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February 07, 2009

Collins: I Might Vote Against the Final Spendulus if It Comes Back from Conference With Too Much Pork
UPDATE: Some Chance of a Rocky Reconciliation of Senate and House Bills

Nancy Pelosi only submitted a bill of $820 billion. Collins blessed an $827 billion bill. But, um, she's such a fiscal hawk she might vote against the final conference bill if it's even bigger.

Nancy Pelosi, big-spending liberal Democrat from San Francisco, wrote a cheaper, more prudent bill than the one "Republican" Collins crafted.

Puts it all in context.

I wouldn't hold out much hope Nancy Pelosi will get into a catfight with Collins and thus doom the bill. Besides, even if Pelosi adds back in $60 or $80 billion of her own Sears' Wish List of boondoggles, is Ms. Fiscal Hawk Susan Collins really going to balk at such a small mark-up in a $1.2 trillion dollar bill? I doubt it.

Thanks to CJ.

Hmm... Some Room for Trouble: One can hope for a bit of acrimony during the reconciliation process:

The Senate changes bring what had been a $920 billion package down to about $820 billion. Among the largest cuts: $40 billion from a $79 billion fund aimed at helping states preserve school funding as they try to balance their budgets. And negotiators cut in half $15 billion in "incentive grants" for states that meet certain goals for their initial education allotment.

"Education took a big hit here," said Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.).

The compromise also would cut $5 billion from a plan to help unemployed workers pay for health-care coverage, reducing the amount the federal government would pay for COBRA premiums to 50 percent from 65 percent. And it would cut $2 billion from a plan to help critical-access hospitals computerize medical records.

A smaller number of changes would reduce the size of the Senate's tax package, including a $9 billion revision to a credit for investors in low-income housing and a $2 billion adjustment to the president's Making Work Pay credit that would eliminate the benefit for some taxpayers.

...

Negotiations with the House could also dramatically alter the package. While the bills in the two chambers are now likely to be similar in size, the Senate has increased the percentage of its legislation devoted to tax cuts. The biggest change is the addition of a $70 billion provision that would protect more than 24 million families from the alternative minimum tax.

House moderates oppose including the AMT provision in the stimulus package, arguing that the issue should be addressed in the regular budget process so that its cost can be offset by spending cuts or tax increases. But until yesterday, House leaders appeared willing to accept the provision, which was added at the urging of Sen. Charles E. Grassley (Iowa), the senior Republican on the Senate Finance Committee.

With AMT in and some of House Democrats' top spending priorities out, the package could become much more difficult for many House members to swallow, Democratic aides said. House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) said House Democrats will push hard to restore the Senate's deletions. That means, lawmakers said, that the overall cost would grow to around $900 billion to accommodate the AMT fix.

Said House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.): "I don't think much of what the Senate is doing."

The very liberal House caucus loves spending and abhors tax cuts. Will they choke on such things? Will they allow the tax cuts but force the spending back in to balloon the cost of the bill (even without debt service) up to $1 trillion or more?

One can only hope. And hope too that Collins and Snowe want primarily to be seen as willing to deal, and, having so shown themselves, will ultimately balk at a $1.5 trillion dollar pork bonanza.



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posted by Ace at 05:54 PM

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