Thursday, January 29, 2009

US House of Representatives passes Obama's $819bn economic bill.

Okay, so Obama's stimulus plan makes it's way through the House of Representative, but it does so with no Republican support.

The bill, providing $544bn in public spending and $275bn in tax cuts for individuals and businesses, was passed with 11 Democrats opposing it along with all Republican members. It now passes to the Senate, which could begin debate as early as Monday.

Obama said after the vote: "This recovery plan will save or create more than three million new jobs over the next few years." But his hopes of bipartisan support were dashed.

Republican leader John Boehner said the measure "won't create many jobs, but it will create plenty of programmes and projects through slow-moving government spending".

I'm all for bipartisanship, and I think it's useful to listen to Republican grumbles and to try and find a middle way, but it appears to me as if the Republicans are playing politics here when there really isn't time for such stuff.

The Senate debates the plan next week, and it could face stiff opposition as the Democrats have a slimmer majority.

After the vote, Mr Obama urged members of Congress not to "drag our feet or allow the same partisan differences to get in our way".

The president has said his package, which he hopes to sign into law next month, would help create a favourable climate for American business to thrive.

The bill would cut taxes for people and businesses by $275bn, while pumping more than $540bn into a range of initiatives including road and bridge repair, increased unemployment benefits, investment in new technology and renovations to 10,000 schools.

Mr Obama has pledged to try to end partisan division in Washington, but the debate on how best to kick start the US economy has devolved into a bitter squabble along party lines, says the BBC's Richard Lister in Washington.
The economy is tanking, and this guy has a plan. All the Republicans are doing - as far as I can see - is giving themselves room to say, "I told you that wouldn't work."

Which, to me, is the same as wishing that it won't work. Which, at a time of national emergency, I regard as a bloody disgrace.

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