure non-intrusive inspection technology at sea ports of entry, which is used to scan cargo containers to reduce the risk that containers can be used to smuggle weapons of mass destruction.   

Job Corps Facilities: $300 million to upgrade job training facilities serving at-risk youth while improving energy efficiency.   

Construction on Public Lands and Parks: $3.1 billion for infrastructure projects on federal lands including improvements to visitor facilities, road and trail restoration, preservation of buildings of cultural and historic importance, rehabilitation of abandoned mines and oil fields, and environmental cleanup projects.  This includes $1.8 billion for the National Park Service, $325 million for the Bureau of Land Management, $300 million for the National Wildlife Refuges and National Fish Hatcheries, and $650 million for the Forest Service. 

National Treasures: $400 million, including $200 million to address the deterioration of the National Mall, such as repair of the Jefferson Memorial’s collapsing Tidal Basin walls; $150 million to address the repair backlog at the Smithsonian; and $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts. 

Clean Water 

Clean Water State Revolving Fund: $6 billion for loans to help communities upgrade wastewater treatment systems.  EPA estimates a $388 billion funding gap.   The Association of State and Interstate Water Pollution Control Administrators found that 26 states have $10 billion in approved water projects.   

Drinking Water State Revolving Fund: $2 billion for loans for drinking water infrastructure.  EPA estimates there is a $274 billion funding gap.  The National Governors Association reported that there are $6 billion in ready-to-go projects, which could quickly be obligated.   

Rural Water and Waste Disposal: $1.5 billion to support $3.8 billion in grants and loans to help communities fund drinking water and wastewater treatment systems.  In 2008, there were $2.4 billion in requests for water and waste loans and $990 million for water and waste grants went unfunded.  

Water Resources 

Corps of Engineers: $4.5 billion for environmental restoration, flood protection, hydropower, and navigation infrastructure critical to the economy.  The Corps has a construction backlog of $61 billion.   

Bureau of Reclamation: $500 million to provide clean, reliable drinking water to rural areas and to ensure adequate water supply to western localities impacted by drought.  The Bureau has backlogs of more than $1 billion in rural water projects and water reuse and recycling projects. 

Watershed Infrastructure: $400 million for the Natural Resources Conservation Service watershed improvement programs to design and build flood protection and water quality projects, repair aging dams, and purchase and restore conservation easements in river flood zones.  

International Boundary and Water Commission: $224 million to repair flood control systems along the international segment of the Rio Grande damaged by hurricane Katrina and other serious storms.  

Environmental Cleanup 

Superfund Hazardous Waste Cleanup: $800 million to clean up hazardous and toxic waste sites that threaten health and the environment.  EPA has 1,255 sites on its National Priority List, selected based on a hazard ranking system.   There are many Superfund sites ready for construction, but not funded due to budget shortfalls and over 600 sites with ongoing construction that could be accelerated. 

Leaking Underground Storage Tanks: $200 million for enforcement and cleanup of petroleum leaks from underground storage tanks at approximately 1,600 additional sites.  There are an estimated 116,000 sites with the potential to contaminate important water supplies.  

Nuclear Waste Cleanup: $500 million for nuclear waste cleanup at sites contaminated as a result of the nation’s past nuclear activities. Accelerating the completion of projects will reduce long-term costs. 

Closed Military Bases: $300 million for cleanup activities at closed military installations allowing local communities to redevelop these properties for productive use.  The Department estimates that there is a $3.5 billion environmental cleanup backlog at bases closed during previous BRAC rounds.  

NOAA Habitat Restoration: $400 million for ready-to-go habitat restoration projects. 

Brownfields:  $100 million for competitive grants for evaluation and cleanup of former industrial and commercial sites – turning them from problem properties to productive community use.  Last year EPA was only able to fund 37% of Brownfields applications.  

Reducing Wildfires Threats: $850 million for hazardous fuels removal and other efforts to prevent wildfires on public lands.  Making these investments today will create jobs in the short run, but also save long term costs of fighting fires in the future.   

State and Private Forest Service Wildfire: $550 million for state and local volunteer programs and hazardous fuels reduction efforts which states and communities have determined are of the highest priority.   

Federal Forest Service Wildfire: $300 million for urgently needed hazard reduction on federal lands.   

Bureau of Indian Affairs: $500 million to address maintenance backlogs at schools, dams, detention and law enforcement facilities, and over 24,000 miles of roads.  BIA schools alone have an over $1 billion construction and maintenance backlog including shamefully unsafe conditions.  

