Progressive group to campaign for a second stimulus bill

07/07/09 Mitch E. Perry
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With the unemployment rate getting worse each month, there is increasing discussion in Washington about the possibility of a second stimulus package to bolster the economy.

The Obama administration argued in January that the unemployment rate would peak at 8 percent, if the stimulus package was passed.

In February, Congress passed and Obama signed the $787 billion dollar bill, which received virtually no support from Congressional Republicans.

But unemployment is now at 9.5%. On Sunday, Vice President Joe Biden said that the administration had ‘misread’ the economic conditions. But in an interview with NBC News today, President Obama disagreed.

Advocating for a 2nd stimulus is Laura D'Andrea Tyson, an economic advisor to President Obama. Addressing a seminar in Singapore on Tuesday, Tyson said she felt the first round of stimulus aimed to prop up the economy had been slightly smaller than she would have liked, and that a possible second round should be directed at infrastructure investment.

A coalition of liberal organizations say they plan to campaign for another recovery package after Congress returns in September from their August break. Robert Borosage is with the Campaign For America’s Future. He says that groups like the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the Economic Policy Institute will be among those calling for more stimulus.

Recent polls suggest that support for the original stimulus bill is dropping. But supporters say it’s too early to determine if it’s not working, since only 11% of the money allocated for discretionary spending is to be spent this year.

But that adds fuel to critics who say too much of the bill is not geared to be spent immediately, defeating the purpose, which was to juice the economy.

Robert Borasage with the Campaign for America’s Future says the bigger problem with the bill was inserting cuts for the alternative minimum tax into the bill, weakening its impact.

Republicans argued in the winter that the stimulus bill should have included more tax incentives for job creation. Virginia’s Eric Cantor has been quoted as saying he doesn’t favor another stimulus bill, but if he were, he would want it geared towards tax cuts.

The Center for America’s Future’s Bob Borosage said helping states and localities that are getting hammered economically should be a priority if a second stimulus bill were to be proposed. He then recited what else he thinks should be in that package.

According to a recent breakdown of the entire spending for the program, Florida is getting the weakest hand. An analysis by the Palm Beach Post over the weekend showed that per capita, the state of Florida has received less stimulus money than any other state.

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