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Senate sweetens the rescue bill

Members of Congress gather in the Senate chamber

TEXT OF STORY

Kai Ryssdal: Maybe you picked up on Representative (Peter) DeFazio's displeasure with the Senate bill. (Kai talked with DeFazio in another story). He's got plenty of company on both sides of the aisle. So, as he mentioned, to attract more votes Senate leaders have added a number of sweeteners. But they ain't gonna come cheap. Our Washington bureau chief John Dimsdale has that part of the story.


John Dimsdale: The Senate version temporarily insures bank accounts up to $250,000. It also adds expiring tax benefits for small businesses and renewable-energy projects. And it shields middle class taxpayers from the onerous Alternative Minimum Tax.

The price tag for these extras is another $130 billion. But Senator Judd Gregg, the lead Republican on the Budget Committee, says the tax breaks should not be viewed as extra costs.

Judd Gregg: It is not an issue of adding $100 billion to this bill. Everybody knew these tax extenders were going to occur. There's no way we're going to let the solar or wind credit lapse. There's no way we're going to hit 20 million people with AMT.

But Vermont's independent Senator, Bernie Sanders, thinks Americans earning more than $500,000 a year should pay for some of the bailout.

Bernie Sanders: Given the fact that the top 1 percent of our population have made out like bandits economically, since Bush has been President, it seems to me very wrong that the middle class has got to pick up the tab.

Business groups are lobbying hard for the rescue package. The Chamber of Commerce's Bruce Josten thinks the Senate proposal has a better chance now that there's a little something for everybody.

Bruce Josten: The disaster-relief package for the California wildfire areas, the Midwest floods and Hurricane Gustav -- another opportunity for members to step up to the plate.

House and Senate members report public sentiment toward a government rescue has become more favorable since the stock market dropped after the House defeat on Monday.

In Washington, I'm John Dimsdale for Marketplace.

About the author

As head of Marketplace’s Washington, D.C. bureau, John Dimsdale provides insightful commentary on the intersection of government and money for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

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