e-News February 6, 20092/6/09
1. The Economic Stimulus Bill Misses the Mark but Grows Larger and Larger
2. House to Finally Consider 2009 Appropriations Bills in Omnibus Appropriations Act?
3. Homeland Security Bill Passed
4. Op-ed on Trade
5. Spread the eNews
The Economic Stimulus Bill Misses the Mark but Grows Larger and Larger
The United States Senate this week began debate on its version of the economic stimulus bill passed by the House last week over the objections of Rep. Frelinghuysen.
“Congress has a responsibility to enact an economic stimulus package that is effective, efficient, and timely,” said Frelinghuysen. “The massive $819 billion stimulus bill approved by the House last week is just the opposite: ineffective, inefficient, and absolutely not an intelligent way to use taxpayers’ dollars. It is filled with extraneous, non-stimulus spending that will not create jobs nor prevent layoffs.
For example, the House-passed version included:
• $79 billion for a State Stabilization Fund to bail out some states that have done little or nothing to control their own spending or debt;
• $6.2 billion for weatherization programs, 31 times the $200 million budgeted last year;
• $6 billion for broadband and wireless services;
• $600 million for new cars for government workers;
• $400 million for global warming research;
• $335 million for sexually transmitted disease education and prevention programs;
• $45 million for fish passage barriers and ATV trails;
• $325 million to allow the Bureau of Land Management to “fix” federal land;
• $9 billion for broadband services (read an interesting New York Timesstory about the shortcomings of this proposal).
In fact, the House bill creates 32 entirely new government programs at a cost of over $136 billion. And the overall size of the stimulus only continues to grow as the Senate adds new funding.” The price-tag of the Senate version currently stands at $920 billion.
The package is the product of Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid Harry Reid, drafted behind closed doors. This bill was considered with little debate, no public hearings or the input of expert witnesses. Despite claims to the contrary, there was no minority consultation before or after its public introduction.
“There is no doubt that we must “jump-start” the economy, but must do so without wasteful spending that will do little or nothing to create jobs. The American people are expecting results.”
That’s why Frelinghuysen supported two Republicans alternative approaches specifically designed to create jobs and prevent layoffs.
He backed an attempt to eliminate over $150 billion in non-emergency domestic spending and redirect some of the funding toward the Army Corps of Engineers’ civil construction projects and highway infrastructure investment that are verifiably ‘shovel ready.’
Frelinghuysen also voted for a bipartisan stimulus bill designed to create jobs. This alternative includes job-creating tax cuts for small businesses, tax relief for working families and those receiving unemployment benefits and a tax deduction for individuals purchasing health coverage.
According to estimates based on modeling created by the White House’s own economic advisors, this plan would create more than six million new jobs in the next two years. When compared to the Pelosi proposal, the Republican plan provides twice the jobs at half the cost. Specifically, the alternative plan would create 185,000 jobs in New Jersey. According to the White House’s own formula, the Pelosi bill will create only 106,000 in our state.
House to Finally Consider 2009 Appropriations Bills in Omnibus Appropriations Act?
While the debate rages over the $1 trillion economic stimulus bill, Congress has yet to complete its budget work for the fiscal year that started last October! At some point in the next few weeks, the House is expected to consider an Omnibus Appropriations Act to fund nine unfinished spending bills. To date, the Majority has refused to make any details available to the public or even to members of the House Appropriations Committee.
Not since 1950 has so little been accomplished through the Appropriations process. Speaker Pelosi and House leadership chose to put off all of the funding until the new President was in office. The House has failed to get anything substantive done, totally forfeiting its Constitutional responsibilities as a separate branch of government.
Funding contained in the unfinished appropriations bills is critical because it provides important resources for first responders, health care, education, infrastructure, environmental protection, energy research, and other urgent national priorities. Funding in this package will likely mirror and simply duplicate the same Pelosi and Reid “spending objectives” we see in the Majority’s so-called “stimulus package”!
House Passes Homeland Security Bill
On Tuesday, the House passed H.R. 549, the National Bombing Prevention Act, with Rep. Frelinghuysen’s support.
