Inhofe Calls Stimulus Compromise a “$1.2 trillion mistake”

 

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) spoke on the Senate floor and outlined his opposition to the so-called ‘compromise’ legislation on the stimulus bill.  Senator Inhofe announced his plans to vote against ending debate and proceeding to a final vote without further consideration of amendments on the legislation. 

“Tonight the Senate will vote on whether to shut off debate on what conservative economist Martin Feldstein has called an ‘$800 billion mistake’,” Senator Inhofe said.  “He is not the only one that is disappointed that in the U.S. Senate, Democrats have spent this past week working to make this a nearly $900 billion mistake.  In fact, the Congressional Budget Office reported during the House consideration of its $820 billion version this spending bill, that the cost of servicing the debt on all the new debt created by this bill would cost roughly $347 billion over 10 years, which means at $820 billion, the real cost of this so called stimulus spending bill will incur $1.2 trillion in new government debt.  In other words, to again borrow from Dr. Feldstein, we will be voting on a $1.2 trillion mistake. 

“As we are debating this multi-billion dollar piece of legislation, I believe some of my Republican colleagues are too gracious in trying to lay collective blame for the $1 trillion mistake on both Republicans and Democrats when it’s not true. As the House considered this spending bill, in a vote of 244-188, not a single Republican voted in favor of the $820 billion spending bill. Only by Republicans sticking 100% together in the Senate can we stop this $1.2 trillion mistake.  However, should it pass this week, no one should be fooled to think it was done in a bipartisan way.  Let me tell the American people that a vote tonight on a proposal supported by all the Democrats and 3 Republicans is not a bipartisan proposal nor is it any kind of compromise.   

“Time after time Republicans have offered reasonable alternatives, real stimulus, real job creation, and real wealth creation.  Time after time, the Democrats have failed those alternatives.  Senate Democrats reported a bill to the Senate floor already over $60 billion more expensive than the bill which passed the House of Representatives with absolutely no Republican support and only supported allowing the bill to grow once it got to the Senate floor.   

“Now we are supposed to have the American people believe that we have found fiscal discipline in supporting a $780 billion bill with extras bringing the cost of the bill with interest to $1.2 trillion.  This in no way is a bipartisan compromise.  The American people already see it for what it is – a mistake, a $1.2 trillion mistake entirely brought to us by the Democratic majority.”   

Senator Inhofe’s Full Remarks as prepared for delivery: 

Mr. President, tonight the Senate will vote on whether to shut off debate on what conservative economist Martin Feldstein has called an “$800 billion mistake.”  He is not the only one that is disappointed that in the U.S. Senate, Democrats have spent this past week working to make this a nearly $900 billion mistake.  In fact, the Congressional Budget Office reported during the House consideration of its $820 billion version this spending bill, that the cost of servicing the debt on all the new debt created by this bill would cost roughly $347 billion over 10 years, which means at $820 billion, the real cost of this so called stimulus spending bill will incur $1.2 trillion in new government debt.  In other words, to again borrow from Dr. Feldstein, we will be voting on a $1.2 trillion mistake.    

The American people are tired of these expensive mistakes, but this would not be the first one.    

The American people were opposed to the $700 billion mistake made only 4 months ago.  This Senate voted 74-25 for the proposal to empower one unelected bureaucrat to buy billions worth of troubled assets.  Of course then the plan changed.  The plan morphed from buying troubled assets to buying stakes in major banks.  

Finally, after all this bailout mania finally extended to the auto industry, Congress had the opportunity to redeem itself on the second half of that $700 billion mistake.   In that vote 33 Republicans and only 9 Democrats voted disapproving the release of the second $350 billion.  19 Republicans and three Democrats who voted for the initial $700 billion bailout changed their vote to disapprove of accessing the remaining $350 billion. To me, and I believe to the American people, that was a promising new start.   

As we are debating this multi-billion dollar piece of legislation, I believe some of my Republican colleagues are too gracious in trying to lay collective blame for the $1 trillion mistake on both Republicans and Democrats when it’s not true. 

As the House considered this spending bill, in a vote of 244-188, not a single Republican voted in favor of the $820 billion spending bill.   

