White House Threatens Veto Of Second Stimulus Over Food Stamps And Unemployment Benefits

Today, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released a statement of administrative policy today recommending Bush veto a proposed second stimulus package. The $56.2 billion package, announced yesterday, would extend unemployment benefits for seven weeks, increase food stamp benefits by 10 percent, and provide $50 million for food banks, among other proposals. This afternoon, Senate conservatives successfully blocked the bill, as the motion to proceed won 52 votes, eight shy of the necessary 60.

In the press briefing today, just an hour before the Senate vote, Dana Perino said the White House opposed the measure, specifically citing its extension of unemployment and food stamp benefits as explanation:

PERINO: There’s some elements of the package that have been put forward by Democrats that we do not think would be stimulative to the economy, such as unemployment insurance. The food stamps, we believe we have met the need.

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In fact, the tanking economy has left more Americans in need of food assistance than ever, with 28 million Americans expected to receive food stamps this year, “the highest level since the aid program began in the 1960s.” At the same time, the purchasing power of food stamps has declined dramatically.

Alongside unemployment benefits and food stamps, the OMB also objected to a provision increasing infrastructure spending, arguing, “Infrastructure spending is never an effective means to create rapid stimulus.” However, a Center for American Progress study found that two million jobs could be created within two years through robust investment in green energy and infrastructure.