President Barack Obama’s hard fought economic recovery plan struggled through the Senate today on a vote of 61-37. To pass, the measure needed 60 votes. Only three Republicans voted for the $838 billion stimulus bill.
About $108 billion in spending items were whacked from the measure in order to win support from the Republicans. Now, this stimulus bill and the one passed recently by the House will be compressed into one by a House/Senate committee. Democrats are still pushing hard for the final stimulus bill to reach President Obama’s desk for signing next Monday, Presidents Day.
Meanwhile stocks took a serious tumble, 382 points, today. The Dow industrials closed at around 7,888. Today’s Senate stimulus bill vote is not being blamed for the down turn on Wall Street. Instead, some investors and money watchers are pointing fingers at Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s plan for bailing out the banks again, saying it lacks details.
The Treasury Secretary announced the new Financial Stability Plan this morning : “Our plan will help restart the flow of credit, clean up and strengthen our banks, and provide critical aid for homeowners and for small businesses,” Secretary Geithner said. “As we do each of these things, we will impose new, higher standards for transparency and accountability.”
Last night during his first official news conference as president, Obama stressed the need for swift action on his Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Plan: “It is absolutely true that we cannot depend on government alone to create jobs or economic growth. That is and must be the role of the private sector. But at this particular moment, with the private sector so weakened by this recession, the federal government is the only entity left with the resources to jolt our economy back to life. It is only government that can break the vicious cycle where lost jobs lead to people spending less money which leads to even more layoffs. And breaking that cycle is exactly what the plan that’s moving through Congress is designed to do. “