House's Economic Recovery Bill Needs Recovery

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by JimofPennsylvan, Jan 28, 2009.

  1. JimofPennsylvan

    JimofPennsylvan VIP Member

    Jun 6, 2007
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    Overall the House Economic Stimulus Bill is an extreme disgrace. If the House of Representative passes this bill (H.R. 1 IH) in its present form it will be demonstrating that it is a severely dysfunctional governing body.

    The biggest shock and surprise about the bill is how much social spending that doesn’t have to do with the country’s economic recession or its economic recovery is in the bill. It is indescribably irresponsible, sneaky and underhanded what the Democrat leadership has done with its loading of this recession-unrelated social spending in the bill. The U.S. economy is going to need every dollar of economy rebuilding spending that can be obtained for it. The bill’s spending being referred to includes: $3.2 billion for Head Start and like programs (Title IX Subtitle B), $13 billion for Education for the Disadvantaged Children program (Title IX Subtitle C), $13.6 billion for Individuals with Disabilities Education Act programs (Title IX Subtitle C), $16 billion for Higher Education Assistance Spending (Title IX Subtitle C) and $15 billion for Education Incentive Programs For States (Title XII Sec. 13001(c)). What is also telling here is that these expenditures are not consistent with the purposes of the bill as stated in the language of the bill if read in an ordinary manner. It very well may be the right thing for the country to do this social spending but it should be done in the overall budget or ordinary legislative process where comprehensive solutions can be put in place for the problems this spending is trying to address and, most importantly, spending cuts/revenue raising can be put into effect to offset this increased spending like responsible government action calls for. This bill with the above provisions is going to haunt members of the House when they run for reelection in two years, no way by then will the economy be fully recovered and their opponents will have a field day using this bill in their media campaign.

    The next major problem with this bill deals with the “Use It Or Lose It Requirements” of Section 1104. This provision mandates overall a too speedily spending of the grant money. This bill needs to generate a lot of big projects which produce long-term economic benefits on the economy – otherwise Congress has failed, it needs to fund some projects that today aren’t even in the planning stage for the bill to reach its potential. This section’s requirement on states to enter into contracts for fifty percent of the grant money in 12 months is going to obstruct the bill’s goals. It is mandating the spending of too much money too quickly. This provision should be changed to mandate twenty-five percent of grant monies be in binding commitments by the end of the first year and another twenty-five percent be in binding commitment by the end of the second year. With respect to the balance amount of fifty percent, grantees have three years to put this in binding commitments or receive a waiver from the respective Secretary for good cause (like were in litigation to acquire needed land for a big project or in litigation fighting community opposition to a big project). From a realistic standpoint the lion’s share of the grant money will be in binding commitment within two years, the nation’s Governors are chomping at the bit to get this bill’s money.

    A related shortcoming of the bill involves Sec 1103 with the competitive grant requirements, it is too short (90 days for all the money) the country will end up with a lot of spending that isn’t the best spending. This section should be revised to provide forty-percent of competitive grant monies be distributed within 90 days, an additional thirty-percent be distributed within 180 days and the remaining thirty percent be distributed within 270 days.

    On the Rural Housing initiative of Title II in the bill there is a provision which could be interpreted as authorizing the spending of a half a billion dollars for loan modifications. This is a large amount of money, too large to allow such a broad authority for its spending and so should be stricken in so far as loan modification authorization goes. By all means Congress should come up with a loan modification program (in a separate bill) but it should be one where no monetary windfall comes to a lender or burrower because having such a windfall would not be fair to U.S. taxpayers.

    On the Digital-to-Analog converter box program with the $ 650 million authorized in the bill (Title III Subtitle A), if an often seen government track record occurs a large portion of this money will be squandered away with expenditures on advertising, outreach programs and the like and not appropriate amounts will be spent on helping Americans (in this case getting them the coupon to buy the converter box). This provision should be amended to limit advertising, outreach programs and the like to $ 40 million and mandate the balance has to be spent on coupons for Americans and the program ends on December 31, 2009 and any money remaining goes back into the U.S. Treasury’s general fund.

    In Title III Subtitle B section of the bill, it is authorized essentially to give law enforcement across the nation $4 billion dollars, this isn’t going to produce a long-term economic benefit for America. This is an economic recovery bill for crying out loud. The bill should be amended to reduce this authorization to $ 1 billion dollars and mandate it only be used on infrastructure (building or equipment) spending.

    This bill authorizes $ 6.2 billion be spent for weatherization of America’s homes (Title 5), this is way overboard this will be to an immensely large degree a waste of money. The American people have been the recipient of good weatherization programs for the last thirty years, the good to have been achieved here has largely been achieved. The large bulk of this money can be spent more wisely for the American people, that is, in a manner that creates permanent jobs. This weatherization expenditure should be reduced to $1.5 billion.

