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EPW Policy Beat: Obama's Plan: More Games, All Politics, and Further Delays
September 13, 2011

Posted by Katie Brown Katie_Brown@epw.senate.gov

  EPW Policy Beat: Obama's Plan: More Games, All Politics, and Further Delays

Strong Bipartisan Majority Already Rejected Key Aspects of President's Latest Stimulus

As the details of President Obama's latest stimulus plan begin to come to light, we are struck by how familiar it is - and how many pieces of the proposal are just more of the same ideas that have already been rejected by overwhelming bipartisan opposition.

While the President is correct to recognize that infrastructure funding is one of the best ways to create jobs, his newest plan, as many in the press are pointing out, is just the same proposal he laid out last Labor Day, which failed even to gain the support of his fellow Democrats. After the announcement of his proposal last year, Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) said, "I will not support additional spending in a second stimulus package," and then-Representative John Salazar (D-CO) said that he was "skeptical of new spending." An editorial in the Denver Post even called it a "lousy idea." Part of the problem is that the President's record on infrastructure has been abysmal. His 'no-stimulus' plan allocated only 3% of the bill's funding for highway infrastructure projects, while dedicating a majority of the funds to wasteful spending, which utterly failed to stimulate the economy.

Then there's his proposal to increase taxes on oil and gas companies - a plan that has already been rejected by overwhelming opposition in the Senate. The Sanders amendment (SA. 4318) to the Tax Extenders Bill, which mirrors the President's latest proposal, was defeated by a vote of 35 to 61, despite having the Senate's largest Democrat majority in over 30 years.  Both sides of the aisle clearly recognized that such tax increases would only raise gas prices, destroy thousands of American oil and gas jobs, and make the United States even more dependent on foreign oil.

No wonder President Obama is insisting that Congress pass the bill immediately. He doesn't want anyone to realize that it contains the same tired ideas that have consistently faced bipartisan rejection.

Instead of injecting large amounts of spending into a one-time stimulus, as President Obama has proposed, a better plan is to work with Congress to pass a bipartisan highway bill. And if the President is truly serious about job creation he will cease his needless war on domestic energy jobs and instead work to provide an environment where they can thrive.  As a recent CRS report reveals, the United States has the largest recoverable resources of oil, gas, and coal of any country in the world.  Unleashing these resources will give our economy a much-needed boost, while Obama's tax increases will do just the opposite.

President Obama should immediately recognize that his tax and spend policies have failed and allow true bipartisan ideas, that are proven to create jobs, take us on the road to recovery. 

EPW Press Roundup

Key moments in Obama's failed infrastructure proposals -numerous Democrats opposed the plan.

 - An additional $60 billion in transportation infrastructure spending is a centerpiece of President Obama's jobs package, although many of the administration's proposals appear to be borrowed from previous initiatives that went nowhere in Congress... But the administration's proposed quick infusion of spending for transportation projects sounds broadly similar to the $50 billion program Obama proposed in a Labor Day speech last year as an immediate down payment on a multi-year surface transportation bill. That idea fell flat in Congress, with many lawmakers expressing concern that it was strangely constructed and vaguely defined. (CQ, Obama's Jobs Proposal Includes $60 Billion in Transportation Spending, 9/9/11) 

 - President Obama sent the legislative language of his jobs bill to Congress Sept. 12 along with $467 billion in tax code changes he proposes to use to pay for the measure, even though those proposed tax changes have been rejected by lawmakers in the past. (BNA, Obama Sends Jobs Bill To Congress,GOP Immediately Shoots Down Old Offsets 9/13) 

 - The other major transportation aspect of the $447 billion jobs package is the creation of a national infrastructure bank, but that issue also is unlikely to be adopted by Congress. The proposal would establish an American Infrastructure Financing Authority, to be capitalized with $10 billion, that would provide credit and attract private capital for infrastructure projects. President Obama has proposed a variant of the bank in each of his first three budget requests, but Congress has yet to authorize it. Lawmakers' main arguments against the bank are that it would not fund enough rural projects and that it would give a federal entity power over additional transportation money. (BNA, Prospects Dim for White House Jobs Bill's Spending On Transportation Infrastructure, 9/13)

