Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Senate porks up Stimulus bill.

Politics: Can we just call this a welfare bill considering people who don't pay income taxes are going to get a check.

"....Senators added provisions to the Finance Committee bill to make a "no" vote on the Senate version very difficult, offering federal stimulus checks to 20 million low-income seniors and 250,000 disabled veterans who would be ineligible under the compromise worked out by Bush and House leaders. Senators also tightened wording in the House bill to make it more difficult for illegal immigrants to claim a check.

After the Finance Committee vote, AARP launched a lobbying push to win passage of the Senate version. Advocates of the Senate bill said House-Senate talks should take a few days.

The Senate Finance Committee bill would send checks to virtually every American. Individuals would receive $500 -- for couples, it would be $1,000 -- plus $300 per child. Workers who can show $3,000 in earned income last year -- or seniors who had $3,000 in Social Security benefits -- would also qualify, even if they earned too little to pay income taxes.

After a revolt among Senate Democrats, Baucus added income caps on eligibility that he had initially rejected, but they are considerably more generous than the ones imposed by the House. Rather than capping eligibility for the full check at $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 for couples, the new bill phases out eligibility at $150,000 for individuals and $300,000 per couple. The committee also said no member of Congress would qualify.

The Senate bill also extends unemployment benefits by 13 weeks, includes tax incentives for business investment similar to the House's and allows businesses more generous tax write-offs for their losses.

It adds $5.5 billion worth of tax-credit extensions for wind, solar and other alternative energy sources, as well as incentives for homeowners to make their houses more energy efficient. The committee also accepted an amendment to allow states to offer tax-free mortgage bonds for the ailing housing market.

All of those provisions were left out of the House bill.

As for illegals getting rebates, that almost got passed unnoticed till blogs raised the alarm. Now the Senate and the House are fixing the language and disputing that illegals were able to get rebates in the first place. That was the case, why fix the language?

The Senate Finance Committee has added language to the economic stimulus bill that would only allow Social Security numbers to be used for taxpayers who want to receive the tax rebate proposed by Congress.

The change comes after a growing number of conservatives raised concerns that illegal immigrants, using individual taxpayer identification numbers (ITINs), would receive tax rebates under the bill passed by the House Tuesday. The Politico reported the controversy earlier today.

Senators hope the stricter use of Social Security numbers instead of the temporary taxpayer IDs will stop undocumented immigrants from receiving the $500 or $1,000 rebates. The Finance Committee passed the bill 14-7, and the Senate could vote on the bill tomorrow.

"We think this covers it so people here illegally don't get the benefits," said Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.).

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