The Senate gave up on an economic stimulus bill this week, with Democrats and Republicans at loggerheads over what such a package should contain. We can't say we're sorry: It's been clear all along that no bill would be an outcome preferable to a bad bill, and it was toward a bad bill that things seemed to be heading. But one useful element emerged from the otherwise discarded package, when the Senate voted to extend unemployment benefits for an additional 13 weeks. This is minimal, straightforward, needed relief, and the House should quickly enact it.
- Today's Washington Post
The partisan tide swelled
The Senate majority leader orchestrated the demise of an economic stimulus bill Wednesday, barely one week after Alan Greenspan, the chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, advised Congress that the data on his desk suggested the recovering economy didn't need an extra boost.
The stimulus offensive began smartly. Congress listened to those concerned that the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 would deepen the recession. The leading members of the House and Senate budget committees quickly agreed to a set of principles that would drive a stimulus package.
Then, the partisan tide swelled. House Republicans abandoned the principles with proposals to accelerate reductions in individual tax rates and to repeal the corporate minimum tax. President Bush hardly discouraged their efforts. Soon, Democrats began to posture, seeing an opportunity to heighten differences between the parties on the eve of an election year.
In the end, the Senate approved a simple extension of unemployment benefits, from 26 weeks to 39 weeks. It might have accomplished more, protecting health coverage for the newly unemployed and encouraging timely business investment. Better, in this instance, to do too little. The overriding principle, after all, is that a stimulus package should do no harm.
- Today's Akron Beacon Journal