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Friday, May 6, 2016

Stimulus Plan 2009 -- How does it affect you?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

With each passing day the national and local news reports and conversations around the table at the local coffee shop, have the American public in panic mode.

The economic problems being experienced by all of America and overseas affects each and everyone of us. The concerns of job security, and worry of being able to provide for family and loved ones.

Nationally and locally the economic news is bleak, with major corporations cutting back, requesting government assistance or disbanding long standing divisions and laying off hundreds and in some cases thousands.

On Feb. 13, the House of Representatives and Senate approved the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

President Barack Obama signed the historic bill into affect, starting immediately.

The stimulus plan is intended to provide tax relief to the American population and aid in the recovery of budget deficits of state governments.

With the influx of funding from the federal government, states will be able to continue to provide some essential services and fund new projects which will create new job opportunities nationwide.

The trickle down affect of plant closures and layoffs has touched every facet of society and economic level.

With many programs in jeopardy, this stimulus plan is designed to allow tax breaks and financially assist displaced workers drawing unemployment benefits.

Tax Relief dollar figure amounts -- include $15 billion for Infrastructure and Science, $61 billion for Protecting the Vulnerable, $25 billion for Education and Training and $22 billion for Energy, so total funds are $126 billion for Infrastructure and Science, $142 billion for Protecting the Vulnerable, $78 billion for Education and Training, and $65 billion for Energy.

The outline goals of the plan include:

* Doubling the renewable energy generating capacity over three years.

It took 30 years to reach current levels of renewable energy production. This plan will double that level over three years -- enough power to supply six million American homes.

* Weatherize 75 percent of federal buildings and at least two million homes.

* Computerize American health records in five years, reducing medical errors and saving billions of dollars in health care costs.

* School modernization programs to upgrade 10,000 schools and improve the learning environment for approximately five million children.

* Repair and upgrade the nations road and bridge system.

This investment will be the largest since the creation of the national highway system in 1950.

* Making Work Pay tax credit will allow workers to adjust their withholdings and families with children the extended and increased relief of the Child Tax Credit.

* The bill also requires an unprecedented level of government transparency, oversight, and accountability.

How will this affect me?

The stimulus package has provisions which will affect your paycheck immediately.

For the years 2009 and 2010, the Making Work Pay tax cut means up to $400 for individual and $800 for couples, through a reduction in income tax withholding -- in other words, bigger paychecks.

Eligible workers may need to work with their employers to ensure any adjusted income tax withholding is appropriate for their situation. For example, if all working taxpayers are automatically transferred to the new reduced withholding amount, certain taxpayers may actually owe more taxes when they file their 2009 and 2010 returns.

Eligible self-employed taxpayers can adjust their quarterly estimated payments.

For those taxpayers who do not receive the full amount this year, they will receive the remainder as a credit on their next year's return.

Social Security and SSI recipients, retired and disabled veterans and railroad retirees will get a one-time payment of $250.

The Social Security Administration and Veteran Administration will provide the information about who qualifies for this payment.

Individuals on a federal or state retirement program who do not receive Social Security benefits, can claim a one-time $250 credit, when they file their 2009 tax returns.

If you do receive a retirement income and are still receiving a working paycheck, you will not be allowed to get credit for both or "Double-Dip."

The Recovery Act also has stimulus provisions for the unemployed. Many will receive a boost of $25 in their check.

In addition, the first $2,400 in assistance benefits will be exempt from federal tax in 2009. Eligible unemployed workers paying for COBRA will benefit from a 65 percent federal subsidy for their monthly insurance premiums.

For families with children, the Recovery Act has expanded the Child Tax Credit.

Families begin qualifying for credit with every dollar earned over $3,000. This change could translate into a refundable credit of up to $1,000 for each qualifying child under 17. Refundable credits give taxpayers a real boost because if the person has no tax liabilities, the credit is issued in the form of a refund.

