Senator Roberts: Stimulus Shortchanges Kansas; Contains Government Spending & Little Tax Relief

WASHINGTON, DC – February 17, 2009 – (RealEstateRama) — U.S. Senator Pat Roberts today said the economic stimulus conference report contains massive increases in government spending, scales back critical tax relief and will not provide growth or jobs in the private sector. Roberts will vote against the legislation.

“This conference report is a missed opportunity. We had an opportunity to provide pro-growth policies that put money directly into the pockets of families and businesses. Instead, the Majority has managed to increase spending at the expense of this tax relief. Now we have a bigger government, little short term economic relief, more debt for our children and grandchildren and fewer dollars in the hands of Kansans. There are also troubling health care provisions in this stimulus bill that need further scrutiny.”

The bill cuts tax relief to $400 per individual, $800 per couple for middle income workers, down from $500 and $1,000 respectively and reduces tax incentives approved by the Senate to help qualified homebuyers to purchase a home. It also expands tax relief to those who do not even pay taxes. The bill increases government spending for many federal programs, including $300 million for new cars for federal employees. Funding for Amtrak was increased from $850 million in the Senate version to $1.3 billion in the conference report. Funding for high speed rail grew by 400 percent between the Senate passed bill and the final conference report. This represents an $8 billion earmark of taxpayer money.

“This bill remains a honey pot for too many special interests,” Roberts said. “It reinforces a growing and dangerous mindset that the government, not private enterprise, personal responsibility and hard work are the creators of wealth and prosperity. It reinforces for individuals, businesses, and state and local governments that the federal government is the source for funding –the honey pot – for WHATEVER you need.”

Small states like Kansas are shortchanged on money going to help those who cannot afford health care due to the formulas used to determine Medicaid funding to states. The stimulus bill gives states assistance through FMAP, the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage, or the federal government’s share of state expenditures for most Medicaid services. Kansas is estimated to receive $450 million. New York will receive approximately $12.65 billion under the conference report, which is $12.2 billion more than Kansas.

The conference report also includes vague health care language to fund comparative effectiveness research (CER) at the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Health and Human Services. CER compares different treatment options to guide doctors and patients as to the best course of treatment.

“I have grave concerns about this provision because of its potential to become a tool for federal interference over the doctor-patient decision making process,” Roberts said.

Roberts was part of a successful, bipartisan effort to clarify this language in the Senate version of the bill to ensure such research could not be used to federalize doctor-patient relationships and decision making, however, the language was left out of the conference report.

CONTACT: Sarah Ross Little or Molly Haase (202) 224-4774

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