The Politico reports that the Senate’s so-called "moderate" block thinks the best way to stimulute the economy is to cut about $90 billion from the spending side, and perhaps take it out of state spending for education. Are they nuts?

Nonetheless, the appropriations portion remains the most vulnerable part politically, and the moderates would like to bring the total cost back toward the $800 billion level discussed earlier by the White House.

State fiscal aid and education funding will be among the most sensitive proposed cuts, and if $90 billion is the goal, it would represent an estimated 25% cut. “We are still negotiating,” Collins said, but agreement would yield a political victory for the president, she suggested, and assure him of much wider support in the Senate.

So, even though every sensible economist keeps explaining that spending => jobs = stimulus, and states are laying off teachers and postponing school construction and maintenance, these "moderates" think it makes sense to reduce education spending and state funding generally?

If true, this would be stunningly stupid. Perhaps the Senators should be reminded about what their Governors and mayors (cheers for Mayor Fetterrman!) are facing. In Susan Collin’s Maine, for example, the Boston Globe noted this:

Maine has an unemployment rate of 7 percent, its highest level in 17 years. It is facing a current state budget deficit of $140 million, and another $177 million gap is projected for the fiscal year beginning in July. Like many states facing budget shortfalls, Maine has been forced to cut services or raise fees. It has cut per-pupil spending for public education, increased tuitions for state colleges, cut money for homeless shelters, and imposed a $25 enrollment fee for poor patients using Medicaid, according to an analysis by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington, D.C.

The federal stimulus bill passed by the House would allocate $2.38 billion to Maine. About 10 percent of that would go to balance the state budget, with the rest going to infrastructure spending, safety-net programs, and tax cuts. Although the numbers in the Senate version of the bill are still in flux, the House plan included $190 million in school aid, including money to renovate or repair public school buildings; $434 million for Medicaid; and $9.2 million in worker retraining funds for the unemployed.

Which of these lifelines would senators Collins or Snowe decline in the names of their constituents?

Almost every state in the country faces the same dire choices. But we seem to have a group of Senators who think ignoring these problems is the "moderate" thing to do. Incredible.



John has been writing for Firedoglake since 2006 or so, on whatever interests him. He has a law degree, worked as legal counsel and energy policy adviser for a state energy agency for 20 years and then as a consultant on electricity systems and markets. He's now retired, living in Massachusetts.

You can follow John on twitter: @JohnChandley