House Democrats’ Stimulus Plan Mirrors Baucus’ Efforts in Senate

Posted January 7, 2003 at 9:56am

As President Bush on Tuesday unveils his $674 billion, 10-year stimulus package aimed at bolstering the economy primarily by reducing or eliminating taxes, Democrats continued to press alternate plans that focus more on financial aid for states and low-income workers.

First new House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) unveiled her Caucus’ less expensive one-year plan that she claims will be targeted more to lower- and middle-class workers.

And a spokesman for Senate Finance ranking member Max Baucus (D-Mont.) told Roll Call on Tuesday that he stands by his plan — first unveiled in December — to give states $75 billion this fiscal year to offset budget shortfalls and to stave off additional layoffs.

Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has expressed his desire to work with Baucus and other Senate Democrats to forge a bipartisan package.

In explaining the rationale for his overall $160 billion plan for fiscal 2003, Baucus has said states collectively are facing a $70 billion deficit, which could prompt state lawmakers to slash spending and raise taxes.

Baucus said the one-time federal government “revenue sharing” would eliminate the need for such steps. His plan is similar to the one outlined Monday by House Democratic leaders.

They envision the federal government pumping $136 billion into the economy this year.

While that plan does not discuss “revenue sharing” with states, it does offer $31 billion to state and local lawmakers.

Specifically, the plan would give state and local governments $10 billion to cover homeland security costs; $5 billion for highway and infrastructure construction; $10 billion for Medicaid expenses; and an additional $6 billion for “critical” needs in 2003.

Both Democratic plans would also extend unemployment benefits for those who already have, or soon will, exhaust their federal benefits.

House Democrats would grant a “refundable” tax rebate of up to $300 per person or $600 per couple while Baucus’ proposal would eliminate income tax on the first $3,000 of workers’ 2003 wages. Additionally, low-income workers would get a 10 percent “rebate” on the first $3,000 of their wages.