NORMA CAPPELLETTI: This Stimulus Plan Not Likely to Stimulate Much
To say that I was dismayed when I read the editorial entitled "So Much for Change and Bipartisanship" in the Feb. 1 edition of The Pilot is putting it mildly.
Since when has the definition of bipartisanship meant voting for anything presented, regardless of its contents?
The term "bipartisanship" denotes periods of inter-party cooperation on foreign and domestic affairs not only in passing a bill, but also, more importantly, in formulating the legislation.
Democrats conceived the stimulus package that passed the House of Representatives. They inserted many provisions for special-interest-group-funding that will have little effect on the economy.
There are others who apparently agree with the House Republicans, and 11 Democrats who voted against President Obama's stimulus package.
Christina Romer, Obama's chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, wrote in a study, "Our estimates suggest that fiscal actions contributed only moderately to recoveries." Two UCLA economists published a study in 2004 finding that FDR's similar New Deal policies prolonged the Great Depression by seven years.
The following statement is from a full-page newspaper ad the Cato Institute ran in January. More than 200 economists, including Nobel laureates, signed it:
"We the undersigned do not believe that more government spending is a way to improve economic performance. More government spending by Hoover and Roosevelt did not pull the United States economy out of the Great Depression in the 1930s. More government spending did not solve Japan's 'lost decade' in the 1990s. Lower tax rates and a reduction in the burden of government are the best ways of using fiscal policy to boost growth."
The stimulus bill that passed the House of Representatives follows the same plan that ruined Japan's economy.
On February 2, Matt Kibbe of Freedom Works wrote :
"After 10 stimulus packages, Japan has gone from having the second-strongest economy in the world to being well behind the new No. 2, China, and is close to falling behind India."
The original bill was full of wasteful projects. We were told that the stimulus bill would focus on rebuilding America's infrastructure -- mainly the roads and bridges; however, only 5 percent of the bill went to such projects.
The original bill funded pet projects like $400 million for researching sexually transmitted diseases, $200 million to force the military to buy environmentally friendly electric cars, $34 million to renovate the Department of Commerce headquarters, $75 million for a program to end smoking, $650 million for digital TV coupons, and $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts.
The above information lists only a few of the provisions in the original bill that Republicans and 11 Democrats could not support. Some have already been removed.
There is the possibility that under the legislation, millions would be granted to community organizations. Should increased funding be granted to ACORN, the community organization that fraudulently registered voters? (One registrant who was solicited by ACORN members stated that he registered to vote 73 times.)
The cost of the stimulus package that passed the House was estimated at $825 billion, an amount that could increase, that we can ill-afford and that will be paid for by present and future generations.
How much is $825 billion? The Heritage Foundation has calculated that it would amount to more than $10,000 per American family.
Before a test vote of 61-36 was reached in the Senate on Monday, the Congressional Budget Office estimated the cost at $838 billion, an increase from the $827 billion in the House bill. We can only hope that bipartisan efforts to correct the bill in the Senate, in the House or by a Conference Committee will result in a document that will accomplish the original intent of the legislation, which is to stimulate the economy.
Historian and political statesman Alexis de Tocqueville's words sound an alarm -- "The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money."
Norma Cappelletti, a former Connecticut state representative, lives in Pinehurst.
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