$825 Billion, and Not One Job May Result

The public dance began yesterday at the markup of the proposed $825 billion Democrat spending bill disguised as a stimulus package in the House Ways and Means Committee.  Amid the posturing and rhetoric of the long, slow process that is the reading and amending of a bill in committee, a stunning truth about this spending bill managed to find daylight.  Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), the Republican ranking committee member, questioned Thomas Barthold, the deputy chief of staff of the non-partisan Joint Committee on Taxation, about jobs creation in the Democrat bill (video here).

“Can you tell me Mr. Barthold, how many jobs will be created as a result of this legislation?” Camp asked.  Barthold replied, “In short, Mr. Camp, I can’t.”  Camp then pressed Barthold to clarify his position, “So we don’t have an estimate of the number of jobs this would create either private sector or public?  We don’t have any estimate of the economic effect that this legislation would have on our economy, whether it would create any growth in our economy at all?  We don’t have that data before the committee today?”  Barthold then nodded his head and shrugged.

The Democrat “stimulus” bill — a bill that was created behind closed doors by Democrat leadership who usurped the normal committee process — reaches nearly a trillion dollars in spending, and the non-partisan analysts cannot guarantee that this $825 billion in proposed legislation would create one single job.  

This brings to mind the pre-bailout testimony of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke last fall.  While then-Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson was predicting the apocalypse if he didn’t get his $700 billion to buy up bad securities, Bernanke was honest enough to tell a Senate hearing that we really didn’t know how much Paulson’s plan would cost or whether it would work.

Barthold’s honesty won’t do more than Bernanke’s did:  House Speaker Pelosi and her band will pass this porkfest regardless of the lack of even theoretical proofs it will aid our economy.

The creation of jobs is key to any stimulus of the economy, and House Republicans in the alternative are pushing for the free market solution of tax cuts to let working families and business who create the jobs in this country keep more of their own money to put back into the economy.  The fundamental differences in the solutions to the economic morass offered from each side of the aisle could not be any clearer.

I spoke with House Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) outside the committee room about any Republican plans to try to bring some sanity into this effort.  Cantor told me, “I am going to be meeting with the President next week with the Republican working group to try and lay out our vision of how we believe a stimulus bill should look, a bill that should be focused on the preservation, protection and creation of jobs.  Given what Charlie Rangel and Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and the rest on the Democrat side on the Hill are doing, I am very fearful that we are not going to get it right, which is why we have to all speak out and say, look, we can’t keep going borrowing money to spend on favorite pet programs just to put us trillions of dollars more in debt when what we could be doing is doing it the smart way by providing tax relief for middle class families, small business, entrepreneurs, so that we can get this economy going again. … It is very clear that the White House is going to be able to shape this, which is why it is very important that we go to the White House and bring the President our proposals to make this a bill that works.”

When I spoke with ranking Republican member Camp about some of the guts of this leviathan legislation, he said, “The initial version of the bill that we heard about was encouraging because there were some tax incentives that would help some employers with job creation, but those have been adjusted and now there is more emphasis on spending. … They’re giving money to people who have no tax liability — not just income tax but those who don’t even pay any payroll taxes.  That really isn’t a refund, it’s a transfer payment, a cash payment.”

When asked about what could realistically come out of the meeting with the President next week, Camp responded, “I think President Obama’s charge has been to come up with not a Republican solution, not a Democrat solution, but an American solution.  This bill was written without any input from Republicans, clearly hastily put together.  They can’t even tell us how many jobs their bill will create.  They can’t even tell us whether this will affect the economy or not.  These are fundamental questions they can’t answer.   Our approach is to have broad-based tax relief for families, try to create jobs, and really stimulate the economy.  These are the kinds of ideas we will be bringing to the meeting with the President.”

Will common sense prevail?  You can bet your last billion it won’t.