WASHINGTON - Georgia U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland voted against the $825 billion stimulus package, which passed the Democratic House 244-188 with no Republican votes.
"There is wide bipartisan agreement that we need a job-creating stimulus package but there's equally wide disagreement about how best to do that," Westmoreland said, adding that Democrats blocked out Republican input. "I want to see taxpayers keep more of their own money, I want to see the spending more focused on building things such as roads and bridges, and I want to see the price tag brought down dramatically because I don't see how we can pay this back."
Westmoreland said the Democratic leadership is using this bill as a vehicle to fulfill all of their bottled-up wishes from the past four decades.
"This legislation expends millions and more often than not billions on programs that won't create one job," Westmoreland said. "If this bill creates all the jobs that its authors promise - 3 to 4 million -- the cost comes out to about $275,000 per job. In Georgia, we'd consider that inefficient. Projects include $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts, $150 million for the Smithsonian museums, $16 billion for Pell grants. Nearly 10 percent of the bill - a stunning $89 billion -- gives more money to Medicaid. All of those might be great projects that might enjoy strong support from Americans and members of Congress, but they DO NOT create jobs and that's supposed to be the focus here.
"I believe that the bill needs to put more focus on transportation infrastructure. First, that creates real jobs in our ailing construction industry. Second, transportation ranks near the top of our needs in Georgia, particularly in the 3rd Congressional District in places such as Henry, Fayette, Coweta and Douglas counties. But transportation funding accounts for only 5 percent of this bill. I think that's ridiculous."
Westmoreland fears that many supporters of the bill are ignoring the implications of adding another $825 billion to the debt when we're already running a trillion dollar deficit.
"Where is all this money going to come from?" Westmoreland asked. "We were living on borrowed money even during the high times. We've maxed out the credit card and our debt load is going to scare off our creditors. President Obama has vowed that he's not going to put off the tough decisions, but spending like this today is going to make situation tomorrow even worse. Members of the House who vote yes today aren't just costing taxpayers the price tag on the bill. It will cost $247 billion over the next 10 years to pay the interest on this deficit spending - that's money wasted that won't pay for future students' Pell grants or poor families' Medicaid bills."