    This bill authorizes $ 6 billion be spent on increasing energy efficiency in Federal Buildings (Title Six), this will largely turn out to be a waste of money. Members of Congress should ask themselves if they were stockholders of a company what type of standards would they expect the management of the company to be operating by; I would submit that they would expect that at minimum any type of energy savings project have a cost-benefit ratio where the benefit in energy savings by the work pay for the work in no longer than ten years. If one applies this reasonable standard to this initiative, one would find there will be a large scale failure to reach this standard. This bill should be amended to reduce this standard to $3 billion with some type of standard requirement on the bulk of this expenditure – energy audits for a building can be done very quickly like a day quickly – maybe push this spending a little toward heating/air conditioning/hot water equipment upgrades where long-term economic savings can be generated.

    This bill authorizes the expenditure of “only” $426 million by the Small Business Administration for loans to help small businesses. Congress is blowing it here so big its failure is off the charts – they are displaying stupidity here in the extreme. This SBA is the vehicle by which there is real hope to not only rebuild the nation’s economy to where it was two or three years ago but rather to build it to the heights it can and should be so that all Americans can experience the American dream where they have a prosperous life. Most new jobs in America for ten plus years have been created by small businesses; America needs a lot of good paying jobs and members of Congress small businesses offer the only road to the nation’s destination here. The bill’s SBA loan authorization should be increased to $ 1 billion and a grant program of a billion dollars should be added to this section of the bill and in this bill the Secretary of the Treasury should be given $ 4 billion dollars to replenish these programs over the next two years if these programs become depleted as long as the Secretary certifies, after a thorough check, that there is no widespread occurrences of monies being loaned or grants being extended to business initiatives that are not responsible business initiatives.

    The sunset provision of 90 days in this section of the bill is a bad idea. Congress should be ready to help all good business initiatives that would qualify as small business initiatives with an outstanding financial assistance program for the next two years, this is required for Congress to classify as being really committed to lifting the country out of its recession. The bill should be amended to allow the SBA two years to spend this money with the balance of the monies available to the SBA under this program reduced by 12.5 % every 90 days from its original amount if not otherwise spent by the SBA to incentivize the SBA.

    This bill needs changes on its Information Technology initiative for putting the American peoples’ medical records in electronic form to improve care and lower cost (Title IX Subtitle B). It is a great initiative the bill is advancing here but the bill needs to provide protections so the bulk of the monies spent by the bill are spent on actual technology and not squandered away. The bill should mandate that sixty percent of the appropriated funds be spent on actual IT hardware and software.

    This bill with its expenditure of $545 million on chronic disease, health promotion and genomics programs, (Title IX, Subtitle B), is a waste of money. The American people already are recipients of a lot of these types of programs. This expenditure is a big amount and it is not an economy building expenditure and there is much wiser uses for this money, this expenditure should be dropped.

    This bill authorizes the expenditure of $16 billion for higher education assistance spending (Title IX, Subtitle C). The Congress should spend some money in this bill on this area but it should only be assistance directed to those Americans that are victims of the recession, that is, that have suffered job loss or had their earned income significantly reduced by the recession. One major problem with this $16 billion expenditure is that from a practical standpoint this expenditure will be a permanent expenditure, politically to roll back this increase for Pell grants and the like for 2011 and beyond will be not possible, and Congress should not be growing the Federal Budget like this in this bill, it violates the bill’s purpose. As described Congress should authorize a program to help non-wealthy families hurt by the recession send their children to college (a separate one shot program) and fund it with $3 or $4 billion dollars.


    On the School Modernization, Renovation and Repair initiative in the bill (Title IX Subtitle C), don’t preclude school districts from using those grant funds to build an entire new school – let school districts best determine their needs and how to fulfill them. Just mandate the overall spending time table of the grant monies, that being, 25 % by the end of the first year, 25% by the end of the second year and the remaining 50% by the end of the third year.

    On “Transportation Infrastructure” spending authorized by the bill, the bill needs work (Title XII). This bill is going to cost $825 billion dollars, future generations of Americans are going to be stuck paying this bill. We better leave them something to show for it. For the Highway Infrastructure spending Congress should mandate that one-third of the spending must go to new roads or new interchanges and for the Transit Infrastructure spending one-third must go to new fixed guideway transit systems. Not only will this show an expansion of our nation’s transportation system which is important but it will spur economic development in those communities receiving such transportation systems thus producing significant number of permanent jobs. To this end, the bill should increase Highway Infrastructure spending to $45 billion and on the transit spending combine all the authorized spending in the bill into just one transit infrastructure spending program and increase it to $25 billion. Get rid of the time restrictions in this section, requiring fifty percent of grant monies to be obligated within six months undermines the goal of having some increase in the capacity of America’s transportation system result from this bill.

    On the $ 2.5 billion of “elderly, disabled and section 8 assisted housing energy retrofit” spending authorized by the bill (Title Twelve) mandate the following. Mandate that heating, cooling and water heating systems purchased with the authorized monies from this bill have an Energy Star Rating so the American people don’t hear stories in the media where the owners of these properties replaced the described equipment and it was of inferior quality and now the elderly, disabled or section 8 resident is stuck in a bad situation.

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