The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (H.R. 1), commonly referred to as the stimulus, was signed into law by President Obama on February 17, 2009. I opposed passage of the measure because I concur with the many established economists who felt H.R. 1 was too light on economic incentives and infrastructure investment and too heavy on long-term social programs. While the measure purported to create a stimulus for our economy, in reality it created unprecedented federal spending financed by future generations.
Unfortunately, implementation of the stimulus has been less than successful. Dollars have been spent on questionable priorities, the jobs promised have not materialized, and accountability has been lacking. This has led the House leadership to consider a subsequent measure in their attempt to stimulate the economy, the Jobs for Main Street Act.
This second stimulus would invest an additional $75 billion in infrastructure, funding highways projects, transit agencies, Amtrak, school renovations, and housing programs. It would provide funding to states and localities to maintain public service jobs for teachers, firefighters and police officers, and would also extend assistance to the unemployed by continuing unemployment payments and healthcare opportunities. The bill totals $150 billion and would be funded via a two-pronged approach. The infrastructure funding would be offset by redirecting $75 billion from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and the remainder would be deemed emergency spending.
The Jobs for Main Street Act is, in my opinion, more of the same failed policies put forth by the Democratic leadership and the Obama Administration. I question if spending these dollars is truly an emergency, given almost $800 billion in emergency spending that was injected into the economy via the stimulus last February with little positive impact. The Jobs for Main Street Act will only exacerbate the debt we have created for our children and grandchildren. Even more troubling is the prospect of using unspent TARP funds for purposes other than paying down the national debt. TARP was designed to be a temporary program aimed at ensuring liquidity in credit markets, not a funding mechanism for unrelated government programs.
I realize Congress must do more to sustain and grow our economy. I believe we should do this by prioritizing government spending, making responsible decisions, paying down our debt, and implementing policies that embolden the marketplace, such as tax cuts. I do not believe we can spend our way out of our economic troubles, but unfortunately the Jobs for Main Street Act, much like the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, continues this misguided approach.