The Stimulating Senators From Maine

Crossposted at The Rockefeller Republican

Who is going to be the most powerful woman in America? Hillary Clinton? Michelle Obama? Sarah Palin? No. No. No. Susan Collins? Olympia Snowe? Maybe. The two senators from Maine are shaping up to be two of the most powerful members of the next Congress, male or female. That is what I said back in December, and unfortunately I was right. Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine, as well as Pennsylvania’s Arlen Specter risked the anger of their fellow Republicans  to help push the controversial economic spending plan over the finish line earlier this week.

Facing the inevitable backlash over her support for the $827 billion stimulus package, Collins joined Sen. Ben Nelson, D-NE, and other centrist lawmakers to trim out more than $110 billion from the huge package and help push for its passage.

“Well, I know that some of my Republican colleagues are unhappy with the position that I’ve taken,” Collins told FOX News on Saturday. “I hope they will look at the fact that we were able to cut $110 billion of unnecessary spending from this bill. I think that’s a good accomplishment. I also think that it’s important that we do pass a stimulus bill to help turn the economy around.”
What exactly did the Nelson-Collins agreement include? Here is a partial list:
* $7 billion in rural broadband infrastructure

* $1.87 billion for Community Health Center infrastructure

* $64.4 billion for our nation’s K-12 educational system

* $19 billion for a 10% non-refundable tax credit (capped at $15,000) for any home purchase

* $6.4 billion for a down payment on the Energy Superhighway and a Smart Grid

* $9.6 billion renewable energy investments

* $250 million in rural renewable energy Investments

* $42 billion in transportation infrastructure investments

* $6.4 billion for environmental infrastructure including water and sewer infrastructure

* $87 billion in temporary and targeted Medicaid relief to states

* $70 billion for a one year fix for the Alternative Minimum Tax

* $13.9 billion more for Pell Grants to help thousands of college students pay for increases in college costs.

* $13 billion more for Special Education/IDEA to improve education for disabled children

* $3.5 billion for law enforcement, including $1.2 billion for popular Byrne grants for drug task forces.

“This deal represents a victory for the American people,” said Senator Collins. “We came together to tackle the most immediate problem facing the nation. This package cuts $110 billion in unnecessary expenditures. These are not minor adjustments, but major changes. It contains robust spending on infrastructure to create jobs, $87 billion in assistance for states, and assistance to schools, especially for special education and Pell grants. This bill is not perfect, but it represents a bipartisan, effective and targeted approach to the crisis facing our country.” Bipartisan? That is certainly debatable as only 3 Republicans signed on, and those 3 happen to be the most liberal Republicans in the Senate. Even Mr. bipartisan himself, John McCain was actively against this deal.

While right now economists seem split as to whether or not the stimulus will actually work, only time will tell. And even then it may be unclear as the economy is sure to rebound eventually no matter what action the government takes. What remains unquestionable is the fact that the women from Maine have shown they will be players in the new congress, and that is not necessarily good news for Republicans