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Opening Statement and 10 Questions for H.R. 1 Conference Committee

February 11, 2009


Mr. Chairman, while it is clear we must act, we must ensure theaction we take actually stimulates the economy and lays the foundationfor real, sustained job creation in the private sector.  Much of thenegotiations and deals I have heard and read about, which took placebehind closed doors and before this conference even convened, seem toresult in this legislation having less of a benefit for Americanfamilies now, when they need it the most. 

Frankly, because this process has been so rushed, we are literallyflying blind.  CBO has told us that both the House and Senate passedversions would cost Americans their jobs and be a negative drag on oureconomy over the next 10 years.  Let me be clear: CBO says the burdencreated by the additional debt payments and government crowd out of theprivate market contained in this stimulus bill will cost Americanstheir jobs in 2019. 

While we know the negative impact in 2019, we have no data on theimpact – positive or negative – the “stimulus” package will have on oureconomy just three years from now. Before we jump into this trilliondollar plane we know crashes in 2019, we should know if it will crashsooner.

I believe this conference, the Members of the House and Senate andthe American people deserve to know the full impact of this legislationbefore we vote on it.  To that end, I sincerely hope the House willhonor the vote we took yesterday giving Members — and all Americans –48 hours to digest the conference report and the deal you have struck. 

Let me reiterate that I and every Republican in the House standready to act.  As you well know, we produced an alternative to both theSenate and House versions that would create twice the jobs at half thecost based on the data and methodology of the Chair of the President’sCouncil of Economic Advisors.

As we move forward with this conference, it is my sincere wish thatwe do so publicly and that we work in a bipartisan fashion to retainthose provisions that will have an immediate and positive impact on oureconomy and ability to create and save jobs in this country.  To thatend, I have 10 questions I think need to be answered:

1) There are several reports in press and even pronouncements by theSenate Majority Leader and other Senators that indicate there is a dealon stimulus.  Can we see a copy? 

2) How were some of the important differences between the House and Senate resolved with regard to:

• The Homebuyer Tax Credit
• COBRA subsidies
• Comparativeness Effectiveness Research
• Buy America
• AMT patch
• NOL carryback
• 3% government contract witholding

3) The President on Monday in Elkhart, IN, said that tax cuts forworking families are the most effective stimulus, but press reportsindicate the deal cuts billions from the Making Work Pay Credit.  Why?

4) Yesterday, the House unanimously passed a motion to instructconferees that the bill text be made publically available on theinternet for 48 hours before a vote.  Will you commit to ensuring thisis adhered to by declining to sign a conference report until the 48hours have elapsed?

5) President Obama asked for a package that contained 40% in taxcuts.  What percent of the spending in this bill takes the form of taxcuts? How much of those “tax cuts” are really outlays – transfers topeople who pay no taxes whatsoever, either payroll or income taxes?

6) Similarly, if this agreement passes, how many individuals willreceive transfers in excess of all taxes paid, including income andpayroll taxes?

7) How much of the cost of this bill is spending in 2009 and 2010, when our economy and American families really need it?

8) Larry Summers, the President’s Director of National EconomicCouncil, has argued that the stimulus should be “timely, temporary, andtargeted.”  Does this bill contain any permanent increases in spendingin this bill or any other permanent provisions that do not comport withthe “temporary” standard?

9) As I mentioned above, both the Congressional Budget Office andthe Joint Committee on Taxation have estimated that the stimulus billspassed by the House and Senate will, at some point in the coming decadeact as a drag on economic growth and employment compared to thebaseline estimate of no stimulus at all.  Just so everyone understandswhat this means: according to CBO and JCT in 10 years the economy willbe worse off with fewer jobs, less investment, and more unemployment bypassing this bill than if we do absolutely nothing.  Do we haveyear-to-year data from CBO and JCT to know whether the year-by-yearimpact on our economy and if any long- and mid-term drain on theeconomy is worth the short-term gain?

10) Mr. Chairman, the Colombia free trade agreement would provide ahuge economic boost for American exporters, like Caterpillar, who thePresident is visiting tomorrow, and require absolutely no newgovernment spending. Why isn’t the FTA in this bill?