(CNSNews.com) – House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Tuesday that spending $50 billion more in taxpayer money on economic stimulus is an “investment” that will “grow” the economy – but that “withdrawing” that investment would send the economy tumbling down a “rat hole.”
“While Americans are concerned with the deficit – I’m concerned with the deficit, we need to deal with the deficit -- but you can’t deal with the deficit, as Mr. Trumka just said, unless you grow the economy,” Hoyer told CNSNews.com.
The House Democratic leader appeared alongside AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka and Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) at a telephone news conference, held one day after President Obama announced he would like Congress to spend an additional $50 billion on transportation infrastructure improvements.
“If you, in effect, withdraw investment from the economy now, in an effort to – (as) the Republicans say, ‘simply cut spending’ -- if you withdraw resources from the economy it’s going further down, and it’s going to go further down and you're going to be chasing your tail down a rat hole,” Hoyer said. “That is the policy of some, it’s not our policy.”
He added: “We did invest to grow the economy, we have grown it – not nearly enough, as I said, but we need to continue to focus on that –and in the long run – and I don’t mean a decade from now, I mean a year from now when the economy starts growing the way we need it to grow -- then we need to make sure we are also paying attention to the fiscal side of the ledger.”
CNSNews.com asked Hoyer: “Given that unemployment is now basically at 9.6 percent – which is higher than projected by the administration – and that’s after the $787 billion economic stimulus -- why should Americans believe that spending another $50 billion is going to do any good?”
Americans overwhelmingly oppose a second stimulus, according to a new Rasmussen poll released Tuesday. Fifty-five (55) percent of U.S. voters said they oppose a second economic stimulus package, with 31 percent supporting a second stimulus, and 14 percent undecided.
Meanwhile, an August 24 Rasmussen poll found that Americans are deeply divided -- almost equally split -- on whether the first stimulus plan helped the economy: 38 percent said it helped and 36 percent said it hurt the economy.
The top House Democrat, however, defended the original $787 billion economic stimulus (which has grown to $846 billion), citing Congressional Budget Office estimates that it saved three million jobs and kept the U.S. from going into a severe depression, though he acknowledged that the economy is “still struggling” to get to “where it should be.”
“Now having said that, we are up approximately 60 percent in the stock market, whatever index you might be using. We are up in private sector jobs. We have made progress,” Hoyer told CNSNews.com. “Corporate America, has more money – $1.8 trillion – more money in its pocket now than they’ve had in a half a century. So, from a number of perspectives, things are moving in the right direction – (but) not fast enough. We’ve had fits and starts – and frankly we haven’t had any help from the other side, who sees it, frankly to their benefit simply to oppose.”
Hoyer attributed recent negative numbers and slower growth to the fact that thousands of temporary Census workers have come off the rolls, but union leader Trumka attributed any recent slowdown to the states, which are struggling to balance their own budgets, and -- unlike the federal government -- are not allowed to run budget deficits.
“(M)ost of the states are contracting spending – and that’s negating some of the stimulus package,” Trumka said. “I can tell you that without further action to create jobs to invest in the future, we do risk sliding back into a recession, and the people who are on this phone are not going to allow that to happen, regardless of what kind of Beltway politics may be played.”
On Wednesday, Hoyer’s Republican counterpart in the House, Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), called on congressional Democrats and President Obama to roll non-security related government spending back to Fiscal Year 2008 levels and to enact a two-year freeze on what he called “job killing tax hikes on families and small businesses,” set to come into effect at the end of the year, when President Obama lets income tax breaks expire.
“You can't have a strong economy if you're raising taxes on the very people you expect to invest in our economy to begin hiring people again,” Boehner said.