EDUCATION FOR THE 21st CENTURY 

We will put people to work building 21st century classrooms, labs, and libraries to help our kids compete with any worker in the world. 

21st Century Classrooms 

School Construction: $20 billion, including $14 billion for K-12 and $6 billion for higher education, for  renovation and modernization, including technology upgrades and energy efficiency improvements.  Also includes $100 million for school construction in communities that lack a local property tax base because they contain non-taxable federal lands such as military bases or Indian reservations, and $25 million to help charter schools build, obtain, and repair schools.  

Education Technology: $1 billion for 21st century classrooms, including computer and science labs and teacher technology training. 

Higher Education: Tuition is up, unemployment is up, and as a result more people are choosing to go to school to upgrade their skills and more of these students need student aid.  This investment addresses those short term needs while investing in our nation’s future economic strength. 

Pell Grants: $15.6 billion to increase the maximum Pell Grant by $500, from $4,850 to $5,350.   

College Work-Study: $490 million to support undergraduate and graduate students who work.   

Student Loan Limit Increase: Increases limits on unsubsidized Stafford loans by $2,000. 

Student Aid Administration: $50 million to help the Department of Education administer surging student aid programs while navigating the changing student loan environment.  

K-12 Education: As states begin tackling a projected $350 billion in budget shortfalls these investments will prevent cuts to critical education programs and services. 

IDEA Special Education: $13 billion for formula grants to increase the federal share of special education costs and prevent these mandatory costs from forcing states to cut other areas of education. 

Title I Help for Disadvantaged Kids: $13 billion for grants to help disadvantaged kids in nearly every school district and more than half of all public schools reach high academic standards. 

Statewide Data Systems: $250 million for competitive grants to states to design and develop data systems that analyze individual student data to find ways to improve student achievement, providing teachers and administrators with effective tools. 

Education for Homeless Children and Youth: $66 million for formula grants to states to provide services to homeless children including meals and transportation when high unemployment and home foreclosures have created an influx of homeless kids. 

  Improving Teacher Quality: $300 million, including $200 million for competitive grants to school districts and states to provide financial incentives for teachers and principals who raise student achievement and close the achievement gaps in high-need schools and $100 million for competitive grants to states to address teacher shortages and modernize the teaching workforce. 

Early Childhood Development 

Child Care Development Block Grant: $2 billion to provide child care services for an additional 300,000 children in low-income families while their parents go to work.  Today only one out of seven eligible children receives care.   

Head Start: $2.1 billion to provide comprehensive development services to help 110,000 additional children succeed in school.  Funds are distributed based on need.  Only about half of all eligible preschoolers and less than 3 percent of eligible infants and toddlers participate in Head Start.   

IDEA Infants and Families: $600 million for formula grants to help states serve children with disabilities age 2 and younger.    

LOWER HEALTHCARE COSTS  

To save not only jobs, but money and lives, we will update and computerize our healthcare system to cut red tape, prevent medical mistakes, and help reduce healthcare costs by billions of dollars each year.   

Health Information Technology: $20 billion to jumpstart efforts to computerize health records to cut costs and reduce medical errors.   

Prevention and Wellness Fund: $3 billion to fight preventable chronic diseases, the leading cause of deaths in the U.S., and infectious diseases.  Preventing disease rather than treating illnesses is the most effective way to reduce healthcare costs.  This includes hospital infection prevention, Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grants for state and local public health departments, immunization programs, and evidence-based disease prevention.   

Healthcare Effectiveness Research: $1.1 billion for Healthcare Research and Quality programs to compare the effectiveness of different medical treatments funded by Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP.  Finding out what works best and educating patients and doctors will improve treatment and save taxpayers money.   

Community Health Centers: $1.5 billion, including $500 million to increase the number of uninsured Americans who receive quality healthcare and $1 billion to renovate clinics and make health information technology improvements.  More than 400 applications submitted earlier this year for new or expanded CHC sites remain unfunded.  

Training Primary Care Providers: $600 million to address shortages and prepare our country for universal healthcare by training primary healthcare providers including doctors, dentists, and nurses as well as helping pay medical school expenses for students who agree to practice in underserved communities through the National Health Service Corps. 

Indian Health Service Facilities: $550 million to modernize aging hospitals and health clinics and make healthcare technology upgrades to improve healthcare for underserved rural populations. 

HELP WORKERS HURT BY THE ECONOMY 

High unemployment and rising costs have outpaced Americans’ paychecks.  We will help workers train and find jobs, and help struggling families make ends meet. 

