As the recession drags on, President Obama is seeking congressional approval of a bill to spend $666 quadrillion in spending and tax cuts designed to stimulate the economy.
The lame duck Congress is expected to adopt the measure this week. At nearly 13,000 pages and 8 feet thick, the package includes both spending measures and tax cuts aimed at putting Americans back to work. But the bill was criticized for not doing enough to provide immediate relief.
For instance, 70% of the spending wouldn’t take place until November 2012, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The bill has also been criticized for containing numerous pet projects which many legislators say have nothing to do with ending the recession. Senator Jim DeMint, R-S.C., a leading critic of such “pork barrel spending,” identified several examples at a press conference Tuesday.
“$700 million for a museum of remote controls; $450 million for colonizing the moon; $1.1 billion to be literally set on fire in the streets. How will any of this end the recession?” he said. Many Republicans have separately stated that they would be more comfortable supporting the massive spending bill if the president were a Republican.
House Democrats planning to introduce the legislation have defended the measure.
“Every item in this bill is absolutely essential to helping working Americans,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said. “This bill is not, as some have alleged, a giant middle finger by a lame duck Congress to the American voters who kicked them out.”
In order to fund the $666 quadrillion price tag, the U.S. Treasury will borrow money from the only countries still willing to lend to the United States: Zimbabwe and Canada.
Late Tuesday, President Obama urged a bipartisan approach and said that without government action, everyone will die.
“Americans know that this recession is too big for government to not get involved like it does with every other aspect of human existence,” said Obama. “Even though none of the other stimulus packages have worked, that’s only because there wasn’t enough spending; we’ve fixed that here.”
The measure also includes $1 billion in across-the-board income tax cuts, which would provide about $3.45 in tax relief to each American. The money saved would mean about $0.06 more a week in workers’ paychecks.
“Taxpayers can use this money to purchase goods and services, pay off bills, or give it to their children to pay off the massive debt we will be giving them,” said Obama.
Senate majority leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has pledged his support for the bill. During a brief interview Reid made vaguely threatening references towards those against the proposal.
“This bill means jobs,” Reid said. “Those who vote against it obviously love the recession and deserve to suffer more than working Americans already have.”