Make no mistake about it. Our nation is in the midst of a financial crisis unlike any other since the Great Depression. Many have lost their job and more are wondering if they will be next. And as the stock market continues its downward spiral, millions of Americans are watching not only their home values plummet, but also their pension funds and investments.
There is no question that Washington needed to take action to help stimulate the economy, but the real question was what kind of action was necessary and what kind of methods would give us the real economic jump start we need without producing even worse long term effects?
And while I firmly believe bold action is required, I voted against the stimulus package because it was clear that the bill was too expense, too vague, produced too few jobs, and added too much long term debt.
Investors also seem less than confident in the stimulus and other recent expenditures by the Administration, helping to drive the Dow Jones Industrials to a 25-year low last week.
And while it may seem like this money was produced out of thin air, the stimulus came with a sobering price tag of $1.14 trillion dollars. That's $792 billion for the package itself and an additional $347 billion in interest. And remember, that money is not being spent in a vacuum.
The $1.14 trillion stimulus package doesn't include the $750 billion used to stabilize the financial markets last fall, the 5 month over-due $410 billion Omnibus Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2009, or the President's recently announced budget - which is forecasted to increase the national debt to $12.3 trillion.
One thing is sure, our children and grandchildren will be stuck paying for this massive government spending spree at a time when Medicare and Social Security entitlements are forecasted to explode. And while I applaud the President's call for a "New Era of Responsibility," this stimulus hardly seems responsible, leaving each American family with an added $9,418 in new spending and national debt.
But not only is this spending irresponsible in size, but it will most likely be ineffective. For example, how will $2 billion for the Neighborhood Stabilization Fund, $8 billion for high-speed rail from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and from Wisconsin to Illinois, $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts and $300 million for golf-carts for the federal government create new jobs for Americans?
What we need is real stimulus that will really work.
The tax cuts of 1964, 1981, 2001 and 2003 all produced significant job creation and led to sustained economic growth. It's a proven fact that when allowed to keep more of their own hard-earned money, the American taxpayer is a much more effective economic stimulant than the federal government.
That's why I supported an alternative stimulus plan that would have produced twice as many jobs with only half the cost as the Administration's plan. Unfortunately, in the midst of all the bipartisan talk, this alternative was never allowed to come to the floor for consideration or a vote.
If enacted the stimulus bill I supported would have provided immediate tax relief for working families lowering the lowest individual tax rate from 15% to 10%, saving couples filing jointly up to $3,400 a year in taxes. It also would have allowed small businesses to take a tax deduction equal to 20% of their income, encouraging immediate investment and funds to hire new employees. The Republican alternative also sought to make unemployment benefits tax free, so that those looking for work could keep more for their families.
I came to Congress with a steadfast belief that less government and lower taxes are the bedrocks to a strong nation and a strong economy. And in spite of the rising tide of big government and higher taxes, I will continue to fight for the American family and small business. Especially in uncertain and difficult economic times, the government should be working to lessen the load on its citizens, not increase it.
The American people deserve better.