Stimulus bill passes: What's in it for Iowa?

President Barack Obama will have a very large bill to sign on Monday. Yesterday the U.S. House of Representatives passed the $787 billion economic stimulus bill by 246 to 183. As expected, no Republicans voted for the bill. Iowa’s three Democrats in the House voted for it. Looking at the roll call, I was surprised to see that only seven House Democrats voted against this bill (one voted “present” and one did not vote). I did not expect that much support from the 50-odd Blue Dog Democrats. Good for them!

In the Senate, supporters of the stimulus managed exactly 60 votes after Senator Sherrod Brown flew back from Ohio, where he was attending his mother’s wake. All Democrats, two independents, and three Republicans (Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins and Arlen Specter) voted for it. According to Specter, at least a few other Senate Republicans supported the bill but were afraid to vote for it (fearing a challenge from the right in the next GOP primary). I’m no fan of Specter, but I give him credit for casting a tough vote today. As brownsox explains, conservative Republicans in Pennsylvania are eager to take Specter out in the 2010 primary, having apparently forgotten how badly right-wing Senator Rick Santorum got beaten in 2006.

Daily Kos diarist thereisnospoon, a self-described “hack” who conducts focus groups for a living, is giddy about the potential to make Republicans pay in 2010 for voting against “the biggest middle-class tax cut in history.”

On the whole, this bill is more good than bad, but I agree 100 percent with Tom Harkin’s comments to the New York Times:

Even before the last touches were put to the bill, some angry Democrats said that Mr. Obama and Congressional leaders had been too quick to give up on Democratic priorities. “I am not happy with it,” said Senator Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa. “You are not looking at a happy camper. I mean they took a lot of stuff out of education. They took it out of health, school construction and they put it more into tax issues.”

Mr. Harkin said he was particularly frustrated by the money being spent on fixing the alternative minimum tax. “It’s about 9 percent of the whole bill,” he said, “Why is it in there? It has nothing to do with stimulus. It has nothing to do with recovery.”

The $70 billion spent on fixing the alternative minimum tax will produce little “stimulus bang for the buck” compared to most forms of spending. The upper middle class and upper class earners who will benefit are likely to save rather than spend the money they get back.

As exciting as it is to see increased funding for high-speed rail, I fear that the bulk of the much larger sum appropriated for roads will go toward new highway construction rather than maintaining our existing infrastructure.

But I’ve buried the lede: what will the stimulus bill do for Iowa?

Iowa Politics linked to two White House documents about the impact in terms of spending and jobs created. This pdf file estimates the number of jobs created in each state and in each Congressional district within that state. It estimates 37,000 jobs created in Iowa: 6,600 in the first district, 7,000 in each of the second and third districts, 6,700 in the fourth district and 6,200 in the fifth district.

Prediction: Tom Latham and Steve King will take credit for infrastructure projects in their districts during the next election campaign, even though both voted against the stimulus bill.

This pdf file shows how much money Iowa will receive under different line items in the stimulus bill. Even more helpful, it also shows the figures for the original House and Senate bills, so you can get a sense of which cuts were made. The bill that first passed the House would have directed $2.27 billion to Iowa. The first Senate version reduced that number to $1.8 billion. The final bill that came out of conference directs about $1.9 billion to Iowa.

If you delve into the details of this document you’ll understand why Harkin isn’t thrilled with the bill he voted for. They took out school construction funds and extra money for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), for crying out loud.

“Bizarro Stimulus” indeed.

Iowa Independent reports that Harkin and Chuck Grassley “agree that the newly conceived formula used to distribute the $87 billion Medicaid portion of the bill shortchanges Iowa.”

After the jump I’ve posted statements from Representatives Dave Loebsack and Bruce Braley on the stimulus bill. Both talk about the jobs that will be created in Iowa. Loebsack emphasizes the tax cuts that 95 percent of American families will receive as a result of this bill. However, he also expresses his concern about what he views as inadequate funding for modernizing schools in the final bill.

Braley’s statement highlights an amendment he wrote providing low-interest loans for biofuels producers.

I would have been happy to post a statement from Leonard Boswell too, but his office has repeatedly refused my requests to be added to its distribution list for press releases. Hillary Clinton may have a prestigious job in Barack Obama’s cabinet and Joe Lieberman may be welcome in the Democratic Senate caucus, but Boswell’s press secretary seems ready to hold a grudge forever against the blogger who supported Ed Fallon.  

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