The House came back into emergency session and passed the state aid bill, but not without a ton of carping by Republicans about how this is just another "bailout" for the states, all the while still demanding that the Bush tax cuts for the rich stay in place, which are not paid for and will add to that deficit they keep wailing about.
This afternoon, the House, reconvened for a special emergency vote, passed a $26.1 billion bill providing aid to cash-strapped state governments. The bill provides $16.1 billion in Medicaid funding and $10 billion to help states keep teachers on the payroll.
The Senate passed the deficit-neutral bill last week, 61 to 39. The vote came down on party lines, save for Maine Republicans Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins. After the Senate passed the package, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the Speaker of the House, called members back from their home districts for a special vote on the bill. More than 400 House members returned, and Democrats passed a rule on the measure, 229 to 173. The bill passed 247 to 161, mostly on party lines. Republican Reps. Anh “Joseph” Cao (La.) and Mike Castle (Del.) voted for the bill; Democratic Reps. Gene Taylor (Miss.), Bobby Bright (Ala.) and Jim Cooper (Tenn.) voted no. Read on...
Rachel did a really great segment yesterday on why this money is so badly needed.
MADDOW: But we begin tonight with a programming note. Tomorrow in the great state of Arizona, the Maddow blog which is not me but it is the awesome blog of this show which is in fact better than this show. The Maddow blog is going on a field trip. Laura and Bill, from our staff, are going to the border town of Nogales, Arizona, to help us do some reporting on the Arizona immigration issue.
After they‘re done in Nogales, they‘re going to be hosting a Maddow blog watch party in Tucson tomorrow night. You can check out Maddowblog.MSNBC.com if you‘re interested in that, if you‘re going to be anywhere near Tucson.
Because of the Maddow blog, because Laura and Bill are headed to Nogales, we have been checking out local news there to see what‘s getting covered these days in Nogales, Arizona—and everybody else in the country has been talking about places like Nogales, essentially behind its back, because of the Arizona immigration scapegoating. But we wanted to find out what Nogales itself has been talking about. That‘s the idea behind the reporting trip and that‘s the idea behind why we‘ve been reading their local paper.
Here‘s the front page headline of the “Nogales International” newspaper from Friday. “County Cuts Service: 879 streetlights to turn off.”
To save $90,000, cash-strapped Santa Cruz County in Arizona has decided to turn out the lights, to let 879 streetlights go dark. Times are tough right, like they are everywhere in the country. And this is Santa Cruz County‘s effort to tighten its fiscal belt. They are shutting off the lights.
And, you know, it‘s not just Nogales, Arizona, that is experiencing darker than normal nights right now. Last year, the city of Santa Rosa, California, decided to do the same thing. They removed 6,000 streetlights and turned off another 3,000 more after midnight, an effort to save the city 400 grand.
Earlier this year, officials in Pittsburg, Massachusetts, shut off more than 3,000 of their streetlights.
Colorado Springs, Colorado, turned off about 8,000 of theirs. Colorado Springs has also dropped more than 40 of its police officers. And I kid you not—they have auctioned off their police helicopters. Not because crime of is over—wa-hoo—in Colorado Springs. It‘s because they‘re broke.
Philadelphia has decided to shut down three fire companies every day and three every night—rolling firefighting brownouts in order to try to save Philadelphia some cash.
“The Wall Street Journal” reported recently on the growing number of places across the country where local governments are unpaving the roads. They are turning paved roads into gravel roads because paved roads too expensive to maintain. It is not one little town‘s whacky Luddite solution. It‘s happening in North Dakota, more than 100 miles of road in South Dakota, in 38 counties in Michigan, and it‘s happening in Ohio, and it‘s happening in Alabama, and it‘s happening in Pennsylvania.
Which means that somewhere in China, it is entirely possible that a business person sat down for a ride on a 200-mile-an-hour state-of-the-art levitating bullet train and crack open “The Wall Street Journal” and read about how in America, we‘ve decided we can‘t afford paved roads anymore.
