Another Stimulus Plan Under ConsiderationOther articles in the newsletter from TEFAP Alliance cover the new WIC vouchers, school food priorities, and farm-to-school programs.
Congressional leaders are contemplating a new and bigger stimulus package to help pull the U.S. out of its economic doldrums. Regardless of the Presidential vote outcome, Democrats in the House and Senate are expected to return to Washington, D.C. for a post-election, lame-duck session to try to jump-start the sagging economy.
The new economic stimulus plan will likely contain provisions to directly aid low-income Americans. “We have to prop up consumption,” said Representative Barney Frank (D-MA), chair of the House Financial Services Committee. Two likely elements of any bill would be an extension of unemployment insurance benefits and a temporary increase in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or food stamp benefits. Both actions would channel money to people who would probably spend the money in the slumping retail sector, spend it all, and do so almost immediately.
The $107 billion stimulus measure passed in February 2008 provided tax rebates to most households but did little to influence the economy. The House passed a $60 billion stimulus bill in September that would have boosted SNAP benefits to 105 percent of the Thrifty Food Plan, but it failed in the Senate. A companion Senate measure was proposed that increased SNAP/food stamp benefits 10 percent, added $450 million for the WIC Program, $50 million for The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), $30 million for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), and $60 million for elderly nutrition, but it was never brought up for a vote.
A new package “may have to be larger … in light of the events that have transpired since we had our legislative action on the floor,” stated House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). Consequently, lawmakers are beginning to discuss a $300 billion deal to help forestall any further economic collapse.
Presidential candidate Barrack Obama has been huddling with congressional Democrats fashioning the plan. “We should extend expiring unemployment benefits to those Americans who’ve lost their jobs and can’t find new ones,” he said. Obama’s policy staff also backs money for road and bridge construction as a relatively easy way to create jobs, address infrastructure needs, and pump funds into the economy. The Republican candidate, Senator John McCain, though not completely rejecting Democratic proposals, prefers making expiring tax cuts permanent and lowering corporate taxes instead.
Although President Bush had previously threatened to veto any new stimulus bill, Administration opposition is softening as the economy continues to sour. Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke agreed on October 20, 2008 that, “consideration of a ‘well-targeted’ fiscal package by the Congress at this juncture seems appropriate."
Monday, October 27, 2008
Food assistance in the new stimulus plan?
The lead article in the most recent Foodlinks America newsletter says that food assistance benefits might be included in a new round of economic stimulus.