As I've traveled the Third District, I've had the chance to meet with hundreds of Nebraskans. They are concerned about our economy and the ever increasing intrusion by the government into our lives. They are frustrated Congress continues to pass one stimulus bill after another without actually improving our economy.
Our nation's unemployment rate remains nearly 10 percent - and would be much higher if the official calculations took into account the growing number of Americans who have become so discouraged they have given up looking for work. Home foreclosures are rising, as lenders repossessed 92,858 properties last month, up nine percent from June and an increase of six percent from July 2009. The U.S. government paid nearly $20 billion in interest on our nation's $13 trillion debt last month, a debt which continues to rise every single day.
Congress has the responsibility to find ways to get Americans back to work, stabilize our economy, and put our fiscal house in order. Unfortunately, Democrats in the House recently did the same thing they've done a number of times before - pushed through another stimulus bill which will do nothing to reduce the unemployment rate in this country and will, in fact, hurt job creation through increased taxes on American companies.
The bill, H.R. 1586, contains a total of $26.1 billion in short-term state bailouts paid for with permanent tax increases. It provides $10 billion for a state education bailout which can only be used to pay teacher salaries. In order to receive the education money, states would be prohibited from reducing their education budgets below 2009 levels and the federal money could not be used to reduce states' debt. In other words, the bill doesn't just shield states from making tough budget choices; it actually forbids them from doing so. This is particularly problematic for Nebraska, which set its 2010 education budget in 2009. Under this new law, Nebraska would have to add another $30 million to its $750 million state deficit to receive its share of the education bailout. Either way, Nebraska taxpayers will ultimately pay for the bailout, regardless of eligibility.
The bill's temporary spending is partially offset by $9.6 billion in permanent tax increases on U.S. multinational companies. These tax increases already have been used by Democrats at least three other times as offsets for other spending bills and could risk jobs and put American companies at a competitive disadvantage during a recession.
The National Association of Manufacturers has criticized this approach, stating "imposing $9.6 billion in tax increases on these companies...will jeopardize the jobs of American manufacturing employees and stifle our fragile economy." The U.S. Chamber of Commerce also warned this bill will "impose draconian tax increases on American worldwide companies that would hinder job creation, decrease the competitiveness of American businesses, and deter economic growth."
Several other business groups, representing tens of millions of employees, also have expressed their opposition to this misguided legislation noting it will jeopardize jobs, discourage investment, and thwart economic recovery.
The claims this bill is fully paid for ring hollow and amount to a Washington-style shell game. The bill claims to save billions through cuts to food stamp benefits, cuts which will no doubt be rescinded before their scheduled enactment nearly five years from now.
The American people know we can't tax, borrow, spend, or bail our way back to a growing economy. They are seeing the results of failed policies and are desperately looking for a new direction.
Congress cannot continue to deny its responsibility for fiscal discipline and pass stimulus bill after stimulus bill and expect different results. Another multi-billion dollar federal bailout only sets a dangerous precedent of expanding the role of the federal government in local schools and diminishing the role of parents, teachers, and local communities.
The more we increase taxes on American job creators, the longer our nation's economy will continue to struggle. It's time to stop raising taxes, encourage investment, and put our trust not in public sector programs, but in private sector job creators.