The legislation establishes an Office for Bombing Prevention within the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Protective Security Coordination Division. The primary responsibility of this office is to coordinate efforts to deter, detect, prevent, protect against, and respond to terrorist explosive attacks in the United States.
“Sadly, New Jersey residents know the impact of the attacks of September 11, 2001,” said Frelinghuysen. “700 of our fellow residents left for work that morning never to return home. I am committed to improving all aspects of our national security, and this legislation is another step toward that goal.”
Frelinghuysen Op-ed on Trade
On Tuesday, an abbreviated Op-Ed authored by Rep. Frelinghuysen and Paul Boudreau, President of the Morris County Chamber of Commerce, appeared in the Newark Star Ledger.
Free Trade and New Jersey’s Future
Our nation’s financial crisis has hit the state of New Jersey particularly hard. Our families are struggling, businesses are working overtime to survive, and job creators have been stifled. We must do what we can to revitalize all aspects of our economy and leverage every opportunity for growth. One strategy for financial recovery is opening new markets for American products.
International trade agreements are a concrete step we can take to strengthen our economy and promote job opportunities. These agreements take time to negotiate, but Congress can act now by passing the pending Colombia Free Trade Agreement. The agreement has received broad support, and provisions have been included for strong labor, rule-of-law, and environmental protections.
Trade agreements mean jobs and new markets for American goods and services. This is especially true places like northern New Jersey, home to some of our country’s top businesses. As a result, our region is dependent on international trade for growth and job creation: something our economy desperately needs right now. New Jersey provides pharmaceutical, telecommunication, agricultural, and other products to every corner of our planet. We must focus on making those countries more welcoming of our goods.
New Jersey is one of the top 10 exporters in the nation. Our state has increased its exports 81 percent since 2003 with $30 billion in products sold overseas last year. In 2007, New Jersey sent $131.5 million worth of goods to Colombia alone. New Jersey’s exporters of pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, fertilizers and agro-chemicals will benefit from eliminating tariffs as will America’s soybeans, corn and fruit producers.
Colombia represents a real opportunity to increase our nation’s competitiveness by lowering barriers to American exports and strengthening a key alliance. In fact, for the last 17 years nearly all of Colombia’s exports have entered the U.S. duty free while American products are charged duties and tariffs! The Colombia Free Trade Agreement would eliminate virtually all duties on American exports to Colombia helping our economy!
The United States is the world’s leader in exports- sending $1.6 trillion in goods overseas last year along. International trade accounted for 25 percent of our economic growth last year. In order to maintain our position as the global leader in trade, our policies must reflect the way global economies operate. We must avoid a push toward isolationist trade policies.
International trade competitors, such as the European Union and Canada, are working to open markets to their products. China is also moving forward on international trade having already finalized agreements with over thirty nations. Free trade agreements are necessary to keep the American economy completive with others across the world.
In a recent editorial, The New York Times said of the Colombia Free Trade agreement, “The trade pact would be good for America’s economy and workers. Rejecting it would send a dismal message to allies the world over that the United States is an unreliable partner.”
In addition to being good for the American economy, the trade agreement is important to Colombia’s success in South America. Colombia is one of our strongest allies in the region and is a key player in the fight against narcotics trafficking and terrorism.
Not long ago, Colombia faced national collapse, but the country has seen a significant turnaround in recent years. Violent crime, terrorism, and poverty are all down considerably. In order to continue that remarkable progress, the United States and Colombia must work together.
Free trade agreements, like the pending Colombia pact, are important to our state, regional, and national success. The United States has a long history of supporting pro-growth trade policies, and we should insist on the same from our trading partners. That is what we are doing by supporting the Colombia Free Trade Agreement. The agreement will open new markets and create real opportunities for New Jersey.
Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen is serving his seventh term representing New Jersey’s 11th District in the United States House of Representatives. He is a member of the House Appropriations Committee.
Paul Boudreau is the President of the Morris County Chamber of Commerce. He has over twenty years of experience as a government and corporate affairs executive, most recently as Vice President of State and Corporate Relations for Honeywell.
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