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State aid bill passes…now on to President Obama’s desk

Today, the House passed a 26.1 billion state aid bill.  The final vote was 247-161, and gives President Obama a nice legislative victory during a recess, as well as aid to cash strapped states.  The main purpose of this bill is to help state and local governments avoid laying off teachers and other government workers.

When it comes to the breakdown of funds, $10 billion will be allocated to education(saving 140,000 teaching jobs).  The other $16.1 billion will be used to assist states in making Medicaid payments.  This bill was paid for by various tax reforms, along with spending cuts.

The pharmaceutical industry will take a bit of a hit, as Medicaid rebates will be altered.  Also, foreign tax credits to multi-national companies will be rolled back, creating $9.7 billion in revenue.  In terms of cuts, the food stamp program will be axed my $11.9 billion.  Many Democrats opposed this cut, but some tough choices had to be made, which they were.  One positive is that this bill does not add to the deficit, and according to the Congressional Budget Office estimates, will raise $1.4 billion over 10 years.

If it weren’t for the courageous votes of Republican senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, this bill would never have seen the light of day.  Moving forward, it is essential that President Obama and majority leader Harry Reid shape legislation that will be assured of getting support from moderate Republicans like Snowe and Collins.

To nobody’s surprise, most Republicans opposed this bill.  The sad fact is that had this bill failed(due in no small measure to Republican opposition), hundreds of thousands of teachers, police, and other workers would be out of a job.  My only guess is that Republicans would have seized on the new people added to the unemployment rolls as evidence that President Obama is failing at trying to revive the economy.  It disgusts me that many Republicans are more worried about their political fortunes and scoring cheap, short term points than fighting to keep people employed.  I can’t be too disgusted though, because I know their game.  A revived, improving economy would not be good for Republicans political fortunes.  The worse off the job situation, the better their poll ratings will be.

I admit we will take some lumps in the November midterms, but I’m confident we will retain the majority in both houses of Congress.  In the end, the American people will realize that Democrats are a much more fierce advocate for them, and are taking decisive action to stem the tide of unemployment, and put people back to work.


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