Senate Attacks Alternative Transportation in Stimulus

Here’s a not from the Streetsblog network urging folks to call their Senators NOW. There are also efforts going on to specifically strip bike funding…

Senators Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Susan Collins (R-ME) are leading a small group of centrist Senators which, reportedly, is trying to cut the stimulus by about $100 billion. Supposedly, they feel the stimulus is too large. But according to a memo obtained by The Plum Line, they’re also adding in some items as well.

According to the memo, they hope to cut $3.4 billion from public transit, but at the same time, are adding in more money for “additional transportation funding.” Presumably, if they’re cutting transit, that additional funding would go to roads. (It might be airports, I suppose, but I doubt it.)

They’re also cutting such items as Head Start, food stamps, child nutrition, firefighters, COPS hiring, NASA, and the CDC, while adding funding for defense operations and procurement.

The Senators reportedly in the room are Ben Nelson (D-NE), Mark Begich (D-AK), Tom Carper (D-DE), John Tester (D-MT), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Evan Bayh (D-IN), Jim Webb (D-VA), Mark Warner (D-VA), Michael Bennett (D-CO), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Mark Udall (D-CO), Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Susan Collins (R-ME), Arlen Specter (R-PA), Mel Martinez (R-FL), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and George Voinovich (R-OH). We don’t know if all of them support these cuts or not (Carper is a big rail advocate, for example).

This group seemed to be trying to take the mantle of the “responsible” people limiting the stimulus’ excess. Of course, many economists think the stimulus is, if anything, not large enough. If it is to shrink, we should cut those items that won’t spend the money right away. Those of you in defense can correct me if I’m wrong, but any new defense spending would end up going to projects pretty far down the road. Meanwhile, giving poor families food stamps and hiring more police can be spent right away.

Few people actually believed Collins, Nelson, and the rest of this “gang” were trying to actually be responsible spenders. It’s clear, now, that they aren’t even trying to make it look that way.

Call your Senators. Especially those of you who live in Virginia.

Let’s hope Earl is on the conference committee.

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