The House's original stimulus bill, as we've reported for several weeks, gave mass transit the short end of the stick in favor of $30 billion for highways with no requirement that repairs be prioritized over new road-building.
But according to a confidential summary of the final stimulus deal that we've just been passed (view it here), mass transit got some more attention in the end. Amtrak and high-speed rail programs got $9.3 billion, an increase of about $6 billion from the Senate's version of the stimulus.
Still, environmentally sustainable transportation didn't completely win the day. A $5.5 billion transit-modernizing grant program eagerly anticipated by environmental advocates, which senators at first wanted to open up to highways, was removed entirely from the final stimulus deal.
Congress did agree on $8.4 billion for general public transportation grants, however. Vice President Biden (D-Amtrak), if you had any role in this: thanks.
Late Update: N.B. Until legislative language is formally filed on the bill today, there's always the possibility that these numbers could change. What we're bringing you are the freshest details.
Late Late Update: The sun has set in Washington, but the town is still on pins and needles over the actual text of the stimulus deal. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) has issued a statement promising that the language "will be filed this evening, giving members enough time to review the [stimulus] conference report before voting on it tomorrow afternoon."
That means most rank-and-file lawmakers in both parties will have about 12 hours -- including slumber time -- to digest the bill, which is likely to run past the 300-page mark, before debate begins at 9am tomorrow.
We'll let you know first thing about the fate of executive pay limits and other remaining unknowns in the final stimulus, which is likely to be signed into law by President Obama before Monday. In the meantime, check out the details of the tax and health care provisions that made it in.
Thanks to a reader who sent us the final numbers on what's in and out of the final stimulus bill, we can finally start digging into the substance of the deal that's headed for approval by this weekend. (We have the charts of those internal numbers for you right here.)
House Democratic aides haven't formally released the details of the stimulus deal yet, but we've got the information -- thanks to the reader who sent it in.
Note that the school-building fund sought by House Democrats, which sparked an internal tussle between Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), is nowhere to be found in the final stimulus. Instead, school repairs will be paid for using part of the states' $54 billion "stabilization fund," which was brought up $15 billion above the Senate's original number.
But no matter how you slice it, the Senate won that fight.
Michael Steele has a new op-ed posted at USA Today, promoting the GOP's continuing assertion that their stimulus plan has numbers to back up its superiority over the Dem bill:
Republicans have a better solution: an economic recovery plan that lets families and small businesses keep more of what they earn. By our analysis, the Republican plan would create 6.2 million jobs, twice the number created under the Democrats' plan, at half the cost.
Again, it needs to be asked where they got this from. As we've previously reported, this came from altering the base numbers in an economic analysis that Christina Romer, who is now serving as chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, wrote a year ago -- well before the current crisis of a deflationary economy had come into play.
There are two problems here. First, that paper didn't actually examine tax cuts, but instead looked at the negative effects of tax increases under normal circumstances. The Republicans' predictions about tax cuts come from flipping the numbers around and assuming the mirror-image effects.
And furthermore, they've totally ignored the fact that we are in an abnormal scenario right now, with different fundamental underlying assumptions.
But hey, never let that stop you from some good political spin.
A new Rasmussen poll suggests that support for the stimulus plan has picked up again, after it had previously fallen last week.
The numbers: 44% favor the package, 40% oppose it, and the remainder are undecided. The margin of error is Â±3%.
Last week, Rasmussen showed support at an upside-down 37%-43%, a number that was immediately pushed hard by Republicans. For example, Karl Rove cited Rasmussen just this morning in his Wall St. Journal column, as a sign of how support had fallen.
Also consider that Rasmussen has consistently shown lower support for the plan than other firms have charted, but the positive movement is clear.
And so here's the problem with hanging your hopes on this week's poll. It remains to be seen whether this new survey will also be promoted by the GOP to the same degree that last week's was.
Here's one answer: Can you guess the year that this Senate coverage was published in the New York Times?
No conclusion of any kind regarding the tariff bill was reached, although the Republicans said they hoped to be able to report the bill to the full committee on Monday. ... [T]he Democrats would not agree to fix a date, saying they wanted a reasonable time to consider the bill, and there would be no undue delay. The Democrats were not shown a copy of the bill, nor did they receive any information regarding its character.
During the first six years of the Bush administration, when Republicans controlled both the White House and Congress, they were rightly infamous for ramming through controversial bills without giving Democrats time to read the legislation -- let alone provide any input or offer amendments.
John Cole, at Balloon Juice, references the latter episode to argue that GOPers should stop complaining and be grateful that Democrats allowed them into a televised conference meeting yesterday. He misses the point entirely. Here's why the most loyal Democrat should be concerned -- not angry, not ready to write off the Obama administration, but concerned -- about what happened.
So is it really just a fringe, loony-left view that the former Bush Administration should be investigated? Not at all, according to a new Gallup poll -- but there isn't a clear verdict on what exactly should be done.
