According to TPMDC, “the fight to add mass transit money to the stimulus bill is far from over“:
Senate Democratic Vice Chairman Chuck Schumer (NY) just mentioned on a conference call with reporters that he’ll be introducing a version of Rep. Jerrold Nadler’s (D-NY) amendment to add $3 billion in public transportation cash to the economic recovery pot.
The stimulus needs to provide a boost to the economy, but not at the expense of creating urban sprawl and encouraging more gas-guzzling driving habits. A concurrent goal to economic stimulus is working towards a green economy, and thus, as Matthew Yglesias wrote, “insofar as some of the highway projects envisioned in the bill can’t fit within the two-year stimulus window, we ought to drop the projects.”
Despite her hearing having occurred on January 9, Rep. Hilda Solis (D-CA), President Barack Obama’s nominee for Labor Secretary, has yet to be confirmed by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. What’s the holdup? Senate Republicans are evidently burying her in paperwork:
The nomination of Rep. Hilda L. Solis, D-Calif., for Labor secretary has been lingering in the Senate as Republicans raise extra questions for her, effectively forestalling a confirmation vote…Although the written questionnaires don’t constitute an official hold on Solis’ nomination, the paperwork has the same delaying effect.
One issue with Solis’ confirmation seems to be her support for the Employee Free Choice Act, which Solis co-sponsored and voted for in the House in 2007. Much like their opposition to the auto rescue in December, blocking Solis may be nothing more than a conservative attempt to send a message on Employee Free Choice. As the New York Times editorial board wrote:
The delay in confirming Ms. Solis isn’t because the Senate needs to know more. It’s a way for Republican senators to score tough-guy points with business constituents who are driven to distraction by the thought of unions.
According to Greg Sargent, “Some top operatives in the labor movement are frustrated with the Obama administration for not giving them the go-ahead to publicly target Republicans who appear to be stalling Solis’ confirmation.”
Yesterday, reacting to a New York State Comptroller report showing that Wall Street banks doled out $18.4 billion in bonuses in 2008, President Obama denounced the practice as “shameful.” “That is the height of irresponsibility. It is shameful, and part of what we’re going to need is for folks on Wall Street who are asking for help to show some restraint and show some discipline and show some sense of responsibility,” Obama said emphatically. The same day, the Congressional panel overseeing the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) recommended that financial regulators revoke bonuses for executives of firms seeking government help.
Appearing this morning on CNN, however, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani stridently defended the practice of enormous bonuses untethered to actual performance, warning that ending the tradition “really will create unemployment”:
GIULIANI: I remember when I was mayor, one of the ways in which you determined New York City’s budget, tax revenues, was Wall Street bonuses. Wall Street had a billion, two billion in bonuses, city had a deficit. Wall Street had 15 to 20 billion, New York City had a 2, 3 billion surplus. And it’s because that money gets spent. … It does have a reverse effect on the economy, if you somehow take that bonus out of the economy. It really will create unemployment. It means less spending in restaurants, less spending in department stores. So everything has an impact.
Even as he was pushing for more billions to be handed out to failing businessmen, Giuliani railed against President Obama’s tax cuts for the poor: “That’s not stimulating the economy, that’s solving some kind of social agenda.” He was more explicit last week, condemning the tax cuts as “welfare” with Fox News’ Sean Hannity:
GIULIANI: Yes, if — somebody is not paying taxes is going to get a check from the government, then that is welfare. You haven’t earned it, that’s a welfare payment. I think he’s going to have to abandon that in light of the economic situation.
HANNITY: Are you thinking that he’s really — he’s going to abandon all these things?
GIULIANI: I think so.
Conservatives raised the “welfare” scarecrow throughout the presidential campaign, even though the claim is bogus. As Factcheck.org pointed out, “a worker can be a ‘taxpayer’ whether or not they owe any income tax.” Nearly every worker pays Social Security and Medicare taxes — “totaling 7.65 percent on every dollar of earnings” — and Americans pay federal taxes every time they buy gasoline or pay a phone bill, for example. Congressional Budget Office figures show that even the lowest-earning households pay about 4.3 percent of their income to federal taxes.