Helping Workers Find Jobs 

Training and Employment Services: $4 billion for job training including formula grants for adult, dislocated worker, and youth services (including $1.2 billion to create up to one million summer jobs for youth). The needs of workers also will be met through dislocated worker national emergency grants, new competitive grants for worker training in high growth and emerging industry sectors (with priority consideration to “green” jobs and healthcare), and increased funds for the YouthBuild program.  Green jobs training will include preparing workers for activities supported by other economic recovery funds, such as retrofitting of buildings, green construction, and the production of renewable electric power. 

Vocational Rehabilitation State Grants: $500 million for state formula grants for construction and rehabilitation of facilities to help persons with disabilities prepare for gainful employment.  

Employment Services Grants: $500 million to match unemployed individuals to job openings through state employment service agencies and allow states to provide customized services.  Funds are targeted to states with the greatest need based on labor force, unemployment, and long-term unemployed rates. 

Community Service Employment for Older Americans:  $120 million to provide subsidized community service jobs to an additional 24,000 low-income older Americans.  

Unemployment Insurance Benefits 

Benefits Extension: $27 billion to continue the current extended unemployment benefits program – which provides up to 33 weeks of extended benefits – through December 31, 2009 given rising unemployment.  

Increased Benefits: $9 billion to increase the current average unemployment insurance benefit from roughly $300 per week, paid out of State trust funds, by $25 per week using Federal funds, through December 2009.  There are currently 5.3 million workers receiving regular UI and an additional 1.9 million receiving extended benefits. 

Unemployment Insurance Modernization: Provides funds to states though a “Reed Act” distribution, tied to states’ meeting specific reforms to increase unemployment insurance coverage for low-wage, part-time, and other jobless workers.   

COBRA Healthcare for the Unemployed: $30.3 billion to extend health insurance coverage to the unemployed, extending the period of COBRA coverage for older and tenured workers beyond the 18 months provided under current law.  Specifically, workers 55 and older, and workers who have worked for an employer for 10 or more years will be able to retain their COBRA coverage until they become Medicare eligible or secure coverage through a subsequent employer.  In addition, subsidizing the first 12 months of COBRA coverage for eligible persons who have lost their jobs on or after September 1, 2008 at a 65 percent subsidy rate, the same rate provided under the Health Care Tax Credit for unemployed workers under the Trade Adjustment Assistance program.  [Ways and Means]  

Medicaid Coverage for the Unemployed: $8.6 billion to provide 100 percent Federal funding through 2010 for optional State Medicaid coverage of individuals (and their dependents) who are involuntarily unemployed and whose family income does not exceed a State-determined level, but is no higher than 200 percent of poverty, or who are receiving food stamps.    

Attacking the Housing Crisis 

Public Housing Capital Fund: $5 billion for building repair and modernization, including critical safety repairs.  Every dollar of Capital Fund expenditures produces $2.12 in economic return.  $4 billion of the funds will be distributed to public housing authorities through the existing formula and $1 billion will be awarded through a competitive process for projects that improve energy efficiency.  

HOME Investment Partnerships: $1.5 billion to help local communities build and rehabilitate low- income housing using green technologies.  Thousands of ready-to-go housing projects have been stalled by the credit crunch.  Funds are distributed by formula.   

Native American Housing Block Grants: $500 million to rehabilitate and improve energy efficiency at some of the over 42,000 housing units maintained by Native American housing programs.  Half of the funding will be distributed by formula and half will be competitively awarded to projects that can be started quickly. 

Neighborhood Stabilization: $4.2 billion to help communities purchase and rehabilitate foreclosed, vacant properties in order to create more affordable housing and reduce neighborhood blight. 

Homeless Assistance Grants: $1.5 billion for the Emergency Shelter Grant program to provide short term rental assistance, housing relocation, and stabilization services for families during the economic crisis.  Funds are distributed by formula. 

Rural Housing Insurance Fund: $500 million to support $22 billion in direct loans and loan guarantees to help rural families and individuals buy homes during the credit crunch.  Last year these programs received $13.4 billion more in applications than they could fund.    

Self-Help and Assisted Homeownership Program: $10 million for rural, high-need areas to undertake projects using sustainable and energy-efficient building and rehabilitation practices.  Funds will be awarded by competition to projects that can begin quickly. 

Lead Paint: $100 million for competitive grants to local governments and nonprofit organizations to remove lead-based paint hazards in low-income housing. 

Rural Community Facilities: $200 million to support $1.2 billion in grants and loans to rural areas for critical community facilities, such as for healthcare, education, fire and rescue, day care, community centers, and libraries. There are over $1.2 billion in applications pending.   

Alleviating Hunger 

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance: $20 billion to provide nutrition assistance to modest-income families and to lift restrictions that limit the amount of time individuals can receive food stamps. 

