Dems Throw Pennies to End Poverty

Max Fraad Wolff Feb 19, 2008

While there are differences of strategy and focus, the Democratic presidential contenders favor homeowner relief, extended unemployment benefit, food stamps, Medicaid funding and state and local grant aid. Some economists contend these types of aid, particularly to the unemployed, create the biggest bang for the stimulus buck by generating more economic activity, but virtually all of these proposals have been excluded during negotiations on the plan.

John Edwards announced a stimulus plan last November. Before dropping out of the race, he campaigned on issues of poverty and called for shifting taxes onto high-income earners, increasing corporate taxes and other progressive economic policies. Edwards’s focus was on poverty and economic assistance to the needy to a greater degree than the media-indulged platitudes of the two leading Democratic candidates.

The Clinton and Obama plans, like their voting records, are similar.

Clinton’s $70 billion plan is slightly smaller, more complex and more specific. Obama’s plan for $75 billion is simpler and closer to the White House-backed plan awaiting the Senate green light. Clinton apportioned more money to distressed homeowners, $30 billion versus $10 billion for Obama. Both, rhetorically at least, sought to extend and expand unemployment insurance. Neither fought hard.

Sen. Clinton offers $5 billion in energy assistance as part of her detailed Five-Part Plan and proposes an additional $40 billion in further rebates if the economy continues to weaken. Sen. Obama suggested an initial round of $250 per individual and $500 per family tax rebate assistance, with more to follow if unemployment rises consistently.

For more analysis by Max Fraad Wolf on the economy, please read:

A Better Way to Stimulate

From Bubble to Rubble: $10 Trillion Home Mortgage Debt Tanks Economy

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