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A Bipartisan Fantasy

January 29, 2009

Aid to states in House stimulus bill

House passes stimulus plan, but with no Republican votes




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WASHINGTON — After a sharply partisan debate on Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed an $819 billion economic stimulus package designed to create millions of jobs quickly and give consumers more money to spend.

The vote was 244 to 188. None of the House’s 178 Republican members voted yes.

Despite a fresh plea for cooperation from President Barack Obama, who insisted that “we don’t have a moment to spare,” Republicans spurned the Democratic bill.

The White House tried hard to soften the partisan edges. Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel met privately on Tuesday night with a small group of GOP moderates, but the effort was futile.

“The bill is extremely expensive for what you get out of it,” said Rep. Michael Castle, R-Del.

The measure, which now goes to the Senate — where it’s likely to be changed considerably — has $544 billion in spending and $275 billion in tax cuts. Highlights include a $79 billion State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, which would help state governments with education and other expenses, while $30 billion more would be targeted for highway and bridge construction projects.

The bill also gives most taxpayers breaks of $500 each on their payroll taxes and increases tax breaks for college tuition, first-time homebuyers and child care.

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