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Getting Ours

Feb 18, 2009
It is over 1,000 pages and we admit we haven’t read it all (who has?); however, the Obama stimulus package is probably law by now (we are writing this on Sunday, February 15, and Obama is expected to sign it on Tuesday). So you may be wondering the same thing we are: “What’s in it for me?” If you, like us, are among low- to moderate-income Americans, there is quite a lot in it for you, as well as for the states you live in, most of which are hurting badly. The people at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities have read it and and have offered the following summary1 of the high points for those of us who are suffering most. Click on the footnoted links to read more on each subject:

  • Provide Medicaid relief to the states: $89 billion over nine calendar quarters.2
  • Help state and local governments avert budget cuts: $39.5 for education budgets, $8.8 billion for other key services, and $5 billion in incentive grants.3
  • Education: $44.6 billion to the Department of Education for Title I, Special Education, Pell Grants, and other national educational assistance purposes.4
  • Unemployment Insurance: $25/week increase in unemployment benefits. Eighteen million people are expected to benefit from this provision.5
  • Child Care: $2 billion to states to subsidize child care for low-income working families or low-income families in which the parents are engaged in education or training.6
  • Child Support: $1 billion to suspend a 2006 provision that would have reduced this support by 20 percent.7
  • Training and Employment Services: $3.95 billion for job training and employment services for dislocated workers, youths, and adults.8
  • Food Stamp (or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance) Program: $20 billion, most of which ($19 billion) would be used to increase maximum food stamp benefits by 13.6 percent. Fourteen million households will benefit.9
  • Emergency Shelter Grant Program: $1.5 billion for states (25 percent) and localities (75 percent) for homelessness prevention, emergency shelters, and street outreach.10
  • Child Tax Credit: Lowering the income threshold for eligibility for this tax credit will essentially increase the benefit currently received in low-income families, as well as increase the numbers of eligible families. It is estimated this benefit will total approximately $14.8 billion.11.
  • Making Work Pay Tax Credit: No figure was provided for this centerpiece of the tax relief provision of the stimulus package. However, most workers not claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return will be eligible for a tax credit (reduction) of $400.12
Most independent economists (Stiglitz, Krugman, etc.) believe this stimulus package is about one-third as large as it needs to be in order to be effective. It is nevertheless being widely characterized as “the largest economic rescue program since Franklin Roosevelt launched the New Deal.”13

Effective? A New Deal? Time will tell.
1 American Recover and Reinvestment Act of 2009: State-by-State Estimates of Key Provisions Affecting Low- and Moderate-Income Individuals, dated February 13, 2009, accessed February 15, 2009, as were all other footnoted items today
2 Temporary Increase in State Aid (.pdf, 27kb, 2 pp.)
3 State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (.pdf, 39kb, 2 pp.)
4 Education (.pdf, 22kb, 1 p.)
5 Unemployment Insurance (.pdf, 10kb, 1 p.)
6 Child Care (.pdf, 10kb, 1 p.)
7 Child Support (.pdf, 70kb, 2 pp.)
8 Training and Employment Services (.pdf, 26kb, 2 pp.)
9 Food Stamp Program (.pdf, 31kb, 2 pp.)
10 Emergency Shelter Grant Program (.pdf, 27kb, 2 pp.)
11 Child Tax Credit (.pdf, 11kb, 1 p.)
12 Making Work Pay Tax Credit (.pdf 53kb, 1 p.)
13 DemocracyNow.org, February 13, 2009
tags: Economics | Governance

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