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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Stimulus Conference Deal: Winners and Losers

A House-Senate conference committee has come up with what will probably be the final version of the economic stimulus package.
From scattered media reports, it looks like the “losers” in the negotiations will be first-time homebuyers and house-flippers who won’t get much of the Senate-passed tax credit for home purchases; and state governments, who will lose most if not all of the flexible federal assistance supplied in the House bill. The AMT “patch” in the Senate bill, that temporarily protects upper-middle-class taxpayers from a big hit on Tax Day, stayed in at a price of $70 billion.
There are garbled reports as to whether conferees did or did not scale back the Obama “Make Work Pay” tax credit, the centerpiece of his campaign’s tax plan.
The one thing that is reasonably clear is that the package will be enacted. The only Republican senator even threatening to leave the reservation after the Senate passed its bill, Arlen Specter, will have a hard time rejecting the conference report unless he’s willing to get deep in the weeds of the differences from the Senate bill. And we will soon see the Obama administration and congressional Democrats thumping the tubs for quick passage of the final bill.
Politically, there’s a lot of grumbling from House Democrats–both progressives unhappy with Senate-passed cuts and Blue Dogs who don’t like unfunded tax cuts–about the AMT “patch,” which survived conference intact (see this Tom Edsall piece for an assessment of the politics of this provision). But it’s unlikely to develop into a revolt on the conference bill itself.

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