A Government Accounting Office (GAO) report (pdf) released yesterday at a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing revealed that state governments are not using the so-called stimulus funding to create jobs but to fill in gaps in their state budgets. Far from being a bill that creates permanent jobs in the private sector, the GAO report shows that the funding that can actually be tracked is being used to maintain and expand government bureaucracy.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the ranking Republican on the House Oversight Committee, spoke out at the hearing about the dismal failure of the $1.2 trillion bill (including interest payments) to create jobs and stimulate the economy.
“In selling the stimulus package, the administration promised the American people that legislation would create or save 3.5 million jobs and prevent the U.S. unemployment rate from rising above 8 percent,” Issa said. “I believe that the discredited Keynesian theory behind the effort is misguided, and I am convinced that it won’t work. Unfortunately, recent economic data has validated my opposition.”
The economy has lost over 2 million jobs since the “stimulus” bill was passed. The unemployment rate is currently 9.5 percent and steadily climbing toward double digits. America has not seen unemployment this widespread in over 25 years when America suffered through the aftermath of the same failed economic theory under President Jimmy Carter. Carter’s disastrous approach resulted in double digit unemployment, interest rates and inflation.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell released a statement yesterday about the GAO report and the lack of transparency and accountability for the funds.
“This week’s GAO report on the administration’s economic stimulus plan validates the serious concerns that many of us repeatedly expressed prior to its passage,” McConnell said. “This trillion-dollar spending plan was neither timely, targeted, nor temporary, and funds were extremely difficult to track. This is precisely the result that concerned us when advocates short-changed the debate and overpromised on results, including assurances that unemployment, now approaching 10%, wouldn’t rise above 8 percent. … The GAO report should add to growing public concerns about the administration’s tendency to rush and to overpromise on results when it comes to spending taxpayer dollars and increasing the national debt. But it shouldn’t surprise anyone who followed the debate.”
Vice President Joe Biden over the weekend opined that when crafting the “stimulus” bill, the Obama administration had misread the severity of the economic situation. At a press conference yesterday, Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), the House Republican leader, balked the suggestion that the administration misread anything.
“I found it interesting over the last couple of days to hear…Vice President Biden and the President mention the fact that they didn’t realize how difficult of an economic circumstance we were in,” Boehner said. “Now this is the greatest fabrication I’ve seen since I’ve been in Congress. I’ve sat through those meetings at the White House with the President and the Vice President. Trust me, there’s not one person that sat in those rooms that didn’t know how serious our economic crisis was. We tried to explain to the President that growing government was not going to get America back to work again. And that by allowing small businesses and families to keep more of what they earn — they are the real engine of economic growth in America. If we really are serious about creating jobs, we ought to allow American families and small businesses to keep more of what they earn.”
Senate Passes E-Verify Amendment
Overcoming months of objections by illegal immigration supporters, the Senate passed an amendment offered by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) to the 2010 Homeland Security Appropriations bill yesterday that would make the Department of Homeland Security’s E-Verify program permanent. It would also require federal contractors to use the system. The E-Verify program is currently set to expire on September 30.
“E-Verify is one of our most effective tools for protecting American jobs,” Sessions said. “We’ve seen a series of short-term reauthorizations of the program, but it is essential that we provide employers with the certainty that E-Verify will be available in the future. Our unemployment rate is now at 9.5 percent, the highest in 25 years. E-Verify is a critical tool to ensuring that jobs go to lawful, taxpaying, American workers — which, in the current recession, is more important than ever before. I am pleased that the Senate has agreed that federal contractors benefiting from the stimulus should be required to use the program in the future.”
E-Verify is a free, Internet-based system operated jointly by Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration. The program allows employers to combat identity theft and prevent unemployed Americans from losing jobs to illegal workers. Over 1,000 businesses a week currently sign up for the program.
Should these constructions jobs promised by the “stimulus” bill ever materialize, studies by the Heritage Foundation and the Center for Immigration studies have found that up to 15 percent could go to illegal aliens. In requiring federal contractors to use the system, the Sessions amendment ensures any jobs created with tax dollars will go to legal workers.
“The American people have made it clear that immigration reform should start with better enforcement of the laws already on the books,” Sessions said. “The E-Verify program is popular with employers because it works, and making the program permanent and mandatory for federal contractors would be a big step toward meeting the public’s expectations.”
A final vote on the Homeland Security bill is expected in the Senate later this week.
The ‘Senate Doctors’ Channel
A new Senate online broadcast program debuts today at 4:00 pm Eastern on the worldwide web. “Senate Doctors” is co-hosted by Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), an orthopedic trauma surgeon and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), a family practice physician specializing in obstetrics. The show will focus on, “policy discussions, with constituents sharing their questions, stories, concerns, and comments about health care proposals being debated in Congress.”
The program will broadcast today on the web and every Tuesday and Thursday at 4:00 p.m. Eastern time.