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Stimulus is too slow, wasteful

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Rep. Paul Ryan
February 9, 2009

Janesville is hurting. The savings, economic security and livelihoods of hard-working Wisconsinites have fallen victim to the deepening recession. Few communities have been hit harder than ours. As Washington politicians promise to legislate this recession away, Americans know better. They’ve looked at the trillion-dollar spending bill Congress is fast-tracking to the president’s desk and know we deserve better.


Facing the most serious recession in generations, Congress is making matters worse with a fiscal response that’s slow, wasteful and will leave us a painful debt hangover for years. This bill is bad economic policy. The bill’s so-called “tax cuts” are another round of rebate checks: $10/week for individuals and $20/week for couples. Congress tried rebates last year, and they didn’t work. These checks from Uncle Sam don’t encourage entrepreneurs; they don’t encourage investment and job creation.


The most embarrassing part of this bill is waste. It reads like a special-interest wish list: $600 million for new “green” cars for government employees, $50 million for the National Endowment of the Arts, and other dubious special-interest projects that Democrats have been fumbling to defend. Nineteen programs deemed “ineffective” or “results not demonstrated” by the Office of Management and Budget would get $54 billion.


The spending isn’t only poorly targeted but also neglects the urgency of our crisis. Only a small fraction of the money will be spent in 2009, and half of the outlays will be unspent at the start of 2011. What’s worse, the bill hastens explosion of entitlement spending, adds to our crushing debt burden and guarantees future tax hikes. This isn’t a crisis we can spend and borrow our way out of—that’s how we got here in the first place.


While breathtaking in its flaws, it’s not enough to simply oppose flawed legislation. As your representative, I have a responsibility to propose alternative solutions. I helped lead the effort to improve the Democrats’ stimulus package by offering amendments aimed at the engines of economic growth: small businesses and entrepreneurs.


As each of my amendments was rejected, I went to work on crafting an alternative that would extend and make tax-exempt unemployment insurance, address the fear and uncertainty crippling investment, and encourage job creation and economic growth with fast-acting tax policy. Using the president’s own measuring stick, our proposal would create twice as many jobs as the majority’s bill, at half the cost to taxpayers. To the detriment of those it serves, Congress opted for an inferior bill.


After this spending bill becomes law, our recession will still be with us and the challenges will be all the more difficult. Sustained economic recovery is rooted in the resilience of our families and the strength of our communities. For that reason, I remain optimistic that we’ll emerge stronger once this storm passes.


I also represent Kenosha, which was dealt a similar series of economic blows two decades ago. By rallying together and diversifying its economy, Kenosha emerged stronger than ever.


So, too, shall Janesville survive and thrive in the years ahead.


Paul Ryan of Janesville represents Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District. Send mail to Janesville Constituent Services Center, 20 S. Main St., Suite 10, Janesville, WI 53545; Washington, D.C., phone is (202) 225-3031.

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