Only by Republicans sticking 100% together in the Senate can we stop this $1.2 trillion mistake.  However, should it pass this week, no one should be fooled to think it was done in a bipartisan way.    

Now at the end of the Senate’s consideration of HR 1, we are voting tonight to end debate on what is being called a compromise proposal.  It is being called a bipartisan proposal.  Let me tell the American people that a vote tonight on a proposal supported by all the Democrats and 3 Republicans is not a bipartisan proposal nor is it any kind of compromise.   

In fact, the proposal we are now considering really just makes this past week in the Senate a waste of all our time.  Why do I say that?  Let’s look at the numbers.  The House passed an $820 billion bill.  Here in the Senate we started with nearly $885 billion.  Although the “compromise” proposal reportedly only costs $780 billion, that figure doesn’t include the cost of amendments the Senate considered, which brings the price tag to around $827 billion – a bill about $7 billion higher than the House and a bill with interest amounts to $1.2 trillion.  We are nearly exactly back to where we started.   

And is this bill any better after a week of Senate consideration?  No.  Why do I say that?  Let’s look at only some of what we considered.   

I offered an amendment to redirect over $5 billion from programs such as television coupons, trail improvements, and renovations to federal government buildings in Washington, D.C. to military spending and procurement.  According to economic reports by Standard and Poor’s, defense spending along with infrastructure investment and tax cuts has a greater stimulative impact on the economy than anything else the government can do.  How did my amendment fair?  37 Republicans and Senator Lieberman voted in favor and 56 Democrats opposed it. 

Infrastructure investment is a proven stimulus.  And equally importantly, when it is all over, we have something for our money that will continue to benefit the nation’s economy.   The Department of Transportation recently estimated that for every $1 billion invested in highways and bridges, 27,800 jobs are created.  The latest jobless numbers show that 899,000 construction workers have lost their jobs over the last 27 months.   According to the Association of General Contractors, every $1 billion spent on infrastructure adds $3.4 billion to GDP.  The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials found $64 billion worth of projects that are shovel ready.  The 4 million jobs created by this level of investment would be distributed across the nation.   

I had a bipartisan amendment to increase needed infrastructure funding fully paid for within the bill.  It would have redirected from frivolous spending in this bill, funding for highways, drinking water and clean water revolving loan funds.  The Democratic floor manager objected to it even being brought up. 

What other good ideas were offered? 

Republicans offered numerous complete substitutes for this spending bill.  Senator McCain offered a substitute with provisions reducing the payroll tax, lowering marginal rates, lowering corporate rates, and offering accelerated depreciation for small business.  It included funding for transportation infrastructure and national defense, and offered housing assistance.  It failed on a complete party line vote: 40 Republicans for, 57 Democrats against. 

A bipartisan amendment was offered to allow repatriation of foreign earnings at a reduced tax rate.  The last time we did this, the result was $350 billion to $360 billion in repatriated profits back to the U.S.  The U.S. Treasury collected $18 billion in revenue it would not have otherwise collected.   This bipartisan amendment would have functioned in the same way and it was defeated in nearly a party line vote. 

Senator DeMint offered a substitute with provisions reduce corporate taxes, individual marginal rates, repeal the AMT, reduce capital gains and estate taxes, and increase the child tax credit.  The result of that amendment was 36 Republicans supporting it and 57 Democrats opposing it.   

Senator Thune offered a substitute to reduce marginal rates, offer AMT relief, offer bonus depreciation and small business tax relief, deductions for health coverage, and homebuyer assistance.  The result of that amendment was 37 Republicans supporting it and 57 Democrats opposing it.   

Time after time Republicans have offered reasonable alternatives, real stimulus, real job creation, and real wealth creation.  Time after time, the Democrats have failed those alternatives.  Senate Democrats reported a bill to the Senate floor already over $60 billion more expensive than the bill which passed the House of Representatives with absolutely no Republican support and only supported allowing the bill to grow once it got to the Senate floor.   

Now we are supposed to have the American people believe that we have found fiscal discipline in supporting a $780 billion bill with extras bringing the cost of the bill with interest to $1.2 trillion.  This in no way is a bipartisan compromise.  The American people already see it for what it is – a mistake, a $1.2 trillion mistake entirely brought to us by the Democratic majority.  

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