Wolf Statement on Stimulus Package
Rep. Frank Wolf (R-10th) released the following statement today concerning H.R. 1, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act:
"I understand that Americans are hurting. Many have lost their jobs, are unable to pay their mortgage, don't have health insurance and are struggling to make ends meet. Small businesses have especially felt the brunt of the recession.
"Congress needs to come together with the president to restore confidence in the economy and create a climate conducive to job growth. But instead of a narrowly focused effort to stimulate the economy through targeted programs to put more money in the hands of taxpayers and create jobs, this massive spending bill - the largest in our nation's history - creates new programs and bolsters others, many of which have nothing to do with economic recovery. I don't question the urgency of congressional action to stimulate the economy, but I do question the priorities in this package and its $787 billion price tag. I did not support this measure because I was not convinced that this legislative package would allow for the kind of immediate growth and job creation for which these desperate times call.
"I have never been more concerned about the future of our country. The unprecedented amount of borrowing and spending in this package will place a tremendous burden of debt on present and future generations. This economic stimulus package was not only an opportunity to look at short-term solutions to help jump-start the economy and assist struggling taxpayers and homeowners, but also an historic opportunity for Congress to address the long-term financial plan for our country.
"I have been speaking out for several years about getting mandatory spending under control. Congressman Jim Cooper and I have authored bipartisan legislation, which I first introduced in 2006, to set up a national commission to review our nation's long-term economy, including entitlement spending, discretionary spending and tax policy, and recommend a plan to Congress to get America on a sustainable financial path. The Securing America's Future Economy (SAFE) Act would address this financial crisis and solve it with bipartisanship. The SAFE effort differs from others because it requires an up or down vote in Congress on the commission's proposal, similar to the process for closing military bases enacted in 1988.
"As the piece of the budget pie continues to grow to pay for entitlements, spending for discretionary programs shrinks. That means fewer dollars for education, for medical research, for investment in technology, for national security, for transportation, and a myriad of other programs on which Americans rely. Not only is it unacceptable to shoulder our children and grandchildren with a crushing debt burden, I believe it raises serious moral questions. Is it right for one generation to live very well knowing that its debts will be left to be paid for by others?
"The SAFE idea has garnered growing support. I reached out to both Democrats and Republicans to push for a bipartisan entitlement reform commission to be considered as part of the stimulus package. I offered the SAFE Commission as an amendment when the stimulus legislation was marked up in the House Appropriations Committee, and again when the Rules Committee decided which amendments would be made in order for consideration on the House floor as a part of House legislative package. I was disappointed that my amendment was not even allowed to be debated by the House. The enclosed op-ed from The Washington Times the day before the House considered the conference report on the stimulus legislation notes that SAFE is a bipartisan effort to rein in budget shortfalls and would give Congress the ability to tackle tough spending issues.
"I am deeply concerned about the divisiveness in Congress and believe that a bipartisan commission may well be the only way to mandate action on long-term budget controls. President Obama has indicated his willingness to reach across the aisle to find bipartisan solutions. I have always believed that working together in a bipartisan manner is what the American people expect of their leaders.
"The Congress had the chance in the stimulus measure to take a bold step for America's future financial security, yet instead, I fear we are going down the same road of adding to the deficit and national debt with spending on many programs of questionable value in creating jobs and getting our economy back on track. We can do better and we must do better - for our children and our grandchildren's future."