September 26, 2008
Lewis Floor Statement on Democrat “Stimulus” Spending Bill
WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Appropriations Committee Ranking Republican Jerry Lewis gave the following statement on the floor of the House today regarding the Democrat’s $60 billion “economic stimulus” spending bill:
“Mr. Speaker, it was just two days ago that we were debating an $800 billion Continuing Resolution to fund our troops and veterans, protect our homeland, respond to natural disasters, and put our country on a path toward energy independence.
“Many Members—including this Member—reluctantly agreed to support the CR to keep the essential business of our government running through March 6th of next year. Now, in addition to being asked to pay for a bailout of Wall Street, taxpayers are being asked by House Democrats to swallow an additional $60 billion in spending on a laundry list of items I saw for the first time just a few hours ago. This would be laughable if it wasn’t so serious.
“I was reluctant to support the CR the other day because virtually every dollar was approved without the consideration of the House Appropriations Committee, without floor consideration in the House and Senate, without any amendments or input from any House Members or Senators, and without a formal House-Senate Conference Committee.
“During our debate, we all agreed on the importance of getting the Appropriations process back on track.
“Just two days later, we find ourselves back on the House floor making the very same mistakes again, debating an additional $60 billion—SIXTY BILLION DOLLARS—in spending on legislation that very few have yet seen. No committee consideration. No amendments. No debate. One more time, we are presented with a “take-it-or-leave-it” proposition. So much for getting the Appropriations process back on track.
“The majority is describing this legislation as a “stimulus package” to help our national economy. But let’s be clear about this. Let’s not fool ourselves. This is a political document, pure and simple.
“If these priorities are so important, why hasn’t this bill gone through the normal legislative process? We could have—and should have—debated many of the items included in this package during full committee and House floor consideration of each of the 12 individual spending bills. But, as we know, the majority’s unwillingness to move individual spending bills has derailed the Appropriations process this year.
“Before you make a decision on this legislation, I ask you to consider three sobering facts:
“First, of the projected $247 billion increase in the budget deficit in 2008, $226 billion results from additional spending and $21 billion results from decreased revenues.
“Second, in 2009, spending is projected to reach 21.4 percent of GDP for the first time since 1993.
“Third, balancing the federal budget by 2013 would require either limiting annual spending growth to 1.4 percent or raising annual revenue growth to 8 percent, or a combination of both. So, to balance the budget, we either need to raise taxes or spend less.
“Now, I didn’t fall off the back of the turnip truck yesterday. It doesn’t take an economist to tell you that the economy needs our help. And what does this Congress do? It proposes to spend billions and billions and billions more without ANY offsets on spending. The failure to adhere to pay-as-you-go (or what we call “PAYGO”), means that this new spending will be financed through additional borrowing which will increase interest rates and prove a further drag on our struggling economy.
“In recent days, government has taken steps to bail-out the auto industry to the tune of $25 billion. It has proposed a bail-out of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to the tune of another $25 billion. It has committed as much as $70 billion to rescue AIG. In the last few weeks, this Congress hasn’t found a cause that doesn’t need a hand-out or a bail-out. Where does the spending end, Mr. Speaker? Where does it end?
“In this time of financial instability and national anxiety over the state of our financial markets, the first goal of Congress should be to do no harm. But, this legislation does just the opposite. Is it any wonder that the approval rating of Congress is now at 13 percent? If Congress were a business, its CEO would have been fired long ago.
“Mr. Speaker, there is an old saying: “No bill is better than a bad bill.” That is especially true in this case. We would be doing our constituents—our shareholders, the American taxpayers—a tremendous favor if we took our foot off the gas for awhile. We ought to be focused on more oversight rather than more spending. Indeed, spending money is not the answer to every problem.
“Mr. Speaker, I’ve got a feeling I’ve seen this movie before. And, believe me; the sequel is always worse than the original. We must display more discipline and demonstrate better judgment in spending taxpayers’ money. There is no better time or place to begin than here and now. I strongly urge my colleagues to reject this unfettered spending spree.”