President Obama’s call for “a new era of responsibility” will soon be tested as Congress debates the almost one trillion dollar stimulus package it has proposed. The Congressional Budget Office has already offered up its opinion on the new era of responsibility by essentially calling the stimulus legislation not responsible and also ineffective.
A Congressional Budget Office report on a stimulus bill pushed by House Democrats estimated that, of $355.5 billion in discretionary spending and infrastructure spending in the bill, only $136.3 billion would be spent by Oct. 1, 2010 – less than 40% of the overall spending included in the analysis. The report sparked criticism from congressional Republicans, who said that Democrats had fallen short of their stated purpose of stimulating the economy.
If the Obama presidency does indeed portend a new era of not only hope and change but also more responsibility, then we should look forward to some spending restraint that goes beyond freezing Executive Office salaries (on the first day those employees are on the job). A more robust statement by President Obama would send a clear signal to his party’s leaders on Capitol Hill and to the nation regarding a new era of responsibility. It would also support the promises Obama has made about stimulus spending:
The report also suggests that the House measure would violate Obama’s rules for the stimulus package; Obama aides have said they want the bulk of the spending to occur before 2011. Obama has pledged that the measure would save or create at least 3 million jobs over the next two years.
There is a classic political turf war brewing here between the Executive and Congress. David Axelrod, still in full campaign mode, dutifully noted that:
“We should have a discussion and a debate, but we ought to move with all deliberate speed here because we do have a national emergency when it comes to the economy, and that will be our first order of business.”
That is certainly the official position of the Congress but taxpayers should remember that we had an “emergency” last year and a massive stimulus package was passed. We had a financial “emergency” last fall and a massive bailout program (TARP) was passed. We are experiencing another financial crisis this week that Treasury Secretary appointee Geithner just informed the senate Finance Committee today would require additional bailout funds. The “emergency” excuse may be valid in some instances (although I’m beginning to doubt it) but this recent CBO report on the massive stimulus plan is a red flag to any fiscally responsible politician. Stimulus does not work.
It’s time for a new era of responsibility. We’ll soon find out if President Obama is who he says he is. The test will be very simple and easy to understand: will he allow himself to be rolled by PelosiCo & Reid?