Do No Harm
House Chamber, Washington, D.C.
February 12, 2009
I rise again to urge the majority to consider very carefully the damage they are doing to our nation’s economy by passing this unprecedented spending measure.
There is still time to heed the warnings from economists across the nation that this bill will do long-term damage to the growth of our nation’s economy for many years to come.
This is not mere economic theory: it is the consistent effect every time and everywhere that governments have tried to spend their way to prosperity.
History is shouting its warning at us: never has a nation spent its way to prosperity – although many nations have spent their way to ruin and collapse.
If government bailouts and handouts and loan guarantees actually worked, we should today be enjoying a period of unprecedented economic expansion.
After all, we began down this road more than a year ago with the failed Bush stimulus plan and have now squandered or placed at risk some $9.7 trillion – enough to buy up 90 percent of all the mortgages in America.
We’ve been told not to "come to the table with the same tired arguments and worn ideas that helped to create this crisis," – and yet that’s exactly what this administration and this Congress are doing. This is exactly the same worn and tired policy that the Bush administration pursued for a year to no avail – and we’re even hearing the same worn and tired rhetoric to justify it.
Different singer. Same tired and worn out song.
At best they are trading a fleeting economic surge for a sustained, chronic and long term reduction in economic growth.
There’s a simple reason for that: the $800 billion that they must borrow to finance this plan comes from the same capital pool that would otherwise have been available to loan to employers seeking to add jobs, to homebuyers seeking to buy homes and to consumers seeking to buy consumer goods.
They are literally taking $800 billion from loans that could have been made to expand the economy and shifting it to loans that are largely merely expanding government.
And that $800 billion – plus interest – will have to be repaid from the future earnings of American families – directly sapping the future economic growth of this nation. On average, this single bill will reduce the disposable income of a taxpaying family by more than $7,000.
Instead, why don’t we increase the disposable income of that taxpaying family by reducing their tax burden NOW.
That’s what the Republican alternative proposes – a plan economists say will produce twice the jobs as the President’s plan at only half the cost.
And to those who doubt that, listen to the President’s own numbers.
He has repeatedly promised that the $800 billion in this bill will create or save as many as four million jobs. That comes to $200,000 per job. We could save half of what he has proposed spending and still be able to send $100,000 checks to each of those four million lucky families. And that’s by the President’s own numbers.
Nobody here suggests the government should do nothing in the face of this recession. But this plan is actually worse than doing nothing, because it robs us of our economic future.
Perhaps we need to add the Hippocratic Oath to the oaths of office for the President and Congress: “First, do no harm.”