Today, the State of Georgia welcomes Vice President Joe Biden for an update on the administration’s so-called stimulus bill. With national unemployment sitting today at 10%, and worse in Georgia, the White House’s credibility on stimulus success is dubious at best. Yet as proper manners would dictate, we owe the Vice President an opportunity to make his case.
President Obama tapped Mr. Biden to oversee the stimulus program because, as he put it, “nobody messes with Joe.” While that may be so, as the Vice President has been traveling around the nation touting the various spending priorities of the stimulus bill, their alleged benefits have yet to materialize into jobs. So if the Vice President is visiting to have us believe expanding broadband is how jobs are created or that we can “weatherize” our way back to prosperity, it may be Joe who is messing with Georgia.
It’s actually quite telling that the Vice President is visiting us to discuss the stimulus package on the same day that President Obama is setting off for Copenhagen to promote a job-killing National Energy Tax as a means to combat global warming. Because what was evident in the stimulus package, and has been reinforced through subsequent actions, is that this administration places a higher premium on its social goals than on putting people back to work.
To demonstrate this point, just take a look at the projects funded by the stimulus package. The hodgepodge of wasteful spending has included $3.8 million for an urban art trail in Rochester, N.Y., $1.5 million to streetscape a Detroit casino, and $578,000 to fight homelessness in Union, N.Y., a town with no reported homeless people. Rather than anything resembling a jobs bill, the package was awash with pet projects for Democrat members of Congress and their special interest allies.
Perhaps no agenda was more apparent in the bill than that of transforming our economy to the liking of Al Gore and his friends. The bill was loaded with billions of dollars to “green” America. The merit of each “green” initiative can be debated, but what is indisputable is they have nothing to do with sparking immediate economic growth. If taxpayer-funded rebates for the purchase of more energy efficient dishwashers were the key to putting folks back to work, I’d be all for it. But the “Cash-for-Clunkers: Home Appliance Edition” program included in the bill is not what will cure unemployment.
The unfortunate reality is that with its promises of an immediate impact and jumpstarted job growth, the stimulus has been a demonstrable failure.
We were told we’d see up to 4 million jobs “saved or created.” The Vice President’s own economist, in a now infamous report, told us if we passed this emergency package that unemployment would be contained to 8%. Instead, over 3 million Americans have lost work since its passage, and unemployment is expected to remain near 10%. In another promise, the President said 90% of the jobs “saved or created” would be in the private sector. The jobs the administration actually can pinpoint, however, have been overwhelmingly in government.
One thing that the stimulus has created without any dispute, though, is an unprecedented budget deficit. This past year, the budget shortfall was $1.4 trillion, nearly four times the deficit of the previous year. And Congress will soon be forced to increase the federal debt limit that already sits at $12.1 trillion. This will be the fifth increase in the debt limit since Democrats took control of Congress just three years ago.
The deficits created by the stimulus are not only unsustainable in the long-term, but have grown so large they threaten economic stability today. As the big-government approach has predictably let Americans down, it’s time for a new approach. That’s why, working with my Republican colleagues, I have introduced a pair of measures that would pull the plug on the ill-fated stimulus and put into action real incentives for economic growth.
For starters, our REBOUND Act, H.R. 3140, would rescind the large unspent portions of the stimulus bill, as well as the TARP bailout funds, to pay down the deficits. And our Economic Recovery Act, H.R. 470, would offer across-the-board tax relief to American families. The legislation reduces economic burdens on businesses, small and large, so they may expand and hire workers once more. And finally, the legislation includes spending reductions, because downsizing an overgrown Washington can no longer wait.
Our solutions revolve around a basic principle that it is people, businesses, and markets that create jobs, not government borrowing and spending. We can talk all day long about double sealing our windows for the winter, but we won’t see real recovery until the Vice President and this administration recognize that government can only do so much, while the economic potential for unburdened and economically empowered Americans is unlimited.