Newly-minted U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, backed by a broad-based coalition of conservative organizations, is, on behalf of the U.S. taxpayers, trying to recover the remaining unspent money from the Obama stimulus plan.
The plan, which celebrates its second anniversary this week, was supposed to revive the U.S. economy by funding so-called shovel-ready projects and keep unemployment from ever going past 8 percent. By most accounts, it has been a crashing failure.
At a Capitol Hill press conference Monday, Duffy released his legislation—the Recovering Excessive Stimulus Expenditures for Taxpayers Act—which would take the unobligated stimulus funds, which may be as much as $45 billion, and return them to the U.S. treasury to be used for deficit reduction. [Find out who donates the most money to your member of Congress.]
The initial estimate for the so-called "stimulus" was that it would cost $787 billion, but the Congressional Budget Office now says it will cost $814 billion with the interest on the debt for the bill totaling at least $347 billion. According to the White House’s own recent estimates, $168 billion of the "emergency funding" still remains unspent, with up to $7 billion in unobligated funds. [See a slide show of 10 wasteful stimulus projects.]
“Part of the reason I decided to run for Congress to begin with was the alarming direction that the Democrat majority was taking our nation,” Duffy said when introducing his bill. “My predecessor [former Democratic U.S. Rep. David Obey] not only authored the so-called 'stimulus' and publicly lamented it did not spend more taxpayer money.” [Check out a roundup of political cartoons on Democrats.]
Duffy, a rising star in the congressional freshman class, was severe in his criticism of the failed program. “I simply disagree with the governing philosophy that the stimulus represents,” he said, “that we can grow our economy by growing the size of government. Rescinding the remaining stimulus funds and sending it back to the treasury for deficit reduction would send an important message to the private sector that there has been a fundamental shift in the People’s House from pushing big government policies to pro-growth policies that will empower the private sector to innovate and invest.”
Supporting Duffy in this effort are groups such as Americans for Tax Reform, the National Taxpayers Union, Americans for Retirement Prosperity, and the Restore the Dream Foundation, which have created a web site—DefundtheStimulus.com—which includes information on how activists can spur action on Capitol Hill to strip funding of wasteful stimulus projects that have not yet been implemented. [See a slide show of the best cities to find a job.]
“Every working family and small business in central and northwestern Wisconsin has been forced to live within their means, making painful cuts and tough choices to survive this economic downturn,” Duffy said. “Congress should do the same. There’s no reason why Washington cannot or should not live by the same rules as Wausau, Chippewa Falls, or my hometown of Hayward. This measure is no panacea, but it is the kind of reform that will get our federal government on the path to fiscal responsibility.”