Letter to the Editor

Nelson statement on stimulus package

Sunday, February 8, 2009

February 6, 2009 -- Nebraska's Senator Ben Nelson released the following statement announcing a bipartisan proposal to move the economic recovery package forward in the Senate:

"These days, all too often when tuning into the news we cringe. Layoffs, job losses, poor earnings, business closings, state fiscal problems, foreclosures, global financial troubles and the worried faces of so many Americans.

"Our great nation is mired in the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. My state of Nebraska, usually late to recessions, has been caught by this crisis, too. Thousands of Nebraskans have lost their jobs or been laid off. Many business owners are worried and the economic downturn is affecting everyone's budget and wallet and outlook.

"One of the strongest Nebraska values is our work ethic. But right now a lot of Nebraskans just want to show up for work tomorrow or hope for a better job in the future.

"That's why I have been pleased to work with my good friend, Senator Susan Collins, and a bipartisan group of senators to address this crisis now, to find a plan that creates jobs and restores America's economic strength. We have reached an agreement on a bipartisan plan that does that. With so much at stake, however, and the costs to our children and grandchildren so high, it is important that we get it right.

"The economic recovery bill we support today fuels two powerful engines: major tax cuts for the middle class and to create jobs, and targeted investments in American infrastructure and job growth.

"Our bipartisan group worked long and hard, going line by line, dollar by dollar, to reduce spending from the original bill. We've trimmed the fat, fried the bacon, and milked the sacred cows. The savings to the American taxpayers is $110 billion, hardly the trillion dollars that was mentioned. The total package is $780 billion. The remaining bill consists of tax cuts for the middle class and specific job-creating investments providing long-lasting economic benefits.

"I truly want to thank my colleagues from across the aisle, my good friends and partners in this effort: Senator Susan Collins and Senator Arlen Specter and my good friend from Connecticut, Joe Lieberman. Also, we had the support of a number of our colleagues including the presiding officer on this side of the aisle. I guess I can affectionately call all of us the 'Jobs Squad.'

"They made non-stop efforts to do this work this week. They never lost hope no matter what the word on the street was or if there were one or two leaks of information. We never lost hope. Their guidance and their wise counsel were invaluable as we continued to work to advance and develop this consensus today.

"Our plan pares back a very substantial amount of money that we believed didn't belong in the bill. It didn't belong in a bill that was designed to fix our economy. Many of these proposals will work well in a budget or in another bill. We just didn't think they deserved to be in this particular bill which was about jobs, jobs, jobs. If we ask taxpayers to support it, they deserve to get the most bang for their buck. The remaining plan will generate new jobs, save jobs and expand job opportunities across America as it also boosts our economy.

"We recognize that our plan isn't perfect, but I believe it is responsible and realistic, stimulative and timely and can help deliver economic recovery plan to the American people soon.

"The tax cuts in the recovery plan will reach 95 percent of all Americans, providing direct assistance for struggling middle class American families and to businesses so they can create or preserve jobs.

"The robust $350 billion in tax cuts will put a lot of money in people's pockets, money to buy a car, a refrigerator, a student's college education or equipment for better products. Some say we don't have enough tax cuts. That $350 billion is the exact same amount Congress overwhelmingly approved in 2003 under the previous administration to help the economy at that time.

"Our country can't wait for another day or another approach. The American people expect us, their elected representatives, to pull together in crisis, to do the best we can and to take appropriate action.

"We may not have a choice about the need for a major stimulus effort, but our bipartisan group has made tough choices, and we have improved the economic recovery bill. I believe President Obama and colleagues across Capitol Hill on both sides of the aisle will see this as a serious and effective effort to return America to prosperity."

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