The Act also increases the Earned Income Credit for families with three or more children. The previous EIC benefits were capped at two children. The new Act would increase the beginning point of the phaseout range for all married couples filing a joint return. These changes apply to 2009-2010.

In an effort to make homeownership more affordable, the Act will allow an $8,000 tax credit for first-­time homebuyers. Unlike the incentive passed last year, first-time homebuyers will not have to repay the credit if they own and live in the home for three years.

To qualify for this credit, eligible homebuyers must make their purchase between Jan. 1, 2009, and Nov. 30, 2009.

Taxpayers who have made a first-time home purchase, and already filed their 2008 return, can take advantage of this credit by filing an amendment.

If you filed 2008 returns already and claimed the $7,500 credit, you may amend those returns to claim the balance of this change.

The Act provides for a lifetime credit cap change from $500 to $1,500 for energy-efficient improvements to existing homes. This would include the installation of new furnaces, energy-efficient windows and doors or insulation.

Nearly four million low income students will now be able to qualify for a partly refundable $2,500 tax credit under the American Opportunity Tax Credit.

The Act allows for expanded tax credit for computer and computer technology costs in 2009-2010. Previously, eligible expenses included only tuition, room and board and books, supplies and equipment that were required for attendance at the school.

Taxpayers will be able to gain a tax break on new auto purchases. The Act allows for the deduction of state and local sales and excise taxes paid on the purchase of new cars, light trucks, recreational vehicles and motorcycles purchased from the enactment date of the Act through the end of the year.

This deduction is subject to phase out for taxpayers with AGI in excess of $125,000 for individual or $250,000 for joint filers.

For individuals going green, and purchasing a plug-in Hybrid or for plug-in conversion between the enactment date and before 2012, they will be allowed a tax credit of up to $7,500.

According to a report on OzarksFirst.com, the state of Arkansas is slated to receive $2.1 billion in recovery funding.

Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe stated his goals for the state's share of the economic stimulus money. Officials hope $750 million will filter through the Department of Human Services. $223 million is expected to be used for the food stamp program and $7.2 million to be used for Head Start.

Members of an Arkansas congressional delegation announced the release of $350 million in stimulus funds to be used on state highway projects.

The state will be opening up a Web site soon, to allow Arkansas residents to track stimulus money expenditures.

A press release dated Feb. 26, from the Missouri Budget Project, estimates the $4.3 billion in federal funds the state will receive over the next two years, will boost the state's economy, maintain basic services and create 98,000 jobs. Additional information is available on-line at: www.MoBudget.org

The state of Missouri has already received funds and according to a KY3 TV Web site report, may have been the first in the United States to be able put the stimulus money to use.

A construction crew, contracted to do work on U.S. 60 between Monett and Republic, was just waiting for President Obama to sign the stimulus package, before they could get started. The company hired back some of their employees who had been laid off and were expecting to add some additional new jobs as a result of stimulus funding.

The U.S. Government has set up an information Web site, www.Recovery.com, which is accessible for more detailed information and has the complete bill available to the public.

H & R Block tax service has ongoing information about the Recovery Act on-line www.digits.hrblock.com. They are also providing tax tips at www.hrblock.com/taxes/tax-_tips or via phone at 1-800-HRBLOCK.

In the face of economic crisis in both the industrial and private sector, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act represents a significant investment in the country's future.

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After only two months in office, President Obama may have fallen short on a number of his campaign promises.

As a candidate, he promised to allow public comment before signing bills, eliminate capital gains taxes for small businesses, provide tax credits to businesses for hiring new employees, allow Americans to withdraw funds from 401(k) and retirement accounts without penalties, ban lobbyists from serving in his administration, reform earmarks, bring all combat troops home from Iraq in 16 months, sign the "Freedom of Choice Act," give Americans $4,000 in credits for college and run a "transparent" administration.

However, after giving his word to the American people on so many issues, Obama has yet to fulfill many commitments.

WND has compiled the following extensive list of those abandoned promises:

Broken promise No. 1: 'Sunlight Before Signing'

When Obama campaigned for the Democratic presidential nomination in Manchester, N.H., on June 22, 2007, he announced his "Sunlight Before Signing" promise.

