Senator Tom Harkin is still not sold on the economic stimulus package that cleared the House earlier this week and has the president’s blessing. The senate has begun discussions and changes are in the works. The Senate Finance Committee is backing a plan that would extend unemployment benefits and ensure poor American’s who’re on Social Security, and don’t pay income taxes, still get a check.
Harkin says those changes mean his reaction to the bill has improved. "It’s gone from frigid to just cool," Harkin says. Harkin not happy with another senate wrinkle to give the tax rebates to individuals who make up to $150,000 a year and couples with $300,000 in annual income.
"I even though the House was too high. The House was ($75,000 for individuals and $150,000 for families). I think, you know, just a hard cap of maybe $50,000 or $60,000 — something like that — without doubling up and all that kind of stuff might be acceptable," Harkin says.
Harkin plans to press for boosting food stamp payments as part of the economic stimulus. "The Senate bill is, I want to make it very clear, is I think is much better than the House bill. It’s more progressive. It’s better for low income families…The one thing that’s lacking, of course, is help with food stamps," Harkin says.
"There are some things in that Senate bill that bothers me. There are some business tax deductions that take place next year. Why are they stuck in there? I mean, if they’re stuck in there, what about helping people on food stamps?" Democrats in the senate went into a closed-door meeting this morning to map out strategy for debate on the bill.