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Camp Opening Statement: Markup of H.R. 598 – Economic Stimulus Bill

January 22, 2009

JANUARY 22, 2009

Mr. Chairman,

Families all across this nation are rightly worried about what tomorrow will bring.  Our economy is in a recession; the credit markets remain seized up; and additional job losses are predicted for the near future and for some time to come if we do not act.

I firmly believe the most important elements of any economic stimulus bill fall within the jurisdiction and responsibility of this committee.  To that end, I am grateful the Speaker has allowed us this markup.  But as you know Mr. Chairman, a markup is no substitute for a hearing and certainly no substitute for a thoughtful policy debate.

I understand the Speaker has put enormous pressure on the varying committees of jurisdiction to bring her bill to the floor as quickly as possible.  However, the President has directly challenged us “to end the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.”  You have echoed that call for bipartisanship on this Committee. 

We stand ready to meet that challenge from President Obama, and we stand ready to work with you to protect the American taxpayer and to protect and secure the jobs of hardworking Americans.  I hope this markup shows the American people that we can work across the aisle and in the best interest of the people we represent.

We have several amendments we will offer today.  They are focused on three simple goals: helping families make ends meet; providing more relief to people actually paying taxes; and, laying the foundation for real, private sector job creation.

Given the events of the past few weeks—not the least of which are the release of the bill at 5 p.m. on a Friday of a holiday weekend with no input from the Minority—we are not optimistic about our Amendments being thoughtfully considered let alone accepted.  To that end, we will not be offering a substitute.  Instead, we will take our proposals directly to the President who has agreed to sit down with us and to hear our case.

Mr. Chairman, the American people know we cannot spend our way to prosperity.  They know adding a trillion dollars to the deficit for new spending on old government programs will not create jobs.  They know small businesses create jobs, not the federal government.  And, they know families can better manage their budgets than the federal government.

So, as we go through this markup, those are the issues we will be raising.  It is on behalf of the American taxpayer and their families, and American workers, that we will offer ideas to improve upon a bill that, to date, we have had no input on.

There are areas we can agree on; some areas we disagree; and, frankly, some areas we just don’t know enough about.  Like how many jobs will be created?  I have heard some estimates in the range of 3 million created or saved.  But Kent Conrad, the Democrat Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, says that number is likely to be half that. 

The American people deserve to know what they are getting for their nearly $1 trillion.  The manner in which this bill has come forward is unfortunately and eerily similar to how we dealt with the TARP bill; a $700 billion program that many of us realize was poorly designed and poorly executed.  That is a mistake I had hope we would never repeat, let alone so soon.

 With that Mr. Chairman, I look forward to learning more about this bill, the jobs you expect it to create and the savings it contains for actual taxpayers and their families.  And, I look forward to answering the President’s call to rise above party lines and meet the economic challenge our nation is facing.

With that, I yield back my time.