Alaskan Congressman Don Young voted no today on the Democrats’ spending bill, H.R. 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. This bill provides only $1.10 per day in relief to workers, not even enough for a ½ a gallon of gas, while saddling every American family with $9,400 in added debt to be paid by our children and grandchildren.
Currently only $47 billion or 5.9% of the total package is devoted to transportation infrastructure and only $27.5 billion or 3.4% for highway construction Despite calls from both sides of the aisle to increase transportation and infrastructure funding, House and Senate leadership actually cut highway and transit funding by $3.135 billion. As a result, Alaska is going to receive $70.75 million less in transportation funds.
“This bill was not a stimulus bill, it was a vehicle for pet projects, and that’s wrong,” said Rep. Young. “It was done by cover of night, without ANY input from the other side of the aisle, and without full disclosure to the American people! Last week we all voted on a resolution to make the bill available for 48 hours online so that the people could have a look; that never happened! Despite a House vote of 403-0 that Members of Congress and the public should have 48 hours for review, the Majority’s 1,073-page bill was not made available until 11:00 p.m., less than 12 hours before floor consideration. That is no way to legislate and frankly, no way to run a government. Even the most efficient reader would have a hard time reading all of that in less than 12 hours.
“I have great respect for our new President, but he’s let the Democratic leadership have the run of this bill, and they have mishandled it. I spoke with the President briefly, and I spoke with his staff, and told them repeatedly that if they wanted to make a good bill, and if they wanted my vote, then this bill would have to devote a much bigger piece of the pie to transportation and infrastructure, and that did not happen. Those are the projects that are good for this country, and that put people to work. Instead the money that’s in this bill that’s supposed to stimulate OUR economy, is in essence being sent overseas.
“We have no incentives to produce anymore; we buy everything from other countries. So for example when you want to make things ‘energy efficient’ and need to buy solar panels, you’re buying them most likely from Asia, which leads the industry in production. How does that help us? Once again, we’ve rushed a bill through without following the proper process and while I absolutely hope that there is success, more likely than not, I think we are going to be looking back six months from now wondering where we went wrong and what we could have done differently.”
Some of the more “questionable” provisions in the bill:
· $2 billion for the Neighborhood Stabilization Fund, providing funds to organizations such as ACORN, which has been accused of practicing unlawful voter registration in recent elections
· $1 billion for a Prevention and Wellness Fund, which can be used for sexually transmitted disease (STD) education and prevention programs at the CDC
· Agency “Slush Funds” (Transfer Authority) – This provision recreates the “slush fund” that was unanimously rejected by both the House and Senate. This “slush fund” allows agency heads to move money around between programs as they see fit without any real oversight by Congress or the public.
· In this legislation, a total of 104 Federal government programs are being created or expanded; this includes the creation of 31 new programs. The total cost of this growth of government is $190 billion, which is 61% of the total appropriations spending.
· Provides $1.1 billion to conduct “comparative effectiveness research” to evaluate the effectiveness of different preventative healthcare interventions. This money for comparative effectiveness research could eventually be used to sanction government rationing of health care goods and services, consistent with the draft House Appropriations Committee report that said that “more expensive [treatments] will no longer be prescribed” as a result of such research.