Congressman Brian Bilbray made the following statement on the recent congressional stimulus plan
"Today, our nation is sinking deeper into a recession that is affecting the entire globe. In January, our economy lost nearly 600,000 jobs and unemployment jumped to 7.6 percent, its highest level in a generation. Millions of Americans have seen their lives take backward steps over the last year with job losses, disappearing retirement funds that have delayed or destroyed retirement plans and plummeting housing prices forcing Americans to focus solely on meeting their most basic needs. In this atmosphere it is essential that government step in to jumpstart our economy and promote job creation.
"Recently, President Obama called on Congress to put forth an economic stimulus bill that was 'timely, targeted and temporary.' I wholeheartedly agree with the President on this sentiment and have been hoping to work with my colleagues to develop a bipartisan solution that fulfills these goals.
"In the proposal that came before the House on January 28, 2009, there were several provisions I supported. For example, I strongly supported the $47 billion for 'shovel ready' infrastructure projects that could be paid for by future gas tax revenue, $13.7 billion to extend the renewable energy production tax credit and $13.2 billion for research and development funding, which included $3.9 billion in funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). All of these provisions have the proven ability to create jobs and to put our economy on a more competitive footing by improving efficiency and developing the cutting edge technology and medicines that are vital to maintaining our economic position in the world. In fact, every $1 of NIH investment in California generates $2.21 in new business for the state's economy, a tremendous return on investment.
"However, despite these productive provisions the balance of the stimulus package failed to meet the 'timely, targeted and temporary' standard set forth by the President. As one digs deeper into the text of the proposal, it is littered with wasteful and questionable spending that has no place in a stimulus package. This includes $335 million for sexually transmitted disease education, $150 million for honey bee insurance, $600 million for new vehicles for federal employees, $4.2 billion for the Department of Housing and Urban Development to buy and redevelop foreclosed homes and an additional $1 billion to make the Census go smoothly.
"Ignoring the potential value some of these programs have, they will do little to actually employ Americans in the near future. In fact, the total bill creates 32 new programs and most of the spending that is part of the stimulus will not actually take place until after 2010. Further, if the plan is to create or save three million jobs, it would do so at a cost of $275,000 per job over two years, an outrageous sum. Finally, in a February 4, 2009 letter to Senator Judd Gregg, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office issued their official estimate that by 2019 the current stimulus package would have a meaningful negative effect on our economy due to the tremendous expense of the bill and the increase in government debt it would create.
"Quite simply, we cannot to be so wasteful in our spending. In the five months since our government began actively addressing our economic problems we have already increased the national debt by more than $1 trillion (an increase of more than 11 percent on the total debt). Additionally, the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation have already offered more than $8.7 trillion dollars in loans to private companies. These gargantuan sums are money our government is ill-equipped to pay back over the long-term and we are running a very real risk of saddling future generations with suffocating debt that will prove catastrophic for our economy. In fact, this tremendous debt may lead us to inflation far in excess of the Carter era's nearly 14 percent yearly inflation, crippling our economy.
"To avoid these tremendous drawbacks, conservatives and moderates in Congress have come together to present a targeted plan that will stimulate our economy and grow jobs without the wasteful spending that was included in the House passed bill. The centerpiece of this plan is to provide immediate tax relief for working families by lowering the 15 percent and 10 percent tax brackets to 10 percent and 5 percent, respectively. This tax break will help more than 100 million Americans with average cuts ranging from $500 to more than $1100. As President Kennedy and President Reagan knew when proposing stimulus packages, tax cuts are the fastest way to insert money into our economy and these cuts will immediately assist our working families with the help they need until our job creation efforts can help turn the economy around.
"In addition, this plan includes provisions to assist our small businesses, unemployed Americans and the housing industry. The plan would aid small businesses, which employ half of all Americans, by allowing them to take a tax deduction equal to 20 percent of their income, enabling these companies to retain and hire new employees. It would help the unemployed by eliminating Federal Income Tax on unemployment benefits, which averages 11 percent, giving them more take home money so that they are better able to search for employment. Finally, the plan will aid our housing industry by creating a $7,500 tax deduction for home buyers who can make a minimum down payment of 5 percent. This will encourage Americans who are interested in purchasing a home to do so now. Altogether, these provisions are designed to put money into the hands of the Americans that most need it and that are in the best position to grow our economy at half the cost of the proposed stimulus bill.
"Over the next several days members of the House and Senate will come together to discuss the final shape of the stimulus package. During this debate, I promise that I will make my voice heard in calling for a targeted bill that grows our economy without wasting taxpayer dollars. However, make no mistake: there will be no easy answers to our economic struggles. In order to help move our nation out of this recession we must all come together to take the best ideas from all sides of the political spectrum so that we can craft policies which grow our economy and protect our country's long-term vitality."