Omnibus Spending Bill Passes Senate, Obama Will Sign

In a voice vote following cloture, the Senate this afternoon passed the $410 billion Omnibus Appropriations Bill. President Obama says he will sign the bill. Via Senator Chris Dodd on Twitter:

The voice vote followed the roll call cloture vote, passing 62-35. Since final passage would be identical, voice vote is sufficient

The legislation keeps the Government running until September 30, 2009. Then what?

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    Fine with me (4.33 / 6) (#4)
    by andgarden on Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 08:36:48 PM EST
    Unlike others, I do not hyperventilate over earmarks. Probably this bill has some military construction and agriculture support programs that I do not support. But I think it's likely to do a lot of good for a lot of people.

    1.9% of this bill is earmarks (4.42 / 7) (#10)
    by ruffian on Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 10:28:20 PM EST
    I'm not going to lose any sleep over them either. Neither is John McCain, because he is a big fat phony.  I can promise you that far more than 1.9% of that bill is wasteful defense spending. When he wants to make an issue of that, I will listen to him.

    When earmarks are genuinely (none / 0) (#12)
    by Inspector Gadget on Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 11:47:55 PM EST
    beneficial to jobs and communities, I'd think most people are just fine with them. Pick a different Republican than John McCain, though. His history shows that he walks his talk and does not generate earmarks. Personally, I would think Arizona would be furious that he neglects to send money for projects back to them every chance he gets, but that's not my concern.

    Earmarks (3.00 / 1) (#15)
    by MrConservative on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 12:27:55 AM EST
    Are something that isn't well described by the "liberal" media.  It's just a direct legislative direction that money be spent on a specific item, rather than allowing the executive to spend it in general terms.  Of course, almost all pork would need to take this form, but it's absurd to say that earmarks should be abolished.  Reforming pork could be done through much less blunt methods.

    The 2010 Budget (3.00 / 2) (#1)
    by WS on Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 07:07:13 PM EST
    will only need 50 votes to pass.  Thank God.  

    I want those tax cuts for the wealthy reversed right away and recoup about 250 billion dollars in revenue in the two years that we will wait for these tax cuts to expire.

    In addition (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by cpa1 on Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 08:05:52 PM EST
    the Federal Estate Tax expires right after 12/31/09.  That means, anyone who dies in 2010 will not subject his or her Estate to the top 46% tax,  So, it's gone for all of 2010.  Then at 12:00 AM it returns in its original pre Bush form with a top bracket of 55%.

    I'd like to add something else.  One of the jerks on CNBC this morning said that if we raise taxes too much, the corps like GE will move to Switzerland, like Halliburton did when it moved to Dubai.  When one of your Republican friends (which is an oxymoron) talks to you about that, I have an answer for you.

    It's called a Flip Tax.  It's seen in real estate where a member of a co-op sells his apartment (or really his shares) and the co-op board can pass a rule saying that a certain percentage of the selling price comes back to the co-op.

    It's even more appropriate for income taxes.  If a person or corporation decides to move out and take all their money with them, they should not be allowed to turn their back, without a cost, on the country that made their wealth possible.  We should say to these potential deserters, by all means leave but 55% of the value of your accumulated assets stay in the US.  What if a sick billionaire left the US to die in Switzerland where there is no estate tax.  No way should we ever allow that.  If they want to not be subject to this flip tax, they can live their most of their life in Switzerland where they would never have a chance to build up so much money.


    Actually (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by Steve M on Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 09:33:22 PM EST
    I have no idea of the legalities that occur if someone leaves the country to die elsewhere, do you?  What if they renounce their citizenship, there's not much we can do then, right?  It's an interesting question and I seriously have no idea.

    As you surely know, the US is alone or virtually alone among sovereign nations in that we assess income tax upon all US citizens, even if they live permanently outside the country and earn all their income elsewhere.  We can get away with this, because basically, American citizenship is a uniquely valuable asset that people are reluctant to surrender.  Djibouti could never do the same thing because the expats would just renounce their Djiboutian citizenship.

    So anyway, I'd love to find a way to extend this analogy to apply to corporations that move overseas, although obviously it's a little trickier.  One thing we can do is make sure those companies don't continue to rake in federal subsidies and/or contracts after they move away to avoid taxes.


    People working outside the US are tax exempt (none / 0) (#14)
    by Inspector Gadget on Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 11:54:07 PM EST
    for a very large chunk of their income. The exemption was the first $80,000 earned overseas back in the 80s, so it's probably much higher now. The rules that accompany that exemption are that the earner is not allowed to be inside the US borders more than 10 days a year, but their family can live here.

    Nope (none / 0) (#16)
    by dissenter on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 01:34:10 AM EST
    The law hasn't changed much. Plus, to get that exemption you must stay out of the US for 330 days per year. Most people (say contractors) still get hit with the self employment tax, plus medicare taxes even on the exempt part. Once you hit like $120K you are taxed at full levels whether you are here using the streets, schools, etc. If you lose your job, there is no unemployment and of course you are paying your own health insurance. Compared to Europe is really a bad deal.

    Europeans that earn their money overseas and stay out of their home countries for six months a year pay zero taxes so contrary to popular opinion the foreign tax exemption isn't as great as it seems.