Consider also Clayton County, Georgia. Clayton County, Georgia, decided to solve its budget crisis by ending its public bus service. Not cutting back the number of buses, not suspending bus routes, but shutting down its bus service altogether. More than 8,000 people who rely on that bus service every single day to get to work or school, they are totally out of luck.
Speaking of school, that is where the state of Hawaii has decided to look to for an answer to its budget woes. Public schools in Hawaii have been implementing a four-day school week, just not opening schools on Fridays. Hawaii schools close there are doors on 17 Fridays over the past school year.
Just make do, moms and dads. How are you going to deal with the childcare issue?
Hawaii, of course, is the home state of President Obama, who made the case today that short-changing education, doing thing like say, cutting down the number of school days, is actually counterproductive to keeping the U.S. economy going.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The single most important thing we can do is to make sure we‘ve got a world class education system for everybody. That is a prerequisite for prosperity.
Education is an economic issue. Education is the economic issue of our time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: If that‘s the case, if education is the economic issue of our time, then how exactly is our economy affected by just lopping a whole day of instruction off the school week? How exactly is our economy affected by 46,000 education jobs being lost over the past three months?
In order to prevent more of that, in order to prevent thing like cops and firefighters being laid off and street lights being shut off, something extraordinary is happening in politics this week. Members of the House of Representatives are returning to Washington during their August recess to vote emergency funding for states and local governments—a $26 billion state aid bill that will among other things prevent thousands of teachers from being laid off, which is—if you ask Tea Party activists—it‘s a horrible idea to try to stop teachers from being laid off. Tea Party activists have reportedly planned protests against the aid package in at least a dozen states.
“The Hill” newspaper says, quote, “The activists are upset over $10 billion in the package for a fund to stop teacher layoffs. They argue that states have hired far too many teachers in the last decade and they should be downsizing the pool of teachers rather than asking for a federal bailout.” See, it‘s a bailout now.
That‘s the argument. Class sizes are too small. We need to fire some more teachers, America.
Apparently agreeing with the tea partiers are House Republicans, the vast majority of whom are expected to vote against that state aid bill tomorrow. Earlier today, soon-to-be former Republican congressman, Pete Hoekstra of Michigan, tweeted this. Quote, “On the way to D.C., vote on more deficit/stimulus spending. Spending is destroying America. Time to stop. I‘ll vote no.”
The number three House Republicans, Mike Pence, stated his opposition to the bill this way.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MIKE PENCE ®, INDIANA: I have to tell you, I think the American people are tired of more spending, more bailouts, and I think they‘re going to be frustrated with Congress coming back from a recess when we should be listening to the American people to do more of the same.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: For the record, Mike Pence, along with a number of other Republicans, are now railing against the state aid bill for teachers and cops and firefighters while simultaneously arguing to extend Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans—against the state aid bill, which by the way is totally paid for and wouldn‘t be added to the deficit, they‘re against that. But they are for tax cuts, which are not paid for, and which would add about—roughly $700 billion to the deficit.
Republicans are essentially arguing that rich people can‘t go back to the tax rates they were paying during the Clinton years. In order to prevent rich people from having to go back to those tax rates, in order to prevent that horror movie, we‘re all going to have to take a kick in the teeth. We‘re going to have to just load $700 billion on to the deficit. Sure, it will hurt, it‘s awful, but do it for the rich people. They hurt so bad in the ‘90s, we can never ask them to go back to that.
Now, as for you people who have kids in public schools, you folks are going to have to suffer. We are cutting teachers, we are cutting cops, we‘re cutting firefighters, we‘re cutting streetlights, we‘re cutting buses, we are literally unpaving the roads for you—because spending for you is wrong and it‘s bad for America. Spending for the richest people in the country to have a giant $700 billion tax cut, that‘s right. That‘s good for America.
It‘s a hell of a choice heading into the fall.