Trying to play catch up here, but following up on the last post, news came out late this week that indeed, light rail and mass transit would take a backseat in the upcoming stimulus package. What, you ask, is deemed important? Taxes! Yes, indeed, it's like the Bush years will never end. Economic problems? Tax cuts! Economy booming? Tax cuts.
Elana Schor of Talking Points Memo caught the admission from Rep. Jim Oberstar (MN-D) in his speech to the U.S. Conference of Mayors. "The reason for the reduction in overall funding...was the tax cut initiative that had to be paid for in some way by keeping the entire package in the range of $850 billion." I don't even know where to begin with this ridiculousness. Is it counting pennies on an $800 billion bill? Or slashing the transit side and leaving the money for road building intact, thereby making the climate change and end to foreign oil dependance initiatives more difficult? These are such stupid, shortsighted concessions to make at a time when even conservative economists are calling for massive public expenditures and large deficits.
Matt Yglesias nails this one, noting that these concessions have amazingly not placated the Republican opposition, who are now demanding more tax cuts. Obama and the Dems need to write the best bill possible and get it passed, end of story. They'll never make enough concessions for the right wingers and the more watered down the bill gets, the less effective it will be.