    Especially for those of us that get to spend the rest of the year in Kabul and Baghdad:)

    The corporations taking US tax dollars and putting their headquarters overseas should lose their contracts. It is tax evasion not only on  corporate taxes but they are also not paying what they should be on their contractors (like half their medicare taxes, unemployment insurance, etc.) Contractors risk their lives every day and they are getting screwed too. Honestly, the press reports about what the average contractor makes in say Iraq or Afghanistan are not accurate. Most people are not getting rich but they are taking incredible risks, only to be called mercenaries.

    Most of us don't have anything to do with security companies and those that do, don't make that much on average. Not for the risk anyway.


    The looming issues with the (none / 0) (#5)
    by Anne on Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 08:44:37 PM EST
    estate tax are making estate-planning kind of interesting; the black humor that permeates estates and trust departments of banks and law firms has us all grimly joking that anyone with significant wealth who starts circling the drain in 2009 ought to have an advance directive that ensures no one will pull the plug on him or her until 2010...

    And since my state did not phase out its estate tax when the state death tax credit disappeared from the calculation, it's not been a lot of fun explaining to clients that even though their dearly departed did not have an estate large enough to require the filing of the FET, the estate did meet the requirement for a state filing, and the state requires a pro-forma federal return - prepared as if it was required, with all appraisals and supporting documentation - accompany it - which means that even though a federal return is not required, we're preparing it anyway.


    And, just to counter the GOP argument that estate tax is evil because it forces families to sell the farm and the business, in the 30 years I have been doing this work, I have never had an estate where the estate tax forced the liquidation of a business or a farm.  I've had more than a couple 6166 elections that kept estates open for 15 years, but that's what 6166 was designed for - not to prolong the administration, but to preserve an asset that isn't easily liquidated, or which the family wants to hang onto.


    odd that you should mention this: (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by cpinva on Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 11:50:43 PM EST
    in the 30 years I have been doing this work, I have never had an estate where the estate tax forced the liquidation of a business or a farm.

    odd, because there doesn't seem to be any evidence of this ever having happened, in spite of the republican noise machine to the contrary.

    when you consider the fact that only about 1.5% of all estates actually meet the minimum qualifying limits, to be eligible for the estate tax, that's not all that surprising.

    to their credit, the republicans have managed to convince most people not in the tax, legal/accounting business otherwise.

    folks i know, who will never, in this or any other lifetime, leave a qualifying estate, are convinced that half of all they own will be snatched by the government, when they die. because rush tells them so.

    when i tell them they've a better shot at being struck by lightening and a semi, at the same time, then their estate being subject to the tax, they seem almost disappointed, as though that makes them less of a person. go figure.


    Source or calculation for the $250B figure? (none / 0) (#7)
    by coast on Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 09:21:46 PM EST
    Don't see how that is correct based on 2006 figures provided by IRS or the current economic climate.

    It was in one (none / 0) (#9)
    by WS on Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 09:54:43 PM EST
    of the liberal blogs either dkos, mydd, or open left.  It's still a lot of money the US can recoup if the tax cuts for the wealthy were reversed.  

    Just as the right (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by coast on Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 11:13:23 PM EST
    is incorrect that a reversal of the cuts will have a huge impact on people's desires to generate and accumulate wealth, the left is incorrect in its notion that simply increasing taxes on those who make over $250K will somehow fill the deficit gap.  Obama, and anyone who buys into his "95% of you won't see a tax increase", is living in a fantasy world.  There is no way you can pass the stimulas, spending, and other rescue bills that have either been passed or are on the table and not increase taxes on a majority of taxpayers.

    So much for change (none / 0) (#3)
    by Saul on Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 08:07:22 PM EST

    410 billion... (none / 0) (#6)
    by kdog on Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 09:13:26 PM EST
    for seven months, plus the spending that ain't even in that number...where does it all go?  The feds don't even pick up our garbage, the other families do that.  

    I guess its gotta do some good, but far too many bad scenes on that dime for me to see it as anything but a disgrace.

    There's a little thing called a filibuster... (none / 0) (#17)
    by veedub on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 09:45:39 AM EST
    I don't know how many of you are at all familiar with the rules of the Senate, but basically when the minority does not want a bill to be passed into law, and they do not have enough votes to overturn the bill, there are a few things they can do.
    One is the traditional filibuster.  Discussion in the Senate is not limited to the topic in the bill, and there is no time limit.  So, someone could get up there and start reading the complete works of Shakespeare just to piss everyone off and hopefully everyone will get sick of it and end up throwing out the bill.  However, this has a counter to it.  If 60 votes can be obtained, cloture can be invoked and force an end to the filibuster and bring it to a vote.
    Another exploited rule is that Senators can put earmarks on bills that are completely unrelated to the subject to the bill.  This is used for another kind of filibuster - putting so many pointless earmarks on the bill that the majority would be incredibly reluctant to vote for it.
    The republicans who put earmarks on and then complain about earmarks are most likely doing this sort of filibuster.

    Budget Resolution (none / 0) (#18)
    by WS on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 08:24:03 PM EST
    bills only need a majority to pass. The Omnibus spending bill that just passed needed 60 because it was not a budget resolution bill and was something else.  The FY 2010 budget is a budget resolution bill.