Friday, January 30, 2009

American Recovery

Wednesday, I voted for the President’s $825 billion stimulus with one hand, and crossed my fingers with the other. The bill did not change too much from the recap I sent you last week, and sadly it was a strictly partisan vote. But let us be clear, despite Republican opposition (and I read Rep. Jenkin’s piece in the Star today) every American, left, right and midland needs to be hoping that this package works.

Failure is not something we honestly can consider. If after two years the speed, spread and scope of this package does not pay off, we will be entering our fifth and sixth year of recession and our problems will be far greater than asking where $825 billion went.

As you know I have as many friends on the other side of the aisle as I do on my side, but after their stewardship of the economy over the last 8 years, criticism from the right is a little hard to take. This may not be the answer, but every single one of us needs to be hoping for success instead of sharpening our partisan knives.


The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act should create and save 3 to 4 million jobs, by rebuilding America, making us more globally competitive and energy independent, and transforming our economy for long-term growth; giving 95 percent of American workers an immediate tax cut; and investing quickly in the economy – with 75 percent of these job-creating investments in the economy in the next 18 months.

America is facing an economic crisis greater than any since the Great Depression. A staggering 2.6 million American jobs were lost in the last year. I do not need to tell you, things are bad. The unemployment rate here in Missouri has climbed to 7.3 percent.

As a result of the stimulus passed this week, independent economist Mark Zandi of Moody’s projects Missouri will save or create and estimated 71,030 jobs, growing our workforce by 2.2 percent.


The bill seeks to double our renewable energy production and renovate public buildings to make them more energy efficient. The energy provisions of the plan will create more than 500,000 jobs by accelerating deployment of smart grid technology and the building of new electric transmission lines for renewable energy, spurring energy efficiency investment in our homes and schools to cut energy costs, offering support for the nation’s governors and mayors to tackle their energy challenges, and spurring investment in renewable energy and better fuel efficient cars for a greener future. These are all things that HAVE to be done in the near future, so providing funding and concentrated effort both completes a national priority and puts people back to work.

Health Care

To reduce health care costs, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act invests in a practical investment to bring our health care system into the 21st century with health information technology – that is proven not only to reduce costs but also to increase the quality of care, save lives, and create jobs.

While we are on the subject of health care, the millions of people who have lost their jobs in this recession have also lost their health insurance. This package provides those losing their jobs new affordable options for maintaining their health care coverage. And, to protect existing Medicaid coverage for millions of Americans, the package provides $1.49 billion here in Missouri in additional federal matching Medicaid funds to help stave off cuts in health care in the face of massive state budget shortfalls. Yes that is billion with a “b”.


Strategic investments in education are one of the best ways to help America become more productive and competitive – spurring long-term growth. This recovery package will make bold investments to provide children with a 21st century education. In Missouri, this means $1,22 billion to prevent teacher layoffs and other cutbacks in education and other key services and over $344 million to modernize our schools and colleges, which will create good- paying jobs. It will also make college more affordable with improved Pell Grants for the 138, 591 Pell Grant recipients in Missouri and a higher education tax credit for an additional 74,000 students in our state so that they can stay in college.


The bill also concentrates on construction. The Act will make large investments to repair and modernize thousands of miles of roadways in the U.S., provide new mass transit options for millions of Americans, and invest in clean water infrastructure. These provisions would create about 1.5 million American jobs nationwide. In Missouri, this will provide more than $954 million to invest in these key infrastructure projects that are ready to go and will begin to create jobs for Missourians right away.

Tax Relief

As a downpayment on permanent middle-class tax cuts promised by President Obama, the plan includes tax cuts for 95% of American workers, including Over 2 million families here in Missouri with the “Making Work Pay” Tax Credit. Expanding the Child Tax Credit will help the families of 326,000 children in Missouri. The business tax cuts in the package will also spur new job-creating investments by businesses large and small, that will transform our economy for years to come, such as in renewable energy and energy efficiency.

In this economic crisis, high unemployment and rising costs have put a huge strain on many American families. The package contains a series of additional provisions to help, including helping workers train and find jobs, extending unemployment benefits for 48,000 people here in Missouri, and increasing food stamp benefits for nearly a million more people in need our home state.

The package now moves to the Senate who, last I knew, were contemplating a package of $900 billion which alters some of these formulas a bit, so the numbers may change from what I have outlined here. I will try to keep you up to date as the bill moves forward. We expect the bill to be on the President’s desk before Presidents’ Day as he has requested.