"Congress Fails to Rise to the Challenges of the Day"

By Paul Ryan

Paul Ryan Wisconsin’s 1st District Congressman Paul Ryan voted against a deeply flawed spending bill today, after putting forth an alternative economic recovery package aimed at sustained job creation and those hit hardest in Southern Wisconsin. Fifteen hours after the bill text was made available, the U.S. House of Representatives voted on the conference report to H.R. 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. With only hours to review the final 1000-plus page bill text, the House agreed to the conference report by a vote of 246 – 183, without the support of Ryan, all House Republicans, and several House Democrats. Once again, there was bipartisan opposition to a partisan “stimulus” bill. The conference report is currently pending in the U.S. Senate.

Following today’s vote, Ryan issued the following statement:

Southern Wisconsin is hurting. The savings, economic security, and livelihoods of hard-working families have fallen victim to our deepening recession. The manufacturing sector – the bedrock of Southern Wisconsin’s economy for generations – continues to shed jobs at an alarming rate. In these tough times, Members of Congress need to put aside their concern for keeping their own jobs by satisfying their narrow special interest groups. Elected officials should be focused first and foremost on the jobs of those they serve.

We urgently need an effective fiscal response – we need to get this right, but this bill simply won’t work. What’s worse, it will exacerbate our crisis with spending that is slow, wasteful, and leave us with a painful debt hangover for years to come. Regretfully, this bill is a disservice to the hard-working families in Southern Wisconsin. Congress failed to rise to the challenges of the day. Americans deserve better.

After the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate each passed their own versions of H.R. 1, a conference report reconciled the differences between the two pieces of legislation. Without any input from House Republicans, the 1,073 page conference report was made available at 11:00 pm last night, brought to the House floor less than 12 hours later, and voted on at 2:30 pm today. With the true cost eclipsing $3 trillion, the 90 minutes allotted for general debate amounts to $36 billion per minute. Click here to watch Congressman Ryan make use of his $72 billion worth of debate on the House floor.

Among the final bill’s many flaws, Ryan highlighted its most egregious components:

Hidden Costs : Because all this money needs to be borrowed, the interest alone will add $300 billion. When the budget gimmicks and the funding cliffs are stripped away, and additional interest costs are included, H.R. 1’s final price tag eclipses $3 trillion. Click here for more information.

Tired, Old Ideas : On the House floor, Ryan agreed with President’s assertion that we should reject “tired, old ideas.” Ryan argued, “One-time rebate checks, special interest pork, runaway spending – those tired, old ideas didn’t work in the past administration, and they won’t work now. This is just more of the same.”

Slow Spending : Even if borrowing and spending was the path to prosperity, only a small fraction of the spending in the Majority’s bill will take place in 2009. By the start of fiscal year 2011, roughly half of the spending from this bill will remain unspent.

Wasteful Spending : The special interest wish list that made it into the final legislation includes $300 million for “green” cars and golf carts for Federal bureaucrats, $5.5 billion to improve federal buildings, $1 billion for the 2010 census, $650 million for digital TV coupons, $50 million for the National Endowment of the Arts, and Senator Reid’s last-minute $8 billion high speed Los Angeles-Las Vegas rail line. These are a few examples of dubious projects aimed at satisfying interest groups not economic recovery and job creation.

Where are the Jobs? : It is imperative that any recovery legislation help small businesses, entrepreneurs and the self-employed survive this recession and give them incentives to expand. 70% of all jobs in America come from small businesses, yet less than one percent of the conference report is devoted to tax incentives for private sector investment. More taxpayer dollars are dedicated to arts and culture, cars for federal employees, and renovating federal buildings, than to helping small businesses grow.

The Painful Road Ahead: The United States is not alone in attempting to use Keynesian stimulus to try to jump-start its economy. A borrowing binge is taking place across the world, begging the question: where is this money going to come from? It’ll have to be printed, which will stoke inflation, destroy savings and wealth. Should we remain mired in this recession, Americans could be looking at the return of stagflation.

Congressman Ryan was a leading member of the House Republican Economic Recovery Working Group, and helped craft a better path forward. Ryan’s alternative recovery package focused on fast-acting tax policy, while providing much needed assistance for those hit hardest by our deepening recession. Based on the Obama Administration’s methodology, Ryan’s alternative recovery legislation creates twice the number of jobs at half the cost.

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