"When there is a bill that ends up on my desk as the president, you the public will have five days to look online and find out what's in it before I sign it," he said.

He repeated that promise on his campaign website:

"Too often bills are rushed through Congress and to the president before the public has the opportunity to review them. As president, Obama will not sign any non-emergency bill without giving the American public an opportunity to review and comment on the White House website for five days."

However, Obama signed his first bill, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act, on Jan. 20 -- only two days after its passage.

He signed a second bill expanding the State Children's Health Insurance Program just three hours after Congress passed it.

Again, on Feb. 17, Obama signed his 1,000-page $787 billion stimulus aimed at jolting the declining U.S. economy. He did so only one business day after it passed through Congress -- without allowing for five days of public comment.

Broken promise No. 2: Capital gains tax elimination

According to his comprehensive tax plan released during his campaign, Obama promised to "eliminate capital gains taxes for small businesses."

Just weeks prior to the election, Obama advisers Austan Goolsbee and Jason Furman told the Wall Street Journal that Obama planned tax cuts that included "the elimination of capital gains taxes for small businesses and start-ups."

People who invest in small businesses have only been allowed to exclude 50 percent of that gain from capital gains taxes. While Obama's $787 billion economic-stimulus package reduces that tax liability -- raising the exclusion to 75 percent -- it does not eliminate it.

Broken promise No. 3: New American jobs tax credit

During his transition, Obama's promised to provide a $3,000 refundable tax credit to existing businesses for every additional full-time U.S. employee hired in 2009 and 2010.

"If a company that currently has 10 U.S. employees increases its domestic full time employment to 20 employees, this company would get a $30,000 tax credit -- enough to offset the entire added payroll tax costs to the company for the first $50,000 of income for the new employees," the transition website stated. "The tax credit will benefit all companies creating net new jobs, even those struggling to make a profit."

Obama's promise was never included in the stimulus package.

Broken promise No. 4: Hiatus on 401(k) penalties

Many unemployed and financially strapped Americans have considered early withdrawals on 401(k) and retirement accounts to survive the current recession. However, the IRS imposes strict penalties of up to 10 percent plus federal, state and local income taxes on such advances.

Workers who have taken $10,000 in early withdrawals from retirement plans have lost as much as 40 percent to taxes and penalties, depending upon tax brackets.

In October 2008, Obama released his "Rescue Plan for the Middle-Class" in which he promised to allow financially distressed Americans to withdraw up to $10,000 from their 401(k) accounts and retirement savings without having to pay penalties. They would only pay income taxes on the amount.

"Since so many Americans will be struggling to pay the bills over the next year, I propose that we allow every family to withdraw up to 15% from their IRA or 401(k) -- up to a maximum of $10,000 -- without any fine or penalty throughout 2009," Obama said. "This will help families get through this crisis without being forced to make painful choices like selling their homes or not sending their kids to college."

However, Obama's promise was never included in his recent stimulus package.

Broken promise No. 5: 'No jobs for lobbyists'

Obama promised America he would loosen the grip of lobbyists on Washington.

In his Nov. 10, 2007, speech in Des Moines, Iowa, Obama declared:

I am in this race to tell the corporate lobbyists that their days of setting the agenda in Washington are over. I have done more than any other candidate in this race to take on lobbyists -- and won. They have not funded my campaign, they will not run my White House, and they will not drown out the voices of the American people when I am president.

During his campaign, Obama also said, "I have done more to take on lobbyists than any other candidate in this race. I don't take a dime of their money, and when I am president, they won't find a job in my White House."

However, USA Today reported Obama's campaign fundraising team included 38 members of law firms that were paid $138 million in 2007 to lobby the federal government.

"Those lawyers, including 10 former federal lobbyists, have pledged to raise at least $3.5 million" for Obama's campaign, the report states. "Employees of their firms have given Obama's campaign $2.26 million."

