President Obama's economic stimulus package has passed its initial test in the U.S. House of Representatives. So, prepare for stimulation!
The average worker will see an additional $12 to $13 a week, thanks to lower withholding, according to an analysis by the New York Times. The unemployed will see a continuation of unemployment benefits.
Republicans want more tax cuts, and they all voted against the package, a factoid that is being headlined this morning by a media that is infatuated with political good and bad guys rather than an analysis of what's in the bill.
The Tax Policy Center has issued a report card on all of this. It gave generally high grades to provisions that puts money in the hands of low-income people, because they're more likely to spend it. Obama's plan calls for a $500 tax credit for individuals and $1,000 for couples. A letter-writer in today's Star Tribune suggests that people who make more than $105,000 should be taxed higher in Minnesota, revealing a shortfall in the calculations of how effective the package is going to be: Of the money being sent our way, how much will be siphoned by increases state, county, or city taxes and fees?
Are you thinking about buying a home? There may be some incentive coming along, CNN reports.
The cost? About $6,000 per taxpayer or $2,800 for every person in America.
Will it work? At the heart of the stimulus philosophy: No matter how you benefit, you have to spend it. Will you?(3 Comments)
I have no real comment to make here. But I can watch this all day.
CNBC's resident curmudgeon Mark Haines let talk show host Rush Limbaugh have it today. The media has suddenly rediscovered Limbaugh, and has taken him to task for saying he hopes Barack Obama fails. Limbaugh, has a commentary in today's Wall St. Journal called "My bipartisan stimulus."
"I'm just trying to build roads and bridges to the administration for bipartisanship and fairness," he said in his introduction.
Nobody will ever confuse Haines with the liberal media, so this exchange was significant.
Haines: I'm sorry, but a week after the inauguration, you said you "hope he fails." Are you now admitting that that was a stupid and mean-spirited thing to say?
Limbaagh: No, it was an accurate thing to say. It was an honest thing to say. It came after...
Haines: How is that bipartisan?
Limbaugh: Well,let me explain...
Haines: Well, so far you haven't.
Limbaugh: You're being contentious with no reason. It came after a thorough explanation on my part that liberalism, which is what Obama represents...
Haines: (Somewhat off microphone) Ah, geez....
Limbaugh: ... destroys the free market, destroys capitalism. This stimulus plan is all about re-FDRing America... the new New Deal and as a conservative, I want liberalism to fail. i want the country to succeed and that's what I meant and that's what I said over and over again. You've got to stop reading these left-wing liberal media...
Haines: I just listen to you, Rush, I don't listen to anybody. I listen to you, and what I hear is hypocrisy. You are saying in this piece, you say :
The American people are made up of Republicans, Democrats, independents and moderates, but our economy doesn't know the difference. This is about jobs now. The economic crisis is an opportunity to unify people, if we set aside the politics.
Haines: ... and yet the first thing out of your mouth is politics, about liberal and conservative and Republican and Democrat.
Limbaugh: (Stumbling) You know, this vote that happened in the house yesterday is actually a failure. The bipartisan vote was the defeat; 11 Democrats, 20 Republians. The partisan vote was all Democrats. He wants Republicans on the bill, Mark, because he knows this isn't going to work. He wants Republicans so he has cover, so they can't run for re-election, saying this wasn't his debacle. I'm trying to propose something here that will work, for the best of the country. How can that be hypocritical.
Eventually, Haines' co-host, took over the interview from Haines, reassuring America that what Limbaugh really meant was that he hopes liberalism fails.
But before ending, Haines got one more shot in.
Haines: Here's something I find interesting. You talk about the vote being roughly 54 to 46 in favor of Obama... but when the vote was 51-49, I don't remember you being this concerned about Republicans.
Limbaugh: I think bipartisanship is a joke.
The resurrection of Democrats in Washington is the best thing that could have happened to right-wing talk radio -- and Limbaugh's career in particular. It's led some to suggest that Limbaugh, rather than party leaders, is now the new face of the Republican Party.(9 Comments)
MPR's Midday program continues the examination of Gov. Pawlenty's proposed budget cuts during its first hour today. University of Minnesota president Robert Bruininks and James McCormick, chancellor of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System are the guests.
Their view is how it looks from their offices. But the human face of the budget proposals can best be found at the micro-level.
