Who exactly, besides the government, has benefitted from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA)? Since the passage of this massive spending bill, the economy has lost 1.6 million jobs. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the unemployment rate for May rose to 9.4% – the highest rate in 25 years
Last week, President Obama embarked on a new effort to prove that his stimulus plan was worth the $787 billion it is costing the taxpayers. Instead of new information or concrete, specific examples we were given vague numbers and basically told to have faith and continue to hope for economic change. We were told that, even though 1.6 million jobs have been lost, 150,000 have been created or saved. The Administration also told us that in the next 100 days, an additional 600,000 jobs would be created or saved. Created or saved? Which is it and where are they? The Department of Labor can specifically point to the precise sectors when jobs have been lost – why can’t the Obama Administration be a little more specific? Where are the actual people who have a new job or avoided losing their job as a result of the ARRA? Why, if the ARRA is doing what it was supposed to do, do we only have 150,000 jobs to show for it? What happened to the 3.5 million jobs over two years that the Administration had initially promised? A meager 150,000 is a rather austere start when such lofty promises have been made.
The Baltimore Sun has reported that the Obama Administration is “relying heavily on educators to pull the country out of its economic doldrums”. Education funding is important – Maryland already spends record amounts on education. But, when exactly did educators become such dependable economic stimulators? What is so wrong with depending on the traditional economic engines like small businesses and entrepreneurship? As a part of this new reliance on educators as an economic stimulant, Maryland will soon receive $210 million in additional federal stimulus money for education. Now there is no doubt that the O’Malley Administration is eagerly anticipating another pot of money to spend – they have yet to find a pot of money they did not like. However, this latest pot of money from the taxpayers (we should never forget that it is after all taxpayer money) through the ARRA is just small example of the catastrophic failure of the stimulus plan to repair the economy. The reason for this failure is very basic – the stimulus plan does nothing to stimulate the economy and only stimulates and enables the bad spending habits government.
In Maryland, we have grown accustomed to failed government policies disguised with a public relations and media blitz. They have been the hallmark of the O’Malley Administration. Governor O’Malley used this “governing by mirage” technique consistently as Mayor and brought that bag of tricks with him to the Governor’s mansion. The best example of this is the tax increase scheme he championed in 2007 – allegedly aimed at wiping out the structural deficit. In the summer of 2007 the Governor went on a state-wide tour with a “Cost of Delay” budget in his pocket. The purpose of this doom and gloom budget was to scare people into supporting his massive tax increase plan. To sweeten the pot, he told everyone that 95% of people would actually see a tax cut. What do we have to show for the Governor’s massive tax increases? The structural deficit was not wiped out; it is currently $1.2 billion and growing. The 95% of us that were supposed to see a reduction in taxes are still waiting. While congratulating himself on his fiscal responsibility, the Governor has backfilled virtually every reduction in state spending and the budget has grown year after year. In the 2009 session it looked like the Governor would have to make actual reductions that he could not backfill, but he was rescued from having to make those reductions by the Obama stimulus package. Instead of making the plump bureaucracy of state government lighter, leaner, and more efficient the Obama stimulus package has perpetuated the cycle of Maryland’s chronic overspending. As a result, Maryland is well on its way to another tax increase when the stimulus money runs out – a need that will conveniently arise after the next election.
It is abundantly clear that the policies of the Obama Administration and the O’Malley Administration have done more to hurt our economy than to help it. Citizens across the state and the nation are beginning to rise up realizing that the emperors are not wearing clothes and we have been taken for fools. What is needed to get this economy moving is to put money in the hands of the taxpayers – not the government. Reduce the size of government and reduce taxes – allow people to keep what they earn. Give people incentives to spend through sales tax holidays and with tax credits. It is time to put an end to the nanny state where government takes care of us. It is time to put our faith back into the entrepreneurial spirit of our country. Enough is enough.