U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent (PA-15) today voted against H.R. 1, the so-called “economic stimulus bill” that in fact spends precious few resources on actual economic investment, and raises America’s debt by a record amount.

Congressman Dent issued the following statement:

“People in the Fifteenth District and across America are hurting in this economy. I strongly believe that government action is necessary to restart our economy and assist those who are struggling, but I don’t believe that the unfocused, inflated spending bill considered by the House today will achieve either of those goals.

“When it comes to legislation I try not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Unfortunately, this bill isn’t all that good. This legislation spends too much on government programs that are not targeted to stimulate economic growth and concentrates too few resources on actual job creation and help for families who have been impacted by our economic downturn.

“Despite early claims the stimulus bill would focus on infrastructure spending to create jobs, only $27.5 billion ($2.5 billion less than the House-passed level) or 3.4 percent of the bill is dedicated to highway, bridge and road projects. By contrast, nearly $200 billion is spent creating 33 new programs totaling $95 billion (30 percent of all appropriations) and expanding 73 existing programs by $92 billion. Many of the programs that are funded in this bill are good programs that I have supported, but I don't believe funding for Census expenses or maintenance at the Smithsonian Institution will stimulate our economy.

“To put this spending into perspective, $789 billion is enough to give every person in Pennsylvania more than $63,000. Under this bill, to create 3 million jobs, we will have spent $262,000 per job. In this one bill, we are spending almost as much as the annual discretionary budget for the entire federal government. And let’s not forget, we will still have a $3 trillion budget to pass, military appropriations for the ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, and other spending measures yet to come before the House.

“Even if this bill creates as many jobs in the immediate as promised, I am seriously concerned about the long-term consequences of the $1.1 trillion price tag ($789 billion plus interest payments of $347 billion). A non-partisan Congressional Budget Office analysis states that ‘each dollar of additional debt crowds out about a third of a dollar’s worth of private domestic capital.’ More debt will result in less private investment in our economy and less private investment will undoubtedly result in fewer jobs.

“I would have much preferred a more targeted, timely and temporary job-creation bill. I supported an alternative bill that would have focused on job-creating hard infrastructure projects, while providing individuals, small businesses and manufacturers with targeted tax relief to create jobs. That bill would have cost half of H.R. 1 and created two times the number of jobs.

“I am disappointed with the process by which this legislation was crafted and also considered. This was a thousand-page spending bill that was not available for Members of Congress to read until just a few short hours before the final vote. This bill is the largest spending bill in U.S. history and I believe Congress owed it to the American public to thoroughly review and analyze both the long and short term impact of the legislation.

“Although I did not support passage of this bill, I am committed to working with the President in addressing the many challenges that face our economy and nation.”

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