By Congressman Patrick McHenry
February 2, 2009
No one doubts the severity of our country’s economic challenges, from my colleagues in Congress to my neighbors in Western North Carolina. Families are having trouble making ends meet and workers are losing their jobs. Action is needed. Unfortunately, the Democrat majority in Congress held a vote last week on a so-called ‘stimulus’ bill that has little to do with stimulating our economy.
When the process of crafting this legislation began, I genuinely believed that Democrats and Republicans would put partisanship aside and work together to the benefit of all Americans. President Obama and House Republicans signaled a willingness to work together on a proposal that would include tax policies that encourage job creation as well as targeted investments in infrastructure projects that would help stimulate the economy.
The President and House Republicans agreed that in order for the bill to have credibility with the American people, it absolutely must not include pork barrel spending. The only way to achieve this was for the legislation to be crafted and debated in an open, thoughtful and bipartisan way.
What followed was a secretive, hasty and partisan process that clearly demonstrates the Democrat majority’s disregard for America’s desire for bipartisan cooperation in this time of crisis. The resulting legislation is a massive spending bill that devotes “tens of billions of dollars to causes that have little to do with jolting the country out of recession,” as described by the Associated Press. The bill allocates billions for the National Endowment for the Arts, new cars and computers for government workers, and ACORN, the liberal political group under federal investigation.
Only 3% of the funds are dedicated to road and highway infrastructure projects. In fact, the only sector of the economy that may see modest job creation is the government. The legislation creates 32 new government programs and spends $646,214 for every government job created. To make matters worse, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reports that over half of the money will be spent between 2011 and 2019, after the economy is expected to recover.
All of this wasteful spending is regrettable because it detracts from truly worthy projects which provide both short-term stimulus and lasting economic impact. For example, investments in building broadband infrastructure will create manufacturing and technology jobs in Western North Carolina.
For all the billions in pork barrel spending, the legislation offers next to nothing in the way of tax relief for working families and small businesses, the backbone of our economy. Just 2.7% of the bill is dedicated to small business tax relief, despite the fact that 90% of the new jobs in this country are created by small businesses.
With so many of my constituents struggling to keep their heads above water financially, I could not in good conscience vote for a bill that forces them to bankroll $819 billion worth of deficit spending. I am in agreement with so many economists who predict that this legislation will have disastrous effects on America’s long-term economic security and lead to massive tax increases on working families.
I remain committed to working toward policies that will rebuild our economy and create good jobs without burying generations of Western North Carolina taxpayers in debt.