Wednesday, February 06, 2008



Sometimes one vote means an awful lot. Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe cast a deciding vote in the U.S. Senate today, a vote that puts into stark contrast for Oklahomans being represented by a practitioner of a Greed and Selfishness philosophy of government like Inhofe or being represented by a we're all in the boat together kind of problem solver like Andrew Rice, the young populist running for Inhofe's seat. The issue was the crucial bipartisan economic stimulus bill meant to send put between $500 and $600 directly into the pockets of American taxpayers, particularly seniors and disabled veterans who are being especially hit hard by the Bush Recession.

The legislation Inhofe managed to kill today would have extended unemployment insurance for the long-term unemployed, provide tax breaks to businesses to spur investments and prevent layoffs, and add $1 billion for heating assistance to help families meet high energy bills. Inhofe is working with a small cabal of extremist legislators to substitute a stingy bill that would do little to stimulate the economy and would exclude 20 million seniors and disabled veterans from receiving rebates; it does not include the extended unemployment insurance, heating assistance funds, or extension of tax incentives to increase clean energy and energy efficiency. 

This is exactly the kind of legislation Oklahomans should be thinking about when they go to the polls next November and pick between Inhofe and Andrew Rice, who would have voted for the economic stimulus bill, like all Democrats and more than a few Republicans. It needed 60 votes to get through the obstructionist tactics Inhofe and Mitch McConnell had engineered but it came up one vote short-- 59 to 40. Andrew has been endorsed by Blue America and you can donate to his campaign here. (As usual, McCain couldn't be bothered coming back to the Senate to vote; he's too busy collecting money from special interests for his presidential bid. Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama made sure they were on the Senate floor to vote for the bill.)

Andrew, out meeting with Oklahomans and talking with them about the issues that are important to them, sent DWT this statement:
There is growing evidence that Oklahomans are starting to feel the effects of a stumbling economy. I believe the Senate's stimulus package would have given our hard working families, seniors and disabled veterans a much-needed lifeline to navigate these difficult times. I am sensitive to their vulnerability at this time and would like to have provided the 60th vote yesterday that could have made it possible.

Here's a video of McCain repeatedly promising to work in the Senate on passing this bill. Unlike Inhofe he didn't even bother to cast a vote or offer a substitute, not even a bad substitute like Inhofe's plan.

Dr. Ivan Holmes, Chairman of the Oklahoma Democratic Party, pointed out that "Inhofe once again turned his back on fellow Oklahomans today when he had an opportunity to help them cope with the nation's growing economic crisis." Holmes said the measure would have:
*  provided income tax rebates to 98 percent of Oklahoma taxpayers, including  440,000 Social Security beneficiaries and 56,000 disabled veterans;

            * extended unemployment benefits by an additional 13 weeks to the state's idled  workers (4.5 percent in December);

            * added $1 Billion to the nations' low income energy assistance program to help low income workers cope with rising energy costs;

            * extend by one year several alternative energy tax initiatives to help America  achieve energy independence sooner rather than later;

            * allow businesses to add 25 percent depreciation of assets in '08 and '09 and to  use current losses to offset their previous five years of taxes rather than the two  years allowed by current law.

"This is one more example showing that Senator Inhofe is insensitive to the hardships faced by average Oklahomans," Holmes said.  "The Senate stimulus package offered numerous ways to boost our economy by giving low and middle income workers critical financial relief. His only answer seems to be 'let them eat cake'... With Senator Inhofe's vote, the Senate could have overcome minority objections to this important economic stimulus and given thousands of hard working Oklahoma families an opportunity to ride out this rough patch we're in."

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At 9:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you give money to un-employed, what's the incentive to become employed.

I don't see the point of putting the entire nation on welfare. During the months of march, april, and may, most taxpayers as well as recipients of the "welfare in tax refund clothing" EIC will be getting checks in the mail and 90% will blow the money just as our short sided congressional leaders want us to do. Why do we need to send out a second "rebate" check in may?


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