 - President Obama's new $50 billion infrastructure initiative --- part of his $447 billion American Jobs Act (AJA)---offers no surprises. It's almost an exact replica of his FY 2012 budget request which included a sum of $50 billion for transportation to "jump start" a proposed $556 billion six-year surface transportation reauthorization. The rhetoric may have changed --- Obama avoided using the terms "stimulus" and "infrastructure" in presenting his ALA initiative to Congress---but the substance of the two initiatives is remarkably similar. Both proposals would fund the same mix of programs (highways, transit, Amtrak, high-speed rail, aviation and the TIFIA credit program) and both would establish a National Infrastructure Bank... The same reasons that led Congress to ignore the Administration's FY 2012 transportation budget request willlikely causethe lawmakers to rejectthe new transportation initiative.Theyare skeptical thata fresh infusion of fundswill succeeed where the firststimulusfailed.Doing the same thing overand over again and expecting different results may not be exacly insanity but it does suggest a certain unwillingness to face up to reality.(Innovation News Briefs, Obama's New $50 Billion Infrastructure Stimulus --- Old Wine in New Bottles 9/12)

Obama Attacks on Oil and Gas Already Rejected Overwhelmingly by Democratic Senate in 2010

 - President Barack Obama detailed a familiar list of oil and gas industry incentives he wants to scale back to help pay for the $450 billion jobs plan he sent to Congress on Monday. Obama included virtually the same list of tax breaks to repeal as he had in his fiscal year 2012 budget proposal and previous budgets....But the politics remains much the same as in past efforts to repeal the incentives, with many Republicans and oil-state Democrats largely opposed to such efforts to single out one industry, especially without broader tax reform. (Politico Pro, Obama's jobs plan repeats past attacks on oil tax breaks 9/13)

 - OBAMA GOES AFTER OIL AND GAS TAXES ... AGAIN - Obama's $450 billion jobs plan would be paid for in part by scaling back a list of tax incentives for the oil and gas industry if the president had his way. The thing is, on this point, the president likely won't. Obama included virtually the same wish list in his 2012 budget proposal and his proposals from years past, but the plans have been nonstarters in Republican- and Democrat-controlled Congresses alike. (Politico Pro Morning Energy http://politico.pro/nqvc7U%209/13)

 - With his new proposal, Obama seems poised to reignite the oil and gas tax break debate that dominated Capitol Hill energy discussions this spring. It was a discussion that died over the summer after the Senate voted down a measure that would have repealed several tax breaks for the largest oil companies in order to pay down the deficit by $21 billion over the next decade. At an address at the White House today, Obama seemed willing to dive into that debate again. (E&E News, Obama proposal slashes industry tax breaks to fund jobs program, 9/12)

 - President Obama on Monday asked Congress to end subsidies for all oil and gas companies, which could save the government more than $4 billion a year, to help pay for his jobs bill. It's a shift from recent Democratic efforts to end tax breaks for just the five major oil companies... But the president's proposal goes beyond what many congressional Democrats are seeking. Earlier this year, they introduced legislation to repeal oil and gas subsidies, but their measures focused on just the nation's five biggest oil companies-Shell, Chevron, ExxonMobil, BP, and ConocoPhillips.

 - Oil-state Democrats like Sen. Mark Begich of Alaska effectively argued that smaller and independent companies would be pushed out of drilling in the Gulf of Mexico if they lost those tax breaks. That, Begich and others argued, could lead to job losses in smaller oil and gas companies and allow the big oil companies to monopolize drilling in the Gulf. Obama had at one point been behind the effort to limit the repeal to just the five largest companies as well. (National Journal, Reigniting Subsidy Debate, Obama Takes on Oil, Gas 9/12) 

 - Barring that, the measures outlined by the administration include several measures previously rejected by Congress under both Republican and Democratic control. These include putting a 28 percent cap on deductions and exclusions claimed by taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes above $250,000 for married couples and $200,000 for individual taxpayers. That would take effect Jan. 1, 2013. Also, the administration wants to close loopholes affecting corporate jets, drilling for gas and oil, depletion on oil and gas wells, and modification of foreign tax credits. (National Journal, Obama Gets Specific in His Jobs Bill, 9/12)

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