Wisconsin’s two U-S senators helped strike down a $140-billion stimulus package aimed at preventing another recession. Democrats immediately offered a scaled-down version, but Republicans said it would still add $50-billion to the national debt over the next 10 years.
The vote was 52-to-45 against the larger package, with Democrats Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold joining Republicans and eight other Democrats in striking it down. It was another sign that lawmakers in both parties were growing more concerned about deficits, in the wake of a voter backlash. The package rejected yesterday called for more unemployment benefits, Medicare payments to avoid a scheduled cut in doctor reimbursements, the continuation of numerous tax breaks, and aid to states.
Democrats said it was vital to pass $24-billion in Medicaid funds which 30 states had already put in their budgets. Wisconsin was not among those. But Governor Jim Doyle recently said nursing homes were dire need of the funding, and they might have to cut jobs without it.