I was pleased when President Obama announced his plans to jump start our economy by cutting taxes and investing in infrastructure.  Unfortunately, while our economy continues to falter, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Appropriations Chairman David Obey, and other Democrats in Congress insist that a new massive spending package is the best way to help stimulate the economy in the short term.  I have many concerns with the $819 billion bill that is currently moving through Congress.  If enacted into law in its current form, the Pelosi-Obey bill would be the most expensive piece of legislation in history, heaping mountains of new debt on future generations.  That does not put our country in a position to be competitive in future years.

We have already seen the problems that can arise from writing a massive government blank check.  The Troubled Assets Relief Program, which Congress approved last fall, authorized spending a total of $700 billion to help financial institutions with the fallout from the housing and credit crisis. Unfortunately, the funds were not used as promised.  Instead, they were redirected and used to help companies like AIG – companies that have already mismanaged the money they received.  That is exactly why I opposed releasing the second half of the $700 billion to the Treasury Department.  Instead, I chose to support a bill introduced by my colleague from Texas, Louie Gohmert. His tax holiday bill would have stopped the remaining $350 billion and instead authorized a two-month freeze on federal income taxes, allowing Americans to keep more of their paychecks. 
That’s the sort of fast-acting stimulus our country needs – one that lets taxpayers decide how their money should be spent.  The Pelosi-Obey bill does not do what’s needed to create new jobs and get our economy on track.  Instead, it creates a new set of government programs and provides funding to existing programs that already have difficulty spending their large, unspent balances.

Alternative proposals continue to be offered, and I believe many of these ideas have merit and should be taken into consideration.

Instead of spending billions of dollars on programs that don’t create jobs, an effective stimulus package should help small businesses thrive. Small businesses, those with fewer than 500 employees, make up 85 percent of our economy and by far the largest source of new jobs in America. Small businesses often pay up to 35 percent of their income in taxes; lowering those taxes would immediately free up funds for small businesses to retain jobs and create new ones. To achieve that goal, Republicans in Congress have proposed giving small businesses a tax deduction equal to 20 percent of their income.

Small businesses are the first to recover during periods of economic turmoil. Helping small businesses is a necessary step in any stimulus package, but the bill given to us by Democratic leadership doesn’t empower small businesses; it simply empowers the government.

Congressman Mike Simpson of Idaho and I recently wrote a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey expressing our desire for a targeted stimulus effort that addresses transportation and infrastructure needs, reduces the tax burden on American families and gives businesses the tools they need to create jobs.

There is no doubt we would all benefit from additional funding to build new roads or maintain current ones, and the jobs that would result from those efforts.  However, the fact about the Pelosi-Obey bill that doesn’t receive attention is that out of the $825 billion, less than five percent is dedicated to such projects.  When you spread that amount across 50 states and thousands of communities, it fails to provide the stimulus we were originally led to believe it would.

Finally, any economic recovery plan must not raise taxes to pay for new government spending. The huge amounts of spending contained in the House Democrat bill understandably cause concern that Congress will try to raise Americans’ taxes in the future to pay for it. That’s why I have joined my colleagues in asking for a provision that will prevent raising taxes at any time to pay for this new spending. Instead, it should be paid for by reducing government spending elsewhere.

Congress needs to act to improve our country’s economic situation. But it is crucial that we take the right actions.  Funding for global-warming research and physics research – both of which are provisions contained in the Pelosi-Obey bill – may be worthy projects, but they do not address the most pressing economic needs we face.  They do not belong in this bill. We must use common sense and restraint in deciding how to accomplish our goal of getting our economy back on its feet.

We should focus on creating jobs, not just more work. The Pelosi-Obey bill being considered in Congress does just the opposite. Our focus should be on the short term, but if we fail to consider the long-term consequences, I fear we will find ourselves at the drawing board again very soon.