McKeon: Stimulus? Or Just More Spending
Congressman laments vote, expresses why he thinks it's bad for America.
By Congressman Buck McKeon
I don’t want to sound like an alarmist, but it’s important that I am precise and clear about my view of the Democrat’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Democrats have been in a huge hurry to push this enormous spending bill through Congress to meet an arbitrary date they set for themselves, while holding Democrat-only closed-door meetings and without an open process for the American public. In fact, Republicans were forced to decipher the bill through press accounts and rumors.
That’s no way to address a major national issue, by shutting out bipartisan action, to represent the country’s interests. Democrats may have won the majority of votes in the last election cycle, but let’s take a look around because the majority of Americans still hold the same conservative values I do and those views should be represented.
As a friendly reminder, the Democrat’s bill is tax-payer funded. This means the spending in the bill is your money. Correction, since Democrats are “borrowing and spending” the money to fund their bill, it is your children’s and grandchildren’s money.
What’s at risk here? The risks are innumerable, but let me highlight some issues.
The bill won’t actually stimulate the economy. In a recent report by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) expert economists confirmed what Republicans already knew: Democratic stimulus proposals will not provide the needed stimulus to our economy.
The centerpiece of the “stimulus” portion of the Democrats’ original proposal is the $355 billion in new discretionary spending. But according to CBO, only $136 billion would be spent over the next two years. So what happens to the other $219 billion in discretionary spending? The CBO predicts that this spending will not be seen until after our current economic recession has ended. This is not how to stimulate the economy.
After the House and Senate conference, the total cost of the Democrats’ economic stimulus package is $789.5 billion. This is almost as much as the annual discretionary budget for the entire federal government. Based on President Obama’s estimates that the stimulus will create or save 3 million jobs, each job will cost approximately $267,000. Considering that our projected debt for Fiscal Year 2009 is $1.2 trillion, adding another $1.1 trillion (after interest is calculated) to that debt with little prospect for the intended “stimulus” effect, is completely irresponsible.
The bill wastes money on unnecessary items. While every health organization, school, and town would probably welcome an influx in unanticipated money with open arms, this isn’t free money. I don’t know how Democrats can possibly justify some of the spending items:
- $650 million for Digital-to-Analog Converter Box Coupons
- $1 billion for a Prevention and Wellness Fund, which can be used for sexually transmitted disease (STD) education and prevention programs at the CDC
- $500 million to replace a 30-year old computer system at the Social Security Administration
- $300 million for federal procurement of plug-in and fuel efficient vehicles
According to a Washington Post article earlier this week, Democrat leaders were demanding even more spending:
“After a tentative agreement was struck between Democratic leaders of two chambers yesterday afternoon, some Democrats appeared eager to scuttle the deal, as lawmakers vented about deep reductions in education and other social programs. At one point, Democrats in a hastily called meeting jokingly chanted ‘We want more’ before relenting.”
Contrary to Democrat chants, more spending is not what
Republicans know something must be done to aid our ailing economy, but our goals center around tax cuts and job creation, not a bloated
The House Republican Economic Recovery Plan focused on timely solutions by providing immediate tax relief for working families, help for
The Republican plan would have reduced the 15% tax bracket to 10% and the 10% tax bracket to 5%. This would have resulted in an average benefit of $500 in tax relief for individuals in the 10% bracket, and $1,200 for individuals in the 15% bracket. A married couple filing jointly could have saved up to $3,200 a year in taxes.
Republicans also focused on small businesses. Small businesses that employ fewer than 500 individuals would have been eligible to take a tax deduction equal to 20% of their income. Our plan would also have assisted the unemployed by making unemployment benefits tax free. The federal government should not be taking money from individuals who are struggling to make it by on unemployment. We also aimed to stabilize home values by proposing a home-buyers tax credit of $7,500 for those buyers who pay a 5% minimum down-payment. Again, these proven initiatives were pushed to the side to make way for future tax increases and a greater expansion of government and government programs. As President Reagan once said, “No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size.” It’s true.
Reagan also said, “It’s clear that the massive deficits our government runs is one of the root causes of our profound economic problems, and for too many years this process has come too easily for us. We’ve lived beyond our means and then financed our extravagance on the backs of the American people.”
Make no mistake; this Democrat-crafted $789.5 billion spending bill is extravagance of the worst kind.
Congressman Howard P. "Buck" McKeon, a Republican, represents the 25th District of California in the U.S. Congress. He is the leading Republican on the House Education and Labor Committee and a member of the House Armed Services Committee.