“A national debt if it is not excessive,” Alexander Hamilton advised, “will be to us a national blessing.”
Today, Hamilton must be turning over in his grave. Congress is moving forward with an economic stimulus plan that will swell this fiscal year’s deficit to roughly $2 trillion, or an astounding 13 percent of GDP. Adjust those dollars for inflation, and even our nation’s earliest and most iconic proponent of a national debt would cringe at the danger we are creating for our economy and for future generations.
As it hammers out the final details of the stimulus bill, Congress should pay more than lip service to Hamilton’s words. We must reconcile the nation’s need for quick action with the need for prudent policies designed to spur sustainable job creation here in America. That means not only tax relief for working families but in particular for the small businesses, entrepreneurs and self-employed that create well over half of the jobs in our country. Given the choice, Americans would prefer a permanent job in the private sector to temporary work courtesy of the taxpayer dime.
Unfortunately, the stimulus bill that has emerged falls hopelessly short of the mark, crippled by non-stimulative spending and insufficient tax cuts. How can we expect Republicans to vote on a bill that spends $12 on new cars for the federal government for every $1 in tax relief to small businesses?
Two weeks ago, after the House GOP hosted a hearing on the stimulus with former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, we sent the president-elect a letter detailing our findings. Today House GOP leadership met with President Obama to outline more of our ideas and concerns.
House Republican leaders conveyed our desire to work with him and the Democrat majority to improve the stimulus package. But with a watchful eye toward the ballooning deficit, we made clear that we strongly oppose any wasteful spending that disregards the genuine path to economic growth and only establishes the need for future tax increases.
Nor will we quietly swallow the $219 billion House Democrats have proposed in infrastructure and so-called discretionary spending that the Congressional Budget Office says won’t be spent by Oct. 1, 2010. That’s because House Republicans have different ideas over how we stem unemployment and promote lasting job growth. We are inherently skeptical of promises that three million sustainable jobs will fall from the sky like manna simply by spending hundreds of billions.