TEXT OF INTERVIEW
Bill Radke: The Senate has passed a spending bill that’s like one of those goody bags you get at a party —
call it the let’s-end-this-recession-already party. The bill extends a tax credit for home buyers; it extends emergency unemployment benefits, it has a nice hefty tax break for companies hit by the downturn. Marketplace’s Mitchell Hartman has been following this legislation. He joins us live. Hi, Mitchell.
Mitchell Hartman: Good morning, Bill.
Radke: This Senate bill pulls a lot of levers.
Hartman There is a theme here. It’s hit a lot of big constituencies with financial relief, and then maybe everyone will start to act and feel like the recession’s over, the way that economists tell us it already is. So here’s what’s in the bill: There’s up to 20 extra weeks of unemployment checks. That’s for more than a million workers who are running out of benefits. That $8,000 tax credit for home buyers that has been responsible for resurrecting the housing market. It now goes through April. And home owners who are trading up can access that as well. Finally, Congress extends a very nice tax break that they’ve already given small businesses. Big businesses will be able to use it as well. They can recover corporate taxes that they paid in the boom times, by writing them off against losses that they’ve now suffered in the recession.
Radke: Well let’s talk costs, Mitchell. This all must come with a lot of zeroes.
Hartman: It’s $20 billion, is the price tag. And that’s nine zeros, if my math is right. But keep in mind, Congress doesn’t want to be caught adding to the deficit, so it’s trying to do this “pay as you go.” The unemployment extension is actually fully paid for by extending an existing payroll tax on employers. The rest is covered by delaying a tax break that big multinational corporations were expecting to get on international interest payments. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce doesn’t like that part of it, and says it’ll fight any more corporate tax increases. This Senate bill now goes on to the House, and the president’s expected to sign it.
Radke: Mitchell Hartman, thank you.
Hartman: You’re welcome.
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