"There is scant economic stimulus to be found in the economic stimulus package," Congressman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) said in an interview with me a few hours before the President is scheduled to give his seventh State of the Union Address, where he will promote his stimulus package. In the interview, Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Congressman Scott Garrett (R-NJ) and Congressman Hensarling all agreed that not enough is being done to stimulate the economy and not enough is being done to cut wasteful spending in Washington.
Although all three members of Congress were pleased that President Bush is planning to talk about the economy in tonight's address, they were not completely responsive to his plans about the stimulus (plans that were hammered out by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader John Boehner among others).
Congresswoman Blackburn said that Congress needs to think more long term in working to create an environment that creates jobs. Amongst other ideas, Blackburn advocated lowering the marginal tax rate and lowering the corporate tax rate to create new jobs in our economy. Congressman Hensarling added that "[I]f we wanted true economic growth...we would make our tax rate competitive with our international competitors and we would enact the economic growth act of 2008." Hensarling even said that the economic stimulus package would not prevent a recession. Congressman Garrett noted that the public understands that the "economic stimulus" plan is a short-term solution and that man on the street interviews in his home state of New Jersey reflect that knowledge, as many people believe that the stimulus plan is just a Washington political gimmick.
Each of the members of Congress interviewed wanted more to be done to stimulate the economy and they wanted the Congress to do more to fight earmarks. Hensarling described earmarks as the "tip of the iceberg" adding that the American people see the earmarks but much more of the mess of wasted tax dollars is underwater and out of sight.
As President Bush addresses wasteful spending and the economic stimulus package, there are many conservative members of the House who are advocating more stimulus for the economy and less wasteful spending. The President's plan may address the "tip of the problem" but some members of Congress, including Hensarling, Blackburn and Garrett, are trying to address the pervasive problems causing the economic slowdown.