Democrats May Speed Up the Spending in Stimulus Package

In response to criticism this week from Republicans, Democratic leaders in the Senate are discussing provisions to be included in the stimulus package that would speed up the release of funds into the overall economy.

The Hill reports:

Senate Democrats, in response to GOP criticism, announced Thursday that they would speed up the spending component of the economic stimulus plan.

Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said Democrats are “sensitive” to points made Wednesday by Republicans, who cited a Jan. 15 Congressional Budget Office report that said only a small amount of the stimulus funds would be spent in the plan’s early stages.

Durbin said Democrats discussed the idea during a Thursday policy meeting and will coordinate accelerated spending with the White House.

“You’re going to hear from the administration that the Senate version of this is going to have a faster spendout over a shorter period of time. We’re sensitive to that,” Durbin said.

“You can’t spend it all immediately, but you’ve got to really move it in fast if it’s going to have an impact,” he added. “And I think you’re going to hear a comeback from the administration that (Republicans) are exactly right.”

Here is what the Congressional Budget Office report said, which prompted the Republican backlash:

According to the report, of the $355 billion in discretionary funds requested by House Democrats, only $26 billion would reach the economy this year, and only $136 billion by Oct 2010.

That prompted Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to issue a stern rebuke on Wednesday, telling reporters that the stimulus package was “drifting” off course into a long-term spending plan.

“It’s our view that we need to try to craft this in such a way that it is truly stimulative in nature, and not exacerbate the problem that we all know exists,” McConnell said.

And some Senate Democrats just can’t seem to let go of a provision which allows bankruptcy judges to re-write mortage terms, even though it has been soundly defeated by Republicans in the past.  They still may add it to the stimulus, which may significantly decrease bipartisan support for the package.

Durbin also said Democratic leaders are still weighing whether to include in the stimulus a controversial component to rewrite bankruptcy laws. The provision, which would allow bankruptcy judges to revise mortgage terms, was strongly resisted by Republicans and defeated several times last year.

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