Congressman Dent issued the following statement upon voting against H.R. 1, ostensibly an $825 billion “economic stimulus” bill that is in fact an all-encompassing spending bill that doesn’t focus most resources on the immediate need for job creation through advancing "shovel-ready" projects. “The concept of an economic stimulus bill is that it should be ‘timely, targeted and temporary.’ This legislation, overall, fails those three tests.
“The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that only 7 percent of the discretionary spending in the bill will be used by the end of this fiscal year and 38 percent by the conclusion of FY2010. The newly appointed CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf has said, ‘Federal agencies, states and other recipients of funding would find it difficult to properly manage and oversee a rapid expansion of existing programs so as to spend added funds quickly as they expend their normal resources.’
“This legislation devotes less than 10 percent of spending on hard infrastructure projects, which are proven to create and preserve the greatest number of American jobs. Congress can maximize job creation by dedicating funding in the stimulus bill to road and bridge construction, airport upgrades, rail and mass transit enhancements and water infrastructure improvements.
“Congress has strayed from providing temporary relief to address the immediate difficulties facing our economy by establishing over 32 new government programs at a cost of over $136 billion. As President Ronald Reagan once said, ‘A government program is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll see here on earth.’
“Many of the programs and priorities that are funded and established in this bill are efforts that I strongly support. I support increased funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). I support strengthening the federal commitment to children with disabilities under IDEA. I support expanding research under the National Science Foundation (NSF). These programs are important but they should be considered through the normal appropriations process, not included in a bill that is intended to provide an immediate boost to the economy. They must be part of our long term plan to make our country more competitive in the global economy.
“President Obama has done an excellent job setting a proper bipartisan tone by reaching out to Republicans on this issue, and I agree with him that Congress must pass legislation that creates jobs and stimulates economic development immediately. However, Speaker Pelosi lost sight of the President's goal when drafting the bill considered today on the House floor," Congressman Dent said. "I hope that the House, Senate and Obama Administration will work together over the next few weeks to develop a stimulus package that more effectively addresses the economic challenges this nation faces.”