Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Rep. Roe Fails On Economic Issues, Votes No For Stimulus

It is rather sad but not very surprising that 1st District Congressman Phil Roe is relying on hardline Republican opposition to plans for an economic stimulus rather than any of his own fact-finding or decision making.

He voiced his decision to oppose the proposal being voted on today and cited some false but headline-grabbing details to bolster his views.

He cited a Congressional Budget Office Report which really did not exist and has ignored the full report from the CBO which supports the stimulus released on Monday. Yes, even though I am not in Washington or have a full-time congressional staff working for me, I was able to discover critical differences between the two reports while Congressman Roe just repeated what he was told to say.

The actual report on the full proposal found that it would have a noticeable impact on economic growth and that:

Specifically, they estimate that in the spending portion of the bill, $477 billion out of $604 billion would be disbursed either this fiscal year or in the next two fiscal years. That's 79% of the total.

I guess opinions can vary on this, but that strikes me as pretty good. What's more, most of the spending that comes in FY2012 or later is either for projects that simply take more than two years to complete (highways, school repairs) or infrastructure improvements that have long-term paybacks (renewable energy programs). There are a few other items in the out years that are more arguable, but they add up to a pretty small portion of the bill.

Overall, then, it looks like the spending part of the bill is maybe 90% clean as short-term stimulus. And on the supply side, nearly 100% of the tax cuts are allocated during the next 18 months. Given the realities of the appropriations process, I'm not sure the White House could have done much better than this. Looks like pretty good work from the economics team."

For a nifty and catch-phrase worthy speech, Rep. Roe also shot a derisive blast at the National Endowment for the Arts and a proposal (now removed from the bill) which would have supplied funds for birth control. He hit all the hot-button talking points and ignored any actual work he might have to perform to examine the spending plan.

Look, I have serious concerns about the way the federal government has been shelling out hundreds of billions of dollars to address our failing economy. That's why I think it's so important for my elected representative to actually do some work to examine and measure carefully how to proceed, to be vigilant but not just obstinate. Relying on partisan attacks serves no one but party bosses.

Rep. Roe might have bothered to check with - for instance - the local Hamblen County government, which has already created a special committee to determine what projects the county needs to have funded from a stimulus package, such as a building program for our schools and road and infrastructure projects which the county has had to place on hold.

Instead, he relies on a memo of talking points and ignores the needs of his own district.

Or he might even want to consider what the CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf actually told Congress about the proposal:

The bill, Elmendorf said, "would provide a substantial boost to economic activity over the next several years relative to what would occur without any legislation."

With the bill, CBO figured economic output would be between 1.3 percent and 3.6 percent higher at the end of this year, higher by a similar amount at the end of 2010 and even higher in 2011.

The help is needed to reverse a downturn that CBO estimates will easily surpass the 1981-82 and 1973-75 recessions, each of which last 16 months, by mid-year.

"It could also be the deepest recession during the postwar period in terms of the difference between actual and potential output," Elmendorf said. By his estimates, output over the next two years will average 6.8 percent below normal."

1 comment:

  1. James2:01 AM

    To me,the thing is,the Republicans are only a token resistance. The democrats control both houses so any thing theRepublicans is moot.As for critisicm for the President,I have seen much worse from the left wing.Me,Itake a wait and see attitude.