This summary of the House Democrats' spending proposals for the economic stimulus bill was released by Rep. David Obey of Wisconsin, who chairs the powerful House Appropriations Committee.
SUMMARY: AMERICAN RECOVERY AND REINVESTMENT
The economy is in a crisis not seen since the Great Depression.
Credit is frozen, consumer purchasing power is in decline, in the last four months the country has lost 2 million jobs and we are expected to lose another 3 to 5 million in the next year.
Conservative economist Mark Zandi was blunt: "the economy is shutting down."
In the next two weeks, the Congress will be considering the American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009. This package is the first crucial step in a concerted effort to create and save 3 to 4 million jobs, jumpstart our economy, and begin the process of transforming it for the 21st century with $275 billion in economic recovery tax cuts and $550 billion in thoughtful and carefully targeted priority investments with unprecedented accountability measures built in.
The package contains targeted efforts in:
· Clean, Efficient, American Energy
· Transforming our Economy with Science and Technology
· Modernizing Roads, Bridges, Transit and Waterways
· Education for the 21st Century
· Tax Cuts to Make Work Pay and Create Jobs
· Lowering Healthcare Costs
· Helping Workers Hurt by the Economy
· Saving Public Sector Jobs and Protect Vital Services
The economy is in such trouble that, even with passage of this package, unemployment rates are expected to rise to between eight and nine percent this year. Without this package, we are warned that unemployment could explode to near twelve percent. With passage of this package, we will face a large deficit for years to come. Without it, those deficits will be devastating and we face the risk of economic chaos. Tough choices have been made in this legislation and fiscal discipline will demand more tough choices in years to come.
Since 2001, as worker productivity went up, 96 percent of the income growth in this country went to the wealthiest 10 percent of society. While they were benefitting from record high worker productivity, the remaining 90 percent of Americans were struggling to sustain their standard of living. They sustained it by borrowing . . . and borrowing . . . and borrowing, and when they couldn't borrow anymore, the bottom fell out. This plan will strengthen the middle class, not just Wall Street CEOs and special interests in Washington.
Our short term task is to try to prevent the loss of millions of jobs and get our economy moving. The long term task is to make the needed investments that restore the ability of average middle income families to increase their income and build a decent future for their children.
Unprecedented Accountability: A historic level of transparency, oversight and accountability will help guarantee taxpayer dollars are spent wisely and Americans can see results for their investment.
· In many instances funds are distributed through existing formulas to programs with proven track records and accountability measures already in place.
· How funds are spent, all announcements of contract and grant competitions and awards, and formula grant allocations must be posted on a special website created by the President. Program managers will also be listed so the public knows who to hold accountable.
· Public notification of funding must include a description of the investment funded, the purpose, the total cost and why the activity should be funded with recovery dollars. Governors, mayors or others making funding decisions must personally certify that the investment has been fully vetted and is an appropriate use of taxpayer dollars. This will also be placed on the recovery website.
· A Recovery Act Accountability and Transparency Board will be created to review management of recovery dollars and provide early warning of problems. The seven member board includes Inspectors General and Deputy Cabinet secretaries.
· The Government Accountability Office and the Inspectors General are provided additional funding and access for special review of recovery funding.