It wasn't long before he allowed at least two dozen exceptions and broke his promise.

Obama's own ethic rules barred officials of his administration from lobbying their former colleagues "for as long as I am president." He also said former lobbyists would be prohibited from working for agencies they had lobbied within the past two years. President Obama later waived his rules for at least two of his nominees -- William J. Lynn III, undersecretary at the Department of Defense and recent lobbyist for Raytheon, and William Corr, deputy secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services and anti-tobacco lobbyist for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

Broken promise No. 6: Earmark reform

As WND reports, at the first presidential debate in Oxford, Miss., Obama declared, "[W]e need earmark reform. And when I'm president, I will go line by line to make sure that we are not spending money unwisely."

However, in February, Obama passed his $787 billion stimulus aimed at jolting the declining U.S. economy. Before a joint session of Congress, Obama declared: "Now, I'm proud that we passed a recovery plan free of earmarks."

Some chuckled in amusement when he claimed the bill contained no pork.

"There was just a roar of laughter -- because there were earmarks," Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., told CNN.

U.S. News & World Report found at least eight earmarks in his stimulus bill.

Obama also signed a $410 billion omnibus bill for 2009. More than 9,000 earmarks in the spending bill total an estimated $7.7 billion.

Even though the Democrat-controlled Congress crafted the bill after Obama's election, the administration claims the added pork is just "unfinished business" from last year.

The White House website states, "Obama and Biden will slash earmarks to no greater than 1994 levels and ensure all spending decisions are open to the public." However, watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense reports that the omnibus pork alone already totals $7.7 billion -- just less than the total of $7.8 billion in earmarks in 1994 -- and the figure does not include $6.6 billion in earmarks contained in three previous spending bills Congress passed amid the bailout crisis last year.

During his three years in the Senate, Obama requested more than $860 million in earmarks, according to the group. White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has 16 earmarks -- worth approximately $8.5 million -- in the bill.

Broken promise No. 7: Bring troops home in 16 months

On his campaign website, Obama promised he would "remove one to two combat brigades each month, and have all of our combat brigades out of Iraq within 16 months."

His commitment to bring combat troops home by May 20, 2010, and end the war gave him an edge among Democrats over candidate Hillary Clinton.

However, on Feb. 27, Obama declared, "Let me say this as plainly as I can: By Aug. 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end."

If Obama adheres to his plan, combat troops will return home months later than originally promised. The New York Times reports, Obama will withdraw only two of the 14 brigades before December.

As part of a "new era of American leadership," he also said he would leave behind a residual force of 35,000 to 50,000 troops and remove all U.S. soldiers from Iraq by Dec. 31, 2011 -- the same deadline the Bush administration negotiated with the Iraqi government last year in its Status of Forces Agreement.

Additionally, some combat units would remain in Iraq beyond Obama's declared August 2010 withdrawal. Rather than returning home, they would simply face reassignment as "advisory training brigades."

Even as combat troops are brought home, Pentagon officials have said fresh units will continue deploying to Iraq.

Broken promise No. 8: Sign 'Freedom of Choice Act'

On July 17, 2007, Obama told the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, "The first thing I'd do as president is, is sign the Freedom of Choice Act. That's the first thing that I'd do."

Obama expressed his support

for the sweeping plan that would repeal all national and state regulations of abortion passed over the last 35 years.

His agenda regarding "reproductive choice" is posted on the White House website. It states, Obama "has been a consistent champion of reproductive choice and will make preserving women's rights under Roe v. Wade a priority in his Administration."

Obama chose radical pro-abortion Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius to serve as the Health secretary, moved to void job protections for health workers who oppose abortion and repealed a ban on U.S. taxpayer funding of foreign abortions. While many pro-life advocates consider it a blessing that Obama has no fulfilled his promise to sign the Freedom of Choice Act, he has made no mention of the legislation since he took office.

Broken promise No. 9: $4,000 college credit

Obama pledged to make college "affordable for all Americans" when he announced his American Opportunity Tax Credit.

