Weekly Columns

Stimulus Part II: More of the Same?

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Washington, September 14, 2011 | comments

President Obama sent another stimulus bill to Congress that will cost taxpayers about $450 billion, most of which will be “paid for” with $467 billion in new taxes. For too long, the federal government has recklessly spent beyond its means, and this legislation is more of the same. Washington has a spending problem, not a taxing problem, and we must break this cycle of borrowing, spending and taxing. 

In order to get our economy moving and create jobs in Tennessee and across the country, we must adhere to the following principles: get wasteful Washington spending under control; reduce unnecessary and burdensome regulations; repeal the president’s health care law and the Dodd-Frank legislation; revamp the tax code to encourage economic growth; and work towards a more energy independent America.

It is imperative to the future of the country that we fight for an immediate shift toward fiscal responsibility. That is why I voted for the Cut, Cap and Balance Act, specifically because it advocates discretionary and mandatory spending reductions that would cut the deficit in half next year; includes statutory, enforceable total-spending caps to reduce federal spending to 18% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP); and requires a Balanced Budget Constitutional Amendment (BBA) with strong protections against federal tax increases. 

Many community banks and credit unions in Tennessee are suffering because of the new regulations created through the Dodd-Frank bill.  These new rules are increasing expenses, making it harder for banks and credit unions to lend money that can be used to start and grow businesses.  Washington bureaucrats have overreached and are trying to take over the financial sector through the Dodd-Frank bill.  Getting capital flowing again is a critical part of the environment necessary for job creation.

We must also reduce unnecessary regulations that are burdening businesses in Tennessee and around the country. Excessive federal regulation is a de facto tax on employers and consumers that stifles job creation, hampers innovation and postpones investment in the economy. When the game is always changing, small businesses cannot properly plan for the future. To provide certainty, we will require congressional approval of any new federal regulation that has an annual cost to our economy of $100 million or more. This is the threshold at which the government deems a regulation “economically significant.” If a regulation is so “significant” and costly that it may harm job creation, Congress should vote on it first.

That is why I am a cosponsor of H.R. 10, the REINS Act, which restricts unelected federal bureaucrats from imposing huge costs on the economy and American people through burdensome regulations.  I am hopeful Congress will vote on the bill this fall.

While I support investment in our infrastructure and the education system, the president had a chance to invest stimulus dollars in these projects when he passed the near trillion-dollar package in January 2009.  However, reports show that instead of investing in long-term infrastructure projects and education, much of the money was spent irresponsibly.  Furthermore the Education and Workforce Committee, of which I am a member, has passed bills that invest in education, including infrastructure in our schools. We don’t need more duplicative programs and more excessive spending.

The president reported that his last stimulus package would create or save over 3 million jobs in the first two years. It’s past that time, and according to the recent unemployment numbers released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 14 million Americans are unemployed. In February 2009 when the stimulus was signed into law, unemployment in Tennessee was at 9.1 percent. Any way you cut it, another stimulus bill leads us the wrong way. 

Washington cannot keep doing more of the same – trying to tax, borrow and spend our way to prosperity. I still believe there are responsible ways to promote job growth and stimulate the economy, but we sure can’t continue down this path of reckless spending.

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