By Al Giordano
The US House has approved the final House-Senate conference committee agreement on the Stimulus Bill by a vote of 246 to 183 and the Senate is voting on it now (where it will pass with at least 60 votes later on tonight).
That means that more than half-a-trillion ($500 billion) dollars will go to job creation and social programs, much of that through state governments. That includes:
$127 billion to health care
$101 billion to education
$63 billion in aid to the poor
$61 billion to green energy ($30 billion for improving the electric grid, $20 million in loan guarantees for alternative energy development, $6 billion for weatherizing state and federal buildings, $5 billion for weatherizing homes...)
$53 billion to roads, bridges and other infrastructure
$22 billion to development of technology
$18 billion to environmental clean-up and protection
...and about $60 billion more for direct cash subsidies to people and other miscellaneous programs.
It also includes $285 billion in "tax cuts" but a different kind of tax cut than the term has meant over the past eight years (aimed at people, not for corporations, and not for the five percent of wealthiest Americans).
None of these expenditures existed before (and they won't exist until) the President signs the bill into law this weekend, opening the spigots to get the economy's blood moving from the bottom up. Unemployed workers will get jobs to do all this work. They'll then have money to spend, creating more jobs for workers who make products. The billions to modernize the health care system will bring the nation a step closer to national health care (and make that less expensive to create). The billions to education will create a better-trained and more competitive work force. The billions to green energy will decrease dependence on polluting and external sources of fuel. New technological advances will be spurred by this investment, and it will be faster and more economical for products to move from factory to consumer. Rural and poor Americans that do not have economical access to the Internet will have that.
For all the teeth-gnashing and whining of the past couple weeks about this bill, the process worked to create all those expenditures where none of them existed beforehand.
Were there versions of the bill that spent more on education and other vital needs? Yes. But there were also versions of the bill aimed at rescuing the failed nuclear industry, the coal industry, and other boondoggles that didn't make it into the final version.
All in all, I find it astounding that some still point the finger at the President's "bipartisan" tone as somehow having been a bad thing. To the contrary, it was key to bring along the few Republican votes necessary in the Senate to go for this massive public works program.
But there's a silver lining for those of us that appreciate irony: Now that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has thrown a bone to the anti-bipartisanship factions, I wonder if any of the heads of those who portrayed him an enemy to progressives will now commence to explode. According to the Wall Street Journal, Emanuel said Obama "has an open hand... But he has a very firm handshake." And this has some of the very same corners that have been doing Chicken Little fire drills ever since Emanuel got tapped as White House enforcer - the same ones that had portrayed him as the source of all supposed evil in the new administration - now in the very ironic position finding him as their partisanship lobby's best friend at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. I wonder if they grasp the humor in that. (And I'm guessing that they won't, even as many of us do get a chuckle out of it.)
Less than three weeks into the Obama presidency that the CL's clucked had somehow already failed, the single largest public spending bill in history is about to become law: $787 billion dollars, $504 of it directly creating jobs and improving the lot of the many.
And to think, back in 1993 President Bill Clinton couldn't get a Democratic Congress to support a $16 billion Stimulus Bill. Today's is 49 times larger, and it passed.
Maybe the green energy and technology provisions will now find a way to bottle blogger poutrage on future panics and convert it into fuel. Otherwise, how much human energy was wasted on that over recent weeks?
Related: What BooMan said.