His campaign promise read: "This universal and fully refundable credit will ensure that the first $4,000 of a college education is completely free for most Americans, and will cover two-thirds the cost of tuition at the average public college or university and make community college tuition completely free for most students. Recipients of the credit will be required to conduct 100 hours of community service."

While the American Opportunity Tax Credit was included in the recent stimulus bill, it offers a credit of only $2,500 for up to two years and requires no commitment to community service.

Broken promise No. 10: Transparency

On the White House website, the Obama administration claims it will be "the most open and transparent in history. The administration released a memo on Jan. 21, stating:

My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.

Government should be transparent. Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their Government is doing. ...

However, Congress and the administration hurried the $787 billion, 1,027-page American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to a vote after allowing lawmakers just a few hours to read the bill. It was also available online in a form that could not be keyword searched.

While former administrations immediately posted transcripts of presidential speeches -- including some remarks before delivery -- the White House website often waits until days or even weeks after an event to release transcripts.

Also, some say recent reports of tax evasion by Obama nominees is evidence that the administration is not as transparent as promised.

Just before Obama named Timothy Geithner to be his treasury secretary, the president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank quietly paid $26,000 in back taxes and interest due since 2001 and 2002.

Obama characterized the eight-year tax evasion as "an innocent mistake."

But as many as five of his picks defaulted on taxes, including former nominee for health and human services secretary, Tom Daschle; former nominee for chief performance officer, Nancy Killefer; U.S. trade representative nominee Ron Kirk and Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis.

Furthermore, while the president posted his own weekly "fireside chats" on YouTube during the campaign, many journalists report that he has a history of being less than welcoming to the Fourth Estate.

Columbia Journalism Review noted Obama's treatment of the press: "During the campaign, reporters' access to Obama was severely limited. On-the-record conversations with the candidate were even more so. Indeed, Obama's overall treatment of the press -- not just in his general rejection of the day-to-day news cycle, but also in his tendency to shun his national traveling press corps ... created the impression that its members were, to him, a buzzing nuisance. Instead of the voice of the people."

WND's correspondent at the White House, Les Kinsolving, raised the issue in February that most of the reporters recognized for questions in the briefing room were among the same handful over and over again. Some of them had been given four or even five opportunities for questions while other reporters were not recognized at all.

Kinsolving, a senior journalist in the White House press corps, was not allowed to voice his questions on issues on which millions of WND readers have expressed an interest. There were also complaints about the time of the November election that not only did Obama rely on a few key reporters for questions, those reporters were chosen ahead of time.

And, finally, WND has reported on dozens of legal challenges to Obama's status as a "natural born citizen." The Constitution, Article 2, Section 1, states, "No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President."

However, Obama has refused repeated calls to publicly release his Hawaiian birth certificate, which would include the actual hospital that performed the delivery. His campaign posted an alleged "Certification of Live Birth" online, but it is not the same as a Hawaii birth certificate. COLBs have been issued by Hawaii to parents whose children are not born in the state.

Instead of providing the documentation to end the lawsuits, a series of law firms have been hired on Obama's behalf around the nation to prevent any public access to his birth certificate, passport records, college records and other documents. -- even after more than 320,000 people signed a petition demanding that he live up to his promise of transparency by releasing the certificate to the public.

Nonetheless, during his campaign and after he took office, Obama maintained that his administration would have an unyielding commitment to transparency.

"The American people want to trust in our government again -- we just need a government that will trust in us," he said in a campaign speech. "And making government accountable to the people isn't just a cause of this campaign -- it's been a cause of my life for two decades."

The White House declined to respond to WND's request for comment on Obama's promises.

-- Posted by Hem on Fri, Mar 13, 2009, at 3:40 AM

That being said ..Obama has done more public work and passed more laws in 2 days then Bush did in his ENTIRE presidency.

-- Posted by Spacetrinity on Fri, Apr 3, 2009, at 6:28 PM

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