09.09.2010 1

The Gang that Couldn’t Shoot Straight

“This is just the gang that couldn’t shoot straight,” remarked Americans for Limited Government (ALG) President Bill Wilson of the White House’s latest plan to spend another $50 billion in fiscal “stimulus” for so-called infrastructure projects.

Almost two years into the Barack Obama’s term of office, Americans are increasingly skeptical about the effectiveness of Keynesian deficit-spending as a means of boosting the flailing U.S. economy. In a recent poll by Rasmussen Reports, 56 percent of likely voters believe that additional government spending will hurt the economy

It’s little wonder. In the last month, unemployment rose to 9.6 percent, while growth has slowed to 1.6 percent in the second quarter. The people remember that the Obama Administration promised more than 3 percent growth and that unemployment would not rise above 8 percent.

After over $1 trillion in spending and another $2 trillion expansion of the monetary base by the Federal Reserve, nobody can argue that the “stimulus” efforts have not been robust. Unfortunately, more of this failed prescription is all the Obama team has to offer.

In a speech in Ohio on Wednesday, Barack Obama laid out his plans for more of the same. “We want to put more Americans back to work rebuilding America — our roads, railways, and runways,” he said. Really, it’s just more spending, more debt, and more resources taken away from other productive sectors of the economy.

Obama attempted to lay blame for the weak economy at the feet of Republicans, who have been out of the majority for almost four years. The trouble with this approach, of course, is that since Democrats took control of Congress in 2007, all of the most unpopular pieces of big legislation have passed.

The $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, the $814 billion “stimulus,” the $2.5 trillion ObamaCare, the financial takeover, the nationalization of housing finance via the conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the takeovers of GM and Chrysler, and the perpetual extensions of unemployment. All were passed with Nancy Pelosi as House Speaker and Harry Reid as Senate Majority Leader.

Overall, since Democrats have taken over Congress, the national debt has increased by $4.42 trillion. To be fair, Republicans lost control of Congress because they spent too much. From 2001 through 2007, when Republicans mostly had control of Congress and the White House, they added $3.2 trillion to the debt.

The American people can add. As angry as they are with Republicans for their own recklessness, they can plainly see that Democrats are spending even more. For the people, it’s not even a partisan issue. Simply put, it’s that the spending is not working.

“At the top of their lungs, the American people are shouting, ‘stop spending,’” Wilson said.

Wilson noted, “Of the original $814 billion ‘stimulus,’ $55 billion was dedicated to transportation. About $36.5 billion of the infrastructure spending remains unspent, and its impact on the economy has been negligible with growth slowing and unemployment rising. Now Obama wants to add another $50 billion to the national debt for one more dose of the same ineffective medicine.”

Colorado Democrat Senator Michael Bennet, who is locked in a tough reelection battle with Republican Ken Buck, too is concerned about the unspent dollars from the $814 billion “stimulus.” He said, “I will not support additional spending in a second stimulus package. Any new transportation initiatives can be funded through the Recovery Act, which still contains unused funds.”

The original “stimulus” included $53.6 billion that went to states to balance their ailing budgets, $45 billion of which boosted education spending, $50 billion in green energy subsidies and tax credits, $87 billion for Medicaid, and $55 billion for transportation projects.

Since then, Congress has passed another $16.1 billion for state Medicaid spending and $10 billion for state education spending.

Taken together, all of that spending has not done much more than push money into public sector union coffers, which largely help elect Democrats to office. In that sense, it’s the most heavily tax-subsidized reelection campaign in history.

Obama may even believe that we need more spending, but at this stage the latest $50 billion “stimulus” little more than desperation to appear receptive to voters. The bottom line is that his Big Government economic program has not produced the jobs that were promised or the growth that is needed to turn the economy around.

It’s the wrong recipe, and it’s time to change course. With a $13.4 trillion national debt and not much to show for it, the first solution of getting out of this hole must be to first stop digging. The people now only wait to see if Republicans will aim for the target and present a comprehensive alternative that actually reduces and one day retires the debt.

Robert Romano is the Senior Editor of Americans for Limited Government (ALG) News Bureau.

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