Senior Nutrition Programs: $200 million for formula grants to states for elderly nutrition services including Meals on Wheels and Congregate Meals.      

Afterschool Meals: $726 million to increase the number of states that provide free dinners to children and to encourage participation by new institutions by increasing snack reimbursement rates.   

Supplemental Nutrition Program Information Systems: $100 million to improve state management information systems for the WIC program.  

Payments to Disabled and Elderly: $4.2 billion to help 7.5 million low-income disabled and elderly individuals with rising costs by providing an additional SSI payment in 2009 equal to the average monthly federal payment under the program (approximately $450 for an individual and $630 for a couple).  This one- time payment will serve as an immediate economic stimulus as half of SSI recipients have no other form of income and the other half average outside income of less than $450 per month.   

Community Services Block Grant: $1 billion for grants to local communities to support employment, food, housing, and healthcare efforts serving those hardest hit by the recession.  Community action agencies have seen dramatic increases in requests for their assistance due to rising unemployment, housing foreclosures, and high food and fuel prices.  

Community Development Block Grants: $1 billion for community and economic development projects including housing and services for those hit hard by tough economic times. 

Emergency Food and Shelter: $200 million to help local community organizations provide food, shelter, and support services to the nation’s hungry, homeless, and people in economic crisis including one-month utility payments to prevent service cut-off and one-month rent or mortgage assistance to prevent evictions or help people leave shelters.  Funds are distributed by formula based on unemployment and poverty rates. 

Low-Income Home Energy Assistance: $1 billion to help low-income families pay for home heating and cooling at a time of rising energy costs.      

Child Support Enforcement: $1 billion to provide federal incentive funds for states to collect support owed to families.   

Social Security Administration Disability Backlog and Claims Processing: $500 million to help the Social Security Administration process a steep rise in disability and retirement claims, getting people their benefits faster, and preventing existing backlogs from getting worse.  Within this total, $40 million will help SSI upgrade health information technology. 

Centers for Independent Living: $200 million for state formula grants to help individuals with disabilities continue to live in their communities.  

AmeriCorps Programs:  $200 million to put approximately 16,000 additional AmeriCorps members to work doing national service, meeting needs of vulnerable populations and communities during the recession. 

Compassion Capital Fund:  $100 million for grants to faith- and community-based organizations to provide critical safety net services to needy individuals and families.    

Department of Labor Worker Protection and Oversight: $80 million to ensure that worker protection laws are enforced as recovery infrastructure investments are carried out. 

SAVE PUBLIC SECTOR JOBS AND PROTECT VITAL SERVICES 

We will provide relief to states, so they can continue to employ teachers, firefighters, and police officers and provide vital services without having to unnecessarily raise middle class taxes.  

Medicaid Aid to States (FMAP): $87 billion to states, increasing through the end of FY 2010 the share of Medicaid costs the federal government reimburses states, with additional relief tied to rates of unemployment.  

This approach has been used in previous recessions to prevent cuts to health benefits for their increased low- income patient loads at a time when state revenues are declining.    

State Education and Other Budget Priorities:  $120 billion to states and school districts to stabilize budgets and prevent tax increases and deep cuts to critical education programs, including:  

$41 billion to local school districts through Title I ($13 billion), IDEA ($13 billion), a new School Modernization and Repair Program ($14 billion), and the Education Technology program ($1 billion). 

$79 billion in state fiscal relief, including: $39 billion to local school districts and public colleges and universities distributed through existing state and federal formulas; $15 billion to states as bonus grants as a reward for meeting key performance measures; and $25 billion to states for other high priority needs such as public safety and other critical services, which may include education. 

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families: $2.5 billion for block grants to help States deal with the surge in families needing help during the recession and to prevent them from cutting work programs and services for abused and neglected children.  

State and Local Law Enforcement: $4 billion to support state and local law enforcement including $3 billion for the Byrne Justice Assistance formula grants to support local law enforcement efforts with equipment and operating costs, and $1 billion for the COPS hiring grant program, to hire about 13,000 new police officers for three years.  The grantee is responsible for at least 25% in matching funds and must commit to use their own funds to keep the officer on board in the fourth year.   

Periodic Census and Programs, Communications: $1 billion for work necessary to ensure a successful 2010 census, including $150 million for expanded communications and outreach programs to minimize undercounting of minority groups.  

OTHER IMPORTANT POLICY PROVISION 

Medicare and Medicaid Regulations: The bill extends the moratorium on Medicaid and Medicare regulations through October 1, 2009.