Op-Ed: Failure Of The "Stimulus" One Year Later
One year ago today the President signed into law the $787 billion, "American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009," aka the "stimulus package." We were told the stimulus was needed to jumpstart the economy and address the dramatic job losses sweeping the nation due to the economic downturn. However, one year later, national unemployment hovers around 10%, with California facing a devastating unemployment rate of at least 12.5%. So I pose the question, Has the stimulus been effective in creating jobs or improving the economic conditions facing American workers? Given the number of Americans who remain out of work and the fact that 49 out of 50 states have had negative job growth since the stimulus was signed into law, it would be fair to question the success of that $787 billion boondoggle.
The idea that increased deficit spending can cure recessions has been tested, and it has failed, which is why I voted against the stimulus package. Increasing productivity and stimulating economic activity from the bottom up in the private sector is a strategy that works. That can be accomplished by lowering tax rates, directed suspension of the capital gains tax, and reducing regulation of small businesses to reinvigorate the economy and create jobs.
Last year, President Obama promised Americans that his "stimulus package" would create 3.5 million jobs by the end of 2010. Instead 2.8 million jobs have been LOST since that promise was made and nearly 10% of American workers are unemployed. The American people know what's happening, it's clear as day. That's why, according to a recent CBS News report, only 6% of Americans believe that the President's stimulus plan has created jobs.
In January of 2009, when the stimulus plan was racing through the Democrat-controlled Congress toward the President's desk, the unemployment rate stood at 7.7%. With the passage of the stimulus plan, the President promised that the unemployment rate would not reach 8%. That promise has been broken. As of February 16, 2010, the unemployment rate stands at a whopping 9.7%. That number jumps to a staggering 16.5% unemployed rate, when counting workers who can only find part-time jobs or who are too discouraged to keep looking for work but wish they could find it. 334,000 Americans, just in the past year, have been desperately looking for work but have given up, no thanks to the stimulus.
It's also worth noting, a year after this stimulus boondoggle was sold to the American people under the guise of a recovery plan that its price tag has increased by $75 billion, from the original $787 billion to $862 billion.
Contrary to the recent assertion of Vice President Joe Biden that the Stimulus is "one of the best run programs in terms of fraud and abuse and waste of any program the federal government has ever initiated," there is mounting evidence that the $862 billion supposedly being used to create jobs is actually being spent on pet projects totally unrelated to any effort to improve the economic conditions of America, and no one seems to be keeping a close eye on the books. According to errors found on the administration's own Recovery.gov website, 440 non-existent Congressional districts received stimulus funds totaling an enormous $6.4 billion.
A serious recovery plan must be a targeted, temporary, and immediate jolt to spur economic growth. Congress must learn from the failure of the President's Stimulus and refocus on assembling a bipartisan package of proven solutions to get Americans back to work. This is no time for political games or just saying no. Congress must seize this moment for action.
The bottom-line is that people want and need jobs, yet the Democrats' policies of higher taxes, runaway spending, government takeovers and record debt are having a chilling effect on job creators across the country. And they seem to want to continue down the same road of increased spending and government debt.
In February, the Democrats passed a $1.9 trillion increase in the national debt limit and refused to consider one single bill that would have reduced government spending.
The Democrats' economic policies of spending more, borrowing more, taxing more, and running up the deficit at a record pace over the past year are obvious failures, and I hope that the President and his Democrat allies in Congress will change course and begin to work in a bipartisan and responsible way to promote job creation and economic growth.