Wicker Says More Stimulus Spending Should Be Rejected

Senator Says Additional Borrowing Will Not Fix Economy

July 13, 2009

Earlier this year, Congress hastily passed a trillion dollar so-called stimulus bill aimed at jumpstarting our economy.  According to the president and the bill’s supporters, the plan would fund “shovel ready” projects that would create jobs quickly across the country.  I voted against this plan because I thought it borrowed too much money on the back of taxpayers and spent it on things we did not need and in a way that would not create jobs.

Now, five months after the bill was signed into law, we have yet to see any new jobs.  The stimulus’ results – or lack thereof – have led some to call for the passage of a second stimulus bill.  I strongly disagree.  Putting our nation further into debt and permanently increasing the size of the government in an attempt to fix our economy would be a major mistake.  

                              JOBS DEFICIT
In promoting the stimulus bill earlier this year, the Obama administration told the American people that the massive spending contained in the bill would create or save 3.5 million jobs and would keep the nation’s unemployment rate from rising above eight percent.  The reality is far different. 

Today, unemployment is at 9.5 percent – the highest level since 1983.  The administration is now admitting that they “misread the economy,” and is predicting unemployment will reach 10 percent.  The jobs that were promised have yet to materialize.  In fact, 467,000 additional jobs were lost last month. 

Considering the bold predictions made by the president and other supporters of the stimulus bill, the plan’s failure may be surprising to some.  However, a review of some of the “shovel ready” projects funded with federal stimulus dollars helps explain why the spending spree has not worked.  Some of the more egregious examples include: the Social Security Administration sending one-time $250 stimulus payments to 10,000 dead people; $3.4 million to build a 13 foot tunnel for turtles under a highway in Florida; an unrequested grant of more than half a million dollars awarded to a town in New York for a homelessness problem it does not have; and $40,000 in stimulus funds to pay the salary of one person in North Carolina whose job is to lobby the federal government for more stimulus money. 

With these kinds of results, it is easy to understand why a growing majority of Americans are unhappy with the so-called stimulus bill.  According to a recent Rasmussen survey, 60 percent of Americans now oppose the passage of a second stimulus bill this year. 
                                A BETTER PLAN
In opposing the stimulus bill in February, I outlined an alternative I believe would have been a true stimulus and helped get Americans back to work.  The plan focused on getting the housing market out of the gutter by providing a $15,000 tax credit to home buyers.  It also provided additional tax relief to families and workers, as well as small businesses so they could begin hiring again.  Additionally, our plan called for targeted construction projects with clear economic development purposes like highways and early investment in military equipment and facilities. 

                                  SPENDING CONTROL
It is clear the stimulus bill has not worked.  Unfortunately, America’s taxpayers are still on the hook for the almost trillion dollars we borrowed.  The president and Congressional Democrats should dismiss any calls for additional deficit spending and debt in disguise as stimulus spending. 

Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader from Kentucky, may have said it best last week.  When asked for his thoughts on a second stimulus, he said: “Down home, we used to say there is no education in the second kick from a mule.”  I completely agree.  We cannot continue to borrow and spend in hopes it will turn our economy around.  As we have learned from the results of the first stimulus, it will not.