As Congress moves to bail out some of the largest corporations in order to prop up the economy, Main Street is jumping on the bandwagon to ask for a little help in these hard times. Is this the 'new New Deal?'
Democratic Senators are working to pass the Reid-Byrd Econ Stimulus Bill. In response to higher unemployment, rising food costs, higher energy costs, State budgets in crisis, and increased dependence on foreign oil, President-Elect Obama has called for a second stimulus bill to jump start the economy and help Americans recover from the recession.
It is well known that the hits on Wall Street take a few months to trickle down to Main Street. The bill focuses on the areas of society that are being hit the hardest:
Unemployment: "The U.S. economy has lost jobs every month this year, a total of 1.2 million jobs, with almost half of the job losses coming in the last 3 months alone." The bill would extend unemployment benefits by seven weeks in all states.
State Economies: The package includes $37.8 million to help States reduce their share of Medicaid, in order to ease the budget shortfalls affecting local economies.
Auto-Industry Assistance: $25 billion in loans with required long term financial plans.
Tax Relief for New Car Purchasing: to help tax payers afford new cars, while propping up the automobile industry.
High Food Costs: "$445 million for the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program (which would allow 600,000 women and children to receive WIC benefits, meet some of the rising demand due to a faltering economy, and allow states to avoid creating waiting lists). $50 million is included for Food Banks, $8 million for the Commodity Supplemental Food program, and $60 million for senior meals programs (18 million more meals)."
High Energy Assistance: In order to help Americans cope with spiraling energy costs, $500 million is included for weatherization programs.
Energy Independence: The stimulus makes major investments in electrifying vehicles with $300 million for advanced battery research, and $1billion for the advanced battery manufacturing loan guarantee program which will authorize over $3.3 billion in loan guarantees. In addition, the stimulus includes $500 million to help local governments improve energy efficiency; $500 million for additional energy efficiency and renewable energy research, development and deployment; and $140 million for electricity transmission improvements.
Caring for the Environment: Over $5 billion is included for environmental clean up, urban and rural clean water systems, and for maintenance of our parks, forests, and wildlife refuges.
Building Infrastructure and Creating Jobs: The stimulus package includes: $13.5 billion for building and repairing highways, bridges, mass transit, airports, and AMTRAK, creating 470,000 jobs.
Housing: The Committee bill includes $700 million for capital funding grants to public housing agencies and $200 million to provide housing agencies with additional funding to alleviate the increased costs of energy.
Improving the Quality of Life for Military Families: $175 million for the construction, replacement, and improvement of military family housing at Army and Air Force installations, and an additional $75 million for the construction of child development centers at Navy installations.
Education and Job Training: $2.5 billion is included for school repairs, $600 million for youth training and dislocated workers, $200 million for the Community Services Block Grant, and $36 million for homeless education.
Health: $1 billion to restore some of the purchasing power of NIH that was lost because of inflation in the past five years and allow NIH to award as many as 2,700 new research project grants that could lead to cures and treatments for cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and many other devastating diseases.
Small Businesses: The stimulus provides $615 million to support $22.5 billion in zero-fee loans to small businesses under the 7(a) program and the 504 program. The bill also provides $1 million to support $10 million in new microloans for small businesses and $4 million for critical technical assistance for these “micro” borrowers.
Border Security and Crime Fighting: The bill includes over $1 billion for border security and other homeland security investments.
Science: $675 million for NASA, Department of Energy and Cyber Security.
Disaster Assistance: Relief support for farmers facing crop damage, and community disaster loans.
Consumer Protection: 13.1 million to permit prompt implementation of new authorities enacted in the 2008 Farm Bill (P.L. 110-246), $75 million for the FBI for agents to investigate rising claims of mortgage fraud, and $10.5 million for the Treasury Inspector General to conduct critical reviews of bank failures.