Economic Stimulus and the 2008 Vote

Behind The News
January 24, 2008 12:46:20 PM PST
If it weren't an election year, would all these Democrats have gone along with the "economic stimulus package" proposed by the White House? I'm no Harvard MBA, but it seems hard to believe they would have.

Unless of course one thinks that $300 in tax rebates is going to offer enough financial fuel to re-energize the economy.

Again, hard to believe.

But at a time of growing deficits, a tax rebate is what we're getting. There are some criticisms: no extension of unemployment benefits, no increase in food stamps. It's not a done deal - but it appears it will be.

Will it work? That remains the question.

Similarly, it's hard to totally understand Mayor Bloomberg's property tax rebate for New York City residents, in light of projected budgets that are billions in the red. Would he, a successful multi-billionaire businessman, have proposed real estate tax breaks if he weren't eyeing a run for the White House? Hard to believe.

We'll have the latest on the stimulus package, tonight at 11.

While the attention was on the economic stimulus package, there was a fierce debate going on among Senators, who are updating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

The issues are substantial: should phone companies be given immunity, retroactively, for handing over Internet data and phone records to the intelligence community, without warrants?

"Lets not be so frightened out of our minds by terrorism," said Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy just before Senators began voting, "... that we go back to the situation we had when I first got here in the Watergate era when the government was spying on people... we don't want to go back to that time."

We'll have the latest, at 11.

Also at 11, we're watching the Republican Presidential candidates debate in Florida tonight. It will be interesting to watch Rudy Giuliani in action after his horrible showings in the primaries so far. His professed strategy of not concentrating on the early contests and waiting for Florida has come under intense scrutiny and criticism.

Today, when asked at a news conference in Boca Raton if he was going to drop out of the race if he doesn't win in Florida next Tuesday, the former New York Mayor was at his doublespeak best. I'm including his verbated quote, so you can try to make sense of his answer.

Said Giuliani: "I'm going to continue my campaign. I have no plans to end my campaign. Of course I anticipate winning Florida, because I don't go into a campaign anticipating losing. I have no reason to not anticipate winning. We are very very competitive. In some polls very very close. In some polls, we even had a poll where we were first. We've been second to, second to Mitt Romney, second to McCain. When you look at these polls they are all over the place. I think we are in good shape here and for an election that is as fluid as this we got a very good chance."

I hope that clears that up.

There's also the last "congestion pricing" public meeting tonight, before a commission comes up with a final proposal.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Scott Clark with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER


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