LATHAM REPORT: AMERICAN PEOPLE’S WAKE UP CALL ON WASHINGTON SPENDING IGNORED
Jan 29, 2010 -
By Iowa Congressman Tom Latham
Iowa’s 4th Congressional District
The American people continue to try and send Washington a wake-up call, but it appears those in power have decided to hit the snooze button and carry on with their destructive and unpopular agenda. Americans have voiced their opposition to big spending and government expansion at demonstrations, in crammed town hall meetings and at the ballot box in several states. Their message is unmistakable. They want economic opportunity and fiscal responsibility. Washington delivered neither in 2009.
The $787 billion stimulus bill has failed to live up to the lofty promises made by its supporters, who claimed that its passage would keep unemployment below 8 percent. The national jobless rate has held at 10 percent for three months now, but even that figure doesn’t quite tell the tale. When you throw in those who are underemployed or those who have stopped looking for work, the real unemployment rate becomes even worse.
A lack of transparency and accountability in how the stimulus funds were spent further muddies the water. The White House came under attack for citing demonstrably bogus numbers of jobs saved or created as a result of stimulus spending. In response, the administration has made it more difficult to track spending by changing its rules for how the government counts jobs paid for with stimulus funds. Under the new rules, the stimulus is credited for any job that uses stimulus funds to cover its payroll, including pay raises for existing workers and pay for employees whose jobs were never in danger of being cut. This practice will artificially inflate the “jobs created or saved” figures and make stimulus spending, already nearly impossible to keep track of, even murkier.
Even top White House officials are finding it difficult to get a handle on the number of jobs saved by the stimulus. Appearing on various talk shows last Sunday, three different White House advisers gave three different estimates of how many jobs have been saved due to stimulus spending. Senior Adviser David Axelrod put the total at more than 2 million jobs. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the stimulus has saved or created 1.5 million jobs. Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett claimed the stimulus has saved “thousands and thousands” of jobs.
The American people have noticed the confusion in the White House. Nearly three-quarters of respondents to a recent CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll said they think at least half of the stimulus spending has been a waste. About 21 percent of respondents said nearly all the money has been wasted, 24 percent said most of the money has been wasted, and another 29 percent said about half has been wasted, according to CNN.
To make matters worse, Congress looks poised to put together another stimulus bill in the coming months. The House already approved a $150 billion “son of stimulus” bill in December just before adjourning for the holidays. Referred to as a “jobs” plan by supporters, the bill, much like its predecessor, would do little to spark job growth but would certainly add to the national debt.
Washington must learn that we can’t spend our way back to prosperity. Instead, we need comprehensive tax relief for working families and small businesses, the real engines of job growth. The answer has never been expansive government takeovers of key sectors of our economy. The American people can see that, but Congress, as is so often the case, remains blind to the real solutions.