Stimulus Package Passes in Senate

The stimulus package has passed in the Senate by a narrow 61-37 vote, with only three Republican Senators crossing the aisle: Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania. Now it’s on to the House for final negotiations and with hope that the final legislation will be on President Obama’s desk within a few days.  

Hearing word of the passage while in Fort Meyers, FL, where he was drumming up support for the stimulus plan, President Obama said, “That’s good news. That’s good news, and I want to thank all the members of the Senate…”

“We’ve still got to get the House bill and the Senate bill to match up before it’s sent to my desk,” Obama said. “That’s a good start.”

As if to underline how critical this is to American workers, news broke earlier today that G.M. is cutting 10,000 salaried jobs. Add to that the report today that “private label” credit cards, like Macy’s, Wal-Mart and  Lowe’s to name a few, are “turning into a big headache for their issuers.” I just keep thinking this can’t get any worse, but it is clear it will before it is over.

Included in the Senate version of the stimulus package was a provision authored by Senator John Kerry to “modernize our transportation system and create hundreds of desperately needed jobs was included in the final version of the economic recovery package that passed the Senate today by a vote of 61 to 37.”  

“The high speed rail provision will create jobs, fix our crumbling infrastructure, and move our rail systems up to par with the high-tech rail systems across the globe,” said Kerry. “This is a job creator now and an investment that will continue to pay off tomorrow.

“This bill is one big step toward digging out of a deep, deep economic hole and it’s an investment in the jobs and relief Americans need to break this downward cycle,” Kerry continued.  “This is a down payment towards a comprehensive solution that addresses the economic, financial, housing, and credit crises.  I look forward to working with our House colleagues to reconcile our two plans and send a bill to the President as quickly as possible. 

“It said everything about the importance of this moment that Sen. Kennedy returned to the Senate to cast his vote for a new economic direction,” Kerry added.  “Ted knows the importance of this legislation for Massachusetts and our country, and once again he is always in the thick of the fight when peoples’ jobs are on the line. After a week of delay and debate and a legislative process that sometimes frustrates us and enrages the country, Teddy’s presence summed up what really matters and what’s really worth fighting for.”

Kerry’s office also reports that “the bill also includes a provision modeled after Kerry’s legislation that would exempt interest from private activity bonds from the Alternative Minimum Tax, including interest from high-speed rail bonds.”  

The following a list of provisions included in the stimulus package that were authored by or previously introduced by Senator John Kerry:

HIGH SPEED RAIL: As a result of Senator Kerry’s work, the bill includes $2 billion for grants for investments in high-speed rail corridors. The rail provision allows transit projects to receive tax-exempt financing and requires that high-speed trains must be reasonably expected to reach 150 miles per hour. The bill also includes a provision modeled after Kerry’s legislation that would exempt interest from private activity bonds from the Alternative Minimum Tax, including interest from high-speed rail bonds. This change would make bonds more attractive to investors. Investments in high-speed rail can be used to help make necessary improvements to the Northeast corridor.

EARNED INCOME TAX CREDIT (EITC): Senator Kerry secured two reforms to the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) that will decrease the penalty for married couples and increase the tax credit for families with three or more children. This means more money in the pockets of the people of Massachusetts.

ALTERNATIVE MINIMUM TAX (AMT): A provision included in the bill will exempt private activity bonds from the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). This provision is based on S. 138, legislation authored by Kerry. As many as27 percent of Massachusetts taxpayers would be impacted by the AMT without Congressional action.

INVEST IN SMALL BUSINESSES ACT: A bill sponsored by Senator Kerry to increase the 50 percent capital gains exclusion to 75 percent for investment in small businesses was included in the recovery package. This provision will help with investment in start-ups on the breaking edge of green technology and bio technology. 

RENEWABLE ENERGY AND CONSERVATION: Senator Kerry played a key role in securing energy tax provision increases to include a long term extension of provisions that provide tax incentives for the production of renewable energy and tax credits for conservations.

COLLEGE EDUCATION TAX CREDIT: The bill includes an education tax credit similar to the credit in Senator Kerry’s “College Opportunity Tax Credit Act of 2009,” which helps students and parents afford all four years of college. The provision would create a $2,500 higher education tax credit that is available for the first four years of college and a portion of the credit is refundable.

INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT BOND (IDB) PROGRAM: A provision introduced by Senators Kerry and Snowe (R – ME) to expand the Industrial Development Bond (IDB) program to high-technology and biotechnology uses. The small-issue IDB program has given state and local governments a low-cost source of financing to create and retain jobs in manufacturing plants.

SMALL BUSINESS LENDING: A plan introduced by Senators Kerry and Schumer (D – N.Y.) to provide $730 million to stimulate lending to small businesses was included in the recovery package.  

PLUG-IN HYBRID: The legislation provides a ten percent credit for 2-wheeled and 3-wheeled vehicles and increases the number of eligible vehicles for the plug-in credit from 250,000 to 300,000. In addition, it provides a ten percent for battery modules which convert a hybrid to a plug-in hybrid.

 YOUTHBUILD: Senator Kerry secured $100 million for YouthBuild programs nationwide. YouthBuild provides critical job skills to at risk 16 to 24 year olds. The program’s participants also help build quality, affordable housing in communities that desperately need it. As a result of this funding more young people will be able to participate in YouthBuild.

 [Portions of this post were originally published at]

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About Pamela Leavey

Pamela Leavey is the Editor in Chief, Owner/Publisher of The Democratic Daily as well as a freelance writer and photographer. Pamela holds a certificate in Contemporary Communications from UMass Lowell, a Journalism Certificate from UMass Amherst and a B.A. in Creative Writing and Digital Age Communications from UMass Amherst UWW.
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