As Igor Volsky laid out earlier, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) are circulating a series of proposed cuts to the economic stimulus package. According to Nelson spokesperson Clay Westrope, “Senator Nelson feels like this has to be passed, and they’re working to make sure this is a bill that’s truly stimulative.”
The cuts are still in working draft form, but if this is any indication of the direction that the Senators are moving in, it is troubling. For Nelson, who has a personal net worth about $10 million, this is also a case of kicking Main Street while its down, as the proposed cuts are in areas like health care, education, and aid to the states. Adding insult to injury, Collins and Nelson are nitpicking important stimulus funding that would benefit working Americans and their children, after they voted for giving $700 billion to Wall St. with no oversight.
As Marc Ambinder noted, “the big, perhaps ultimate battle will be over education funding for states.” Just a few weeks ago, education was a “favorite channel” for stimulus. Nelson and Collins, though, have cut about $15 billion in state incentive grants for education and another $14 billion in Dept. of Education funding. These are important forms of stimulus that need to be included.
They also propose eliminating $24 billion in state education stabilization money. This is funding that would go to prevent layoffs for teachers and other school staff; essentially, the people on Main Street who are directly affected by the economic crisis and bearing the brunt of debilitating state budget cuts. From these actions, it’s pretty easy to see where Nelson and Collins’ priorities lie.