Americans are hurting, our economy is in crisis, and we need to do better than pass a spending bill that is unfocused, spends heavily on social programs and is light on economic stimulus," Congressman Elton Gallegly said today after voting against the misnamed American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
"What our economy needs is a rifle shot of proven measures to boost the economy, not a shotgun that scatters pellets indiscriminately and is likely to miss the target. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office even predicts this bill will lower workers' wages and the country's gross domestic product over the next 10 years. That is not stimulation.
"The tax cuts and small business incentives Congress passed in the wake of 9/11 are credited with the quick recovery after terrorists hit the center of our financial markets. The current crisis is not the result of tax incentives.
"The underlying reason for our economic crisis is that people are in homes they can't afford and for which they never should have qualified. The roots of this go back to the 1990s, when lenders were told they had to make loans to individuals who could not afford them. This was only compounded by tens of thousands of people, including illegal immigrants, who were given loans without proper scrutiny and often put no money down and made few payments, if any at all.
"Add to that greedy Wall Street, unscrupulous mortgage brokers, and an ocean of consumer debt and it is easy to understand how we got into this mess.
"But instead of increasing economic incentives, the compromise' bill sharply pares back tax relief to help middle class families and small businesses in order to increase government spending.
"The noneconomic programs may have merit and are worthy of debate. But an economic stimulus bill should not be an opportunity to push through pet projects that should be debated on their own merits and could, in fact, harm our economic recovery.
"Little in this bill addresses the economy's core problems. Instead we get such items as:
"$2 billion for the Neighborhood Stabilization Fund, providing funds to organizations such as ACORN, which has been accused of practicing unlawful voter registration in recent elections;
"$1 billion for a new Prevention and Wellness Fund,' which would be available for education programs on sexually-transmitted diseases; and,
"$5.5 billion for federal buildings, including $4.5 billion to convert federal buildings into high-performance green buildings' and $450 million for a new headquarters for the Department of Homeland Security.
"This is not stimulus. This bill will burden families with more debt at a time when they are worrying about keeping or finding a job, keeping a roof over their head, and putting food on the family table.
"Instead, I favor a focused program of infrastructure spending and tax relief that will immediately create jobs and boost economic activity.
"Both parties agree the issue must be addressed. We may not agree on a perfect resolution, but the resolution must address the core problems. I cannot and will not support and will actively fight any bill that purports to stimulate but which actually worsens the plight of American workers. I will support and will actively fight for a stimulus plan that creates jobs, stimulates business growth and restores confidence in the American economy."