House Republicans met with President Obama yesterday -- the third time this month that I had the opportunity to discuss with him our shared goal of crafting a bipartisan plan to help fix our economy. The President has repeated on several occasions that he wants to work across party lines on a recovery plan focused on job creation. That’s why last week -- at the President's request -- my colleague in the House Republican leadership, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), and I presented him with House Republicans’ ideas for inclusion in legislation slated for a House vote later today.
Our proposals are rooted in the belief that fast-acting tax relief, rather than slow-moving and wasteful government spending, is the most effective way to protect and create jobs and help put our economy back on track. They provide relief to those who need it most: middle-class families, job seekers, small businesses owners, the self-employed, entrepreneurs, and homebuyers -- all with the goal of letting them keep more of what they earn and helping our economy create good-paying, long-lasting jobs.
Unfortunately, the congressional Democratic leadership has taken the President’s initial concept and turned it upside down, cobbling together a massive spending plan loaded slow-moving and wasteful government programs and projects. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office reported yesterday that the plan will cost more than $1.1 trillion when all is said and done -- an unacceptable amount of debt to pass along to our children and grandchildren.
Their plan is chock-full of dubious spending that has nothing to do with protecting and creating jobs. The legislation includes $650 million for digital TV coupons, $600 million for new cars for the federal government, and $6 billion for colleges/universities, many which have billion dollar endowments. There's $50 million for the National Endowment of the Arts and $44 million for repairs to U.S. Department of Agriculture headquarters.
Proponents of the legislation are bound to claim that the plan is free of taxpayer-funded earmarks, but a large chunk of the plan would direct aid to states for local projects in need of funding - a backdoor way of securing them. As a result, we've seen requests for a mob museum in Nevada, a children's water park in Arkansas, and a dog park in California. These projects have been called “shovel ready” by their supporters, but are they “shovel worthy?”
Regardless of anyone’s views on the merits of any of this spending, it just doesn't pass the straight-face test in a bill purportedly aimed at bringing our nation out of a recession and creating more jobs. Yet, even in spite of the President's calls for a plan that can be embraced by both Democrats and Republicans, this is exactly what House Democratic leaders have scheduled for a vote later today.
The American people deserve far better than the Democratic leaders in Congress have given them over the past several weeks. President Obama has promised to change the way Washington does business, but Speaker Pelosi and other Democratic leaders have broken that promise. House Republicans have pledged to work with the President and all of our Democratic colleagues when it is in the best interest of our nation. But there is nothing “new” about the massive bill Capitol Hill Democrats are bringing to the floor of the House today.
In the halls of the Democratic Congress, this plan has become just another bloated and unfocused spending package; the type of undisciplined legislation that has come to symbolize a broken Washington. Someone has to stand up for taxpayers during this debate, and Republicans will do just that -- by opposing a blizzard of wasteful spending that has nothing to do with creating jobs and working with President Obama to refocus this plan on immediate job creation and tax relief.