This was a very busy week on Capitol Hill. Greg Kaufmann provides the highlights:
Obama’s Big Week: Monday was the President’s “fiscal responsibility summit.” Tuesday was his big speech to the joint chamber of Congress, all of which was paving the way for Thursday’s unveiling of the new budget. In it, Obama makes good on a lot of campaign promises — including raising taxes on people earning more than $250,000, as well as multinationals, hedge funders, oil companies; cutting taxes for low- and middle-income people and businesses; raising revenues for clean energy technologies through a cap-and-trade system; making a $634 billion “downpayment” on healthcare reform over 10 years; and $47 billion towards education that includes $2.5 billion in new grants to help low-income students attend college, and expanding Head Start and Early Head Start…. The document makes some important strides in transparency, using a 10-year horizon instead of 5-year, and including the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — which previously were left off the books…other cool random items: no more Yucca Mountain — time to get a new plan; $1 billion for child nutrition programs, including combating obesity which requires spending more money on healthy foods.
Rhetoric Preview: I loved this doozey from Jade West of the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, who told CongressDaily, “This budget clearly divides Americans by resurrecting tired old policies based on class envy and warfare, which punish success. This is a path to transforming the United States into Socialist Europe.”
Bernanke’s Rosy Picture: Fed Chair Ben Bernanke told the Senate Banking Committee that “there is a reasonable prospect that the current recession will end in 2009 and that 2010 will be a year of recovery.” Economist James Galbraith testified to the House Financial Services Committee that Bernanke’s deluded and that could be problematic in terms of crafting sufficiently bold policies: “Chairman Bernanke, in his speech at London in January, said ‘the global economy will recover.’ He did not say how he knows. And the truth is, this is merely a statement of faith. In present conditions the most dangerous position is that of the unfounded optimist.”