U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today released the following statement following his ‘no’ vote on the stimulus package passed by the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday:
“While it is easy to understand the appeal of Congress and the President passing out over $150 Billion to the American people, our economy needs more than another short-term, quick fix approach that could come at the expense of more important long-term, structural, public policy changes.
“A stimulus to head off a recession can be a good idea, but economists are split on whether or not now is one of those times, and even if it is, the stimulus must be properly targeted to get the money in the hands of people who will spend it immediately. Unfortunately, the House did not include the two quickest and best-targeted levers for stimulus: extended unemployment benefits and temporary food stamp increases.
“I am also concerned with the possibility that this legislation will become loaded with extraneous provisions in the Senate that do not have an immediate stimulus effect.
“The $150 billion price tag of this legislation will just add to our current fiscal problems, including our mountainous $9 trillion debt and the impending retirement of our nation’s baby boomers. Time and again, we’ve used a philosophy similar to the one pushing this stimulus package—spending money now will help us now, so let’s do it and not worry about the future.
“Instead, to compete in new global market place, we must make several long term changes, including a more affordable health care system; a far better and more adaptable education and skills training policy; greater investment in innovation; a better trade policy that recognizes the importance of worker’s rights and environmental protections; and significant improvements to the infrastructure of our country—roads, bridges, energy sources, and access to broadband to name just a few.
“The federal government must also be fiscally sound and have the money necessary to make these long term changes. That means we need to confront the ballooning costs of entitlement programs, get a tax code that people can understand, reduce health care inflation, and eventually come up with a foreign policy that gets us out of our current situation where we have to have a defense budget roughly equal to that of every other country in the world combined.
“None of this gets any easier if we dig our financial hole another $150 billion deeper for a short-term “fix” for our economic woes that is not well-targeted or well-timed.”