Take Joe Neumayer, who I met yesterday during my visit to Minneapolis Community and Technical College. He says he "feels God's calling" to be a certified nursing assistant. He's also on General Assistance, and stands a chance of being caught up in the proposed cuts. The eligibility for General Assistance may be pared to the federal poverty level.
"You almost can't be working (to get help)," he said, which is a problem for him since the entire point of his going back to school and getting help is that he can work.
"I'm trying to get off it, but I have a problem where I start jobs and have to quit due to my depression, but I'm trying to overcome that," he said. "I'm trying to see doctors and psychiatrists. But I'm trying real hard out there; I'm pressing forward."
He's also concerned about whether higher education cuts will make it too difficult to get the training he needs to become a nurse assistant.
"You've got people who have mental illnesses that need this type of program. They have no choice," he said. "They can't go to work. They're also seeing psychiatrists and doctors. Then you have people taking advantage of the system. Those people need to be addressed. We can't have that go on. If they're going to do any cuts, they need to cut the people just coming into the program and look at what their mental illness is."
I'll be on All Things Considered tonight with Tom Crann, talking about what I've learned so far during the News Cut on Campus "tour." My theme this evening will be the number of people who wish they'd made different choices when choosing a career path in high school, and the story of one person who wishes her parents had told her she was making a mistake.
(Update: Here's the dance mix -- Listen)
That's why I've taken note today of an idea being considered at the Capitol on the subject of career paths: Requiring students to have one.
On Tuesday, a House committee heard recommendations from the Governor's Workforce Development Council, one of which would require high school students to develop a plan for their future careers as early as the ninth grade.
According to the Legislature's Session Daily report, "Executive Director Brenda Norman presented the recommendation that every Minnesota student, from ninth grade on, should have an annually reviewed plan to guide them down an educational and occupational path of their own choosing."
There are, of course, two schools of thought on this:
Rep. Steve Gottwalt said he was concerned about adopting a European-style plan. "I get awfully concerned when we're talking about mandating things on ninth-graders and graduates in high school...The fact that we might require them to start building a career path too early or too arbitrarily is a bit of a concern."
"Ninth grade, to me, is almost too late to be thinking about where they want to be going," countered Rep. Jeanne Poppe.
This question sent me into the Wayback Machine to my youth, which -- for the record -- was not in Europe. We had two tracks in high school and kids were separated in 10th grade -- the college track vs. the "business" track.
As a member of the esteemed college track, I was told by my guidance counselor that I would be an engineer, because that's where the jobs were in the early '70s, especially in my declining New England milltown. So he loaded me up with a planned schedule that included trigonometry and physics and a whole host of classes for smart people that I had no hope of passing or any interest in attending. Back then, however, I often did as I was told.
That afternoon I showed my mother my planned schedule and her jaw dropped.
"I thought you wanted to be a journalist," she said.
It was a forehead-slap moment. "Oh... right," I said. "I forgot."
It provides a good reminder that lives are changed by parents who'll slap you on the side of the head and tell you when you're being stupid.
And that brings us to the question for discussion. Is your career path a matter of discussion between a student and parents only or should the law require you to choose a career path by a certain point?(33 Comments)
Around 10 a.m. on Friday, you can go online and see the draft framework the Minnesota Department of Public Health is going to use to determine who gets "critical health care resources" in the event of a flu pandemic. It's more a matter of when, not if, a pandemic hits us, the Minnesota Department of Health says.
When it does, up to 30,000 Minnesotans may die.
Who should get first crack at life-saving vaccines, drugs, or equipment such as antiviral masks? That's what the guidelines will reveal. For example, health care workers would seem to be first in line for vaccine, but there won't be enough vaccine, so which health care workers should get it first?
One of the things the federal government has advised states is to be prepared for strong suspicions and distrust. Guidelines also said "social worth" should be considered.
In ordinary circumstances, the distribution criterion, 'to each according to his or her social worth,' is not morally acceptable. However, in planning for a pandemic where the primary objective is to preserve the function of society, it is necessary to identify certain individuals and groups of persons as 'key' to the preservation of society and to accord to them a high priority for the distribution of certain goods such as vaccines and antiviral drugs. Identification of key individuals for this purpose must be recognized for what it is: it is a social worth criterion and its use is justified in these limited circumstances. Care must be taken to avoid extension of the evaluation of social worth to other attributes that are not morally relevant.
Here's the Web site that will be active at 10 a.m. You'll be able to comment on the draft framework.