LoBiondo Votes Against So-Called "Stimulus" Bill
U.S. Congressman Frank A. LoBiondo (NJ-02) today voted against the final House-Senate compromise package, totaling $787 billion, which is intended to be an economic stimulus for the national economy.
"Everyone acknowledges that our national economy is in need of direct, targeted action that will put American workers back to work, retain existing jobs, restore confidence in our markets and give individuals and families more money in their pockets. This bill was intended to be a job-creation bill; it does not succeed in that goal. Furthermore, when the Congressional Budget Office estimates that only 11 percent of the legislation's $311 billion in discretionary spending will be spent by the end of 2009 - and that 53 percent will be spent between 2011 and 2018 - then the bill is neither direct nor targeted. Congress is playing fast and loose with the taxpayers' money rather than taking deliberate and decisive action. For these reasons, I voted against this bill."
In his opposition to the original House-passed bill, LoBiondo highlighted the short-changing of transportation infrastructure spending, which is proven to create hundreds of thousands of jobs. In the House-Senate compromise presented to Congress today, only 5.9 percent of the bill's total cost - $47 billion of the $787 billion price-tag - will go to transportation infrastructure projects.
"Make no mistake, this legislation is considerably weaker in its support to New Jersey's transportation needs than the original House-passed bill. Funding levels have been reduced by billions of dollars, meaning less of our highway, mass transit, airport and rail infrastructure projects will receive attention," said LoBiondo, the only South Jersey representative on the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee.
The House-Senate compromise also included several provisions that LoBiondo expressed concern about or strictly opposed. Included in the compromise:
· Reduction in Medicaid Funding - While providing a boost to Medicaid funding to the states, which LoBiondo supports, the House-Senate compromise reduced the overall funding levels from the original House-passed bill and changed the disbursement formula to the states which translates into a significant reduction in federal dollars to New Jersey despite the fact that it has high unemployment;
· Limited "Buy American" Provisions - The intention of the economic stimulus package is to create jobs in America, however, the weakened "Buy American" provisions now allow federal funding recipients to purchase over $300 billion worth of products not made in America. Only U.S. steel and federal/military uniforms are covered under the "Buy American" provisions in the House-Senate compromise.
· Prohibition on Gaming Industries - Explicitly written in the House-Senate compromise is a prohibition of using federal grant funds for any casino-related projects, including employment hiring and retention programs or infrastructure projects that would improve access to the Atlantic City properties.
"Casino workers and their families should not be treated any differently than any other household affected by the economic downturn. I was opposed to this provision in the House-passed bill and I remain strongly opposed to its inclusion in this final package," said LoBiondo, co-chair of the Congressional Gaming Caucus.
By no means an exhaustive list, the following programs are examples of non-job creating provisions included in the so-called "economic stimulus" conference report negotiated by the House and Senate that would be funded by the taxpayers:
· $2 billion for the Neighborhood Stabilization Fund which allows the Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) to buy foreclosed homes from lenders at taxpayers' expense and then allow local communities to revitalize and resell them for $1. Organizations such as the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) could receive taxpayer dollars despite being under federal investigation in 14 states for illegal voter registration activities;
· $1.1 billion to establish the "Comparative Effectiveness Research Program" under which the federal government will review the cost effectiveness of certain treatments and prescriptions and make recommendation to doctors. This would erode the doctor-patient relationship as it would result in the federal government deciding the best course of treatments for patients;
· $1 billion for a Prevention & Wellness Fund including funding for sexually transmitted diseases education and prevention programs;
· $800 million for NASA & the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration to improve weather forecasts;
· $600 million on science research, including new types of measurement devices, and fellowship grants;
· $400 million for NASA to conduct research on space exploration and landing a man on Mars;
· $300 million in tax credits for golf cart-sized electric vehicles;
· $300 million to buy new cars for federal government workers, adding to the existing inventory of 640,000 vehicles; and,
· $25 million for improvements at the Smithsonian.
"The President is right to call for an economic stimulus package that will immediately and positively benefit struggling families and our nation's economy," concluded LoBiondo. "Congress should have and could have created a true economic stimulus that would create millions of new jobs without saddling the taxpayers with excessive, wasteful federal spending. Today, Congress failed the American people."