In February of this year, the President signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (H.R. 1), also known as the stimulus bill, allocating $787 billion to create jobs and to stimulate the economy. Today, according to the State of California’s Employment Development Department, San Diego County is facing the highest unemployment rate in recent history: 10.2 percent. Statewide unemployment in the Golden State has risen to 12.2 percent, and this number is projected to increase.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the non-partisan government agency providing economic data to Congress, now projects a budget deficit of $9 trillion over the next decade. The CBO estimates our 2009 budget deficit at $1.6 trillion, which, at 11.2 percent of our gross domestic product, is the highest deficit since World War II. We’ve funded the stimulus through borrowing, and the Treasury reports our total outstanding debt as more than $7.5 trillion. If you were to spread out our total public debt among all American households, each family would be responsible for $71,160. On top of this, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has hinted at the real possibility of hyper-inflation on the horizon, making it even harder for families to make ends meet.
Surprisingly, leadership in the House of Representatives in Washington is discussing the possibility of a second economic stimulus in an attempt to correct our current economic course.
There is no question that our economy needs help, but after the auto bailout, Bush’s Wall Street bailout, the first AIG bailout, the second AIG bailout, the first stimulus package, the so-called “Cap and Trade” bill designed to increase taxes without cutting emissions, and a recently proposed government-funded health care system also designed with tax increases, it is time to come to terms with the fact that we cannot keep borrowing and spending our way out of a poor economy. After all, individuals doing exactly this is what got us into this mess in the first place.
For my own part, I support the alternative economic recovery plan, known as the Camp Alternative, which includes lowering the bottom two income-tax brackets for American families, spurs job creation through a tax deduction of 20 percent on small business income, extends the homebuyer tax credit and federal unemployment benefits to help those who have been laid off. But tax cuts alone are not the answer. We need a sound clean-energy policy that attracts investment, provides new jobs and lays the framework for a renewed era of success for small businesses in San Diego and the rest of the country. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and with more than half of all Americans employed by small businesses, it makes sense that we ensure that their foundation of success is strong and stable for their needs today, and into a sustainable future.
Too many San Diegans are out of work to continue with the same old Washington tricks. As I do with every issue, I stand ready to work with my Democratic colleagues on real reforms that will get our economy moving again to provide high-paying jobs for our families and friends. This is a goal we can all agree on so let’s work together as one nation, not two parties, to achieve it.
Congressman Brian Bilbray represents the 50th District of California, is a member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and voted against the first stimulus.