A significant plurality favor outright criminal probes, though they are not a majority. Another portion prefer an independent investigation by a special panel:
Possible attempts to use Justice Dept. for political purposes: Criminal investigation, 41%; Investigation by independent panel, 30%; Neither, 25%
Possible use of telephone wiretaps without a warrant: Criminal investigation, 38%; Investigation by independent panel, 25%; Neither, 34%
Possible use of torture in terror interrogations: Criminal investigation, 38%; Investigation by independent panel, 24%; Neither, 34%
As you would expect, majorities of Democrats favor criminal probes, Republicans largely oppose doing anything, and independents correspond pretty closely with the top-line numbers.
Gallup leads in their analysis with the criminal-probe response being a minority, but this seems to miss the larger point: A majority clearly favor doing something to investigate the Bush Administration -- though exactly what the something should be is a whole other argument. But if there is any kind of option that can be characterized as way out there, it's the position that we should do nothing.
Obama's Day: Promoting Stimulus And Paying Tribute To Lincoln
President Obama is meeting with Hillary Clinton at 10:45 a.m. ET. Then at 11:30 a.m. he will be speaking at the Capitol Rotunda, honoring the 200th birthday of Abraham Lincoln. He will then be heading to Illinois, where he'll be meeting at 4:25 p.m. ET with workers at a Caterpillar Plant in East Peoria, promoting the stimulus plan. Then at 8 p.m. ET he will attend a dinner in Springfield, honoring Lincoln.
Joe Biden Visiting the Special Olympics
Joe Biden is traveling today to Boise, Idaho, where he will attend a 3:45 p.m. ET reception for Special Olympics athletes and their families.
WaPo: Yes, Economists Say The New Deal Helped The DepressionThe Washington Post has a new article this morning, rebutting the Republican critique that the New Deal either failed to help or even caused the Great Depression. While the verdict is mixed on some particular aspects, most economists say the New Deal helped -- and if anything, the problem was Roosevelt didn't spend enough. Said Berkeley economics professor Barry Eichengreen: "Should we be surprised that it didn't end the Depression given its small size by the standards of the problem? No."
Karl Rove Praises House GOP On Stimulus, Denounces 'My Way or The Highway' Obama White House
Karl Rove's latest column in the Wall St. Journal provides some interesting perspective into the stimulus spin war, making the case that Republicans -- especially the House leadership team -- have performed well in the stimulus debates. "House Republicans had the wisdom to continue to talk to the Obama White House," Rove says. "This made them look gracious, even as the president edged toward a 'my way or the highway' attitude."
Obama Honors Lincoln At Ford's Theatre
President Obama also honored Lincoln last night, at the rededication of Ford's Theatre. "We know that Ford's Theatre will remain a place where Lincoln's legacy thrives," said Obama, "where his love of the humanities and belief in the power of education have a home, and where his generosity of spirit are reflected in all the work that takes place."
Poll: Crist The Early Favorite For 2010 Florida Senate Race
A new Strategic Vision (R) poll of Florida shows that Republican Governor Charlie Crist would be the easy favorite to hold this seat, should he decide to run. Crist currently tops Dem Congressman Kendrick Meet by 60%-26%, beats state Senator Dan Gelber 58%-27%, and has similarly huge margins over other Dems -- though this is probably to some extent furthered by his higher name recognition. If Crist doesn't get in, the poll shows other Republicans with narrow leads, and very high undecided numbers.
LaHood Pushing House Republicans On Stimulus
Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood has been making phone calls to his former colleagues in the House Republican caucus, asking them to support the stimulus plan. Republicans who have gotten his calls include Reps. John Mica (FL), Frank LoBiondo (NJ), Steven LaTourette (OH), Shelly Moore Capito (WV), Charlie Dent (PA), and others.
Dem Candidate For Gillibrand's Seat Debuts New Ad
Scott Murphy, a businessman and the Democratic candidate in the March 31 special election for Kirsten Gillibrand's former House seat, is already up on the air with this new ad:
Murphy's challenge in this race is that the Republican candidate, Assembly Minority Leader Jim Tedisco, starts off with much higher name recognition. So it's important for Murphy to get on the air as soon as possible.
Sometimes you have to wonder if there's a method to the madness of Joe Friedberg, Norm Coleman's top lawyer -- or whether he's just plain mad.
Each side has raised concerns about precincts where fewer ballots ended up getting tallied during the recount than were recorded as cast on election night. The reason why is a bit complicated, but it has to do with how the campaigns and election officials dealt with damaged absentee ballots that had been duplicated -- and which the Coleman campaign wants to undo in places where it hurt him.
Naturally, both campaigns have focused on precincts where the loss of votes created a net "gain" for the other guy, in protest of what seems like an obvious disenfranchisement -- though as the Franken campaign notes, it was under a set of rules that everyone agreed to going in, and it cut both ways.
Friedberg had a very odd alternative explanation for a precinct that created a net gain of four votes for Coleman. "Well," he asked Dakota County elections manager Kevin Boyle, "Couldn't a dishonest person have picked up 24 ballots, run them through the machine, and then made them disappear?"