President Barack Obama and members of Congress are acting remarkably schizophrenic — calling for economic stimulus on one hand, while allowing states to regulate emissions standards on automobiles in a manner that will harm the economy on the other.
Obama Should Veto His Stimulus Bill
Obama sold his economic plan as follows:
Put people back to work and get our economy working again. This is an extraordinary challenge, which is why I’ve taken the extraordinary step of working — even before I take office — with my economic team and leaders of both parties on an American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan that will call for major investments to revive our economy, create jobs, and lay a solid foundation for future growth.
Let’s take a look at some of the “investments” in the House Stimulus plan to see if this new pork-laden bill will “lay a solid foundation for future growth.” It includes:
• $27 billion to extend unemployment benefits through the end of 2009 and $9 billion to increase the average unemployment benefit by $25 a week (stimulus for the unemployed).
• $1 billion to provide incentive funds for states to collect child support owed to families (stimulus for the state police).
• $500 million for the Social Security Administration to help the agency process backlogged disability and retirement claims (stimulus for Washington bureaucrats).
• $400 million for NASA to compile climate change research (stimulus for government scientists).
• $400 million for the Department of Commerce to fund habitat restoration projects at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (stimulus for fish and birds).
• $400 million for the Social Security Administration to replace 30-year-old computer system for processing retirement and disability claims (stimulus for Microsoft and Dell).
• $1.1 billion to improve speed and capacity of Amtrak and intercity passenger rail (stimulus for trains).
• $700 million to provide coupons to help Americans convert from analog to digital television (stimulus for television).
• $335 million for sexually transmitted disease education and prevention programs at the Centers for Disease Control (stimulus for sex educators).
The Cato Institute ran an ad last week to combat Obama’s statement that "economists from across the political spectrum agree" on the need for the stimulus plan to jumpstart the economy. Cato contacted hundreds of economists, including Nobel laureates and other prominent scholars, and they agreed that “notwithstanding reports that all economists are now Keynesians and that we all support a big increase in the burden of government, we the undersigned do not believe that more government spending is a way to improve economic performance.” Conservatives agree and argue that low tax rates and shrinking the burden of government is the way to boost economic growth.
Remember when candidate Obama said, “I believe in pay-as-you-go”? By that standard, President Obama should veto his own plan.
California Leads Nation Downward
Last Monday, American employers announced 55,000 layoffs. In response, Obama said the government must “act with a sense of urgency and common purpose.” Ironically, Monday was also the day when Obama announced he intends to allow California and 13 other states to set their own auto emissions standards (CAFE). Obama is certainly acting with urgency, but letting California dictate national emission standards fails the common-purpose test.
Lawmakers of all political and ideological stripes realize mandates on businesses are costly. When Congress raised the CAFE standards just 13 months ago, it authorized $25 billion loan to help the auto companies adapt to the new standards. Two of those same auto companies, Chrysler and General Motors, are in danger of filing bankruptcy and were famously bailed out by the Bush administration in December.
Although Obama said his “goal is not to further burden an already struggling industry,” the implications are clear. Subjecting those companies to a complex series of patchwork regulations that they cannot possibly meet won’t create jobs, save the environment or increase American prosperity. In fact, according to the California Air Resources Board, the mandate would add more than $1,050 to the cost of each car.
“Now is the time to make the tough choices,” Obama said in the same speech. Like going against entrenched liberal interest groups?