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July 9, 2009

Johanns Condemns Stimulus Waste He Predicted

Washington, DC

Below are remarks as prepared for delivery by Senator Mike Johanns regarding the recently published reports documenting the failure and inadequacies of the economic stimulus passed in February, and the unprecedented federal deficit. Speaking on the Senate floor, Johanns cited two new reports published by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Senator Johanns is tentatively scheduled to deliver remarks at 12 p.m. EDT/11 a.m. CDT.

Highlights of the speech as prepared for delivery:

"If that Guinness Book Record-sized debt wasn't astonishing enough, you'll be floored that this debt is from only the first three-quarters of a year. It's mystifying to me, Mr. President, and horrifying to the American taxpayers and their children who will someday have to pay the bill. It represents a dangerous reality for our future."

"The recklessness of proposed spending, new government programs, and increased deficits is sobering."

"The last thing the federal government should do, directly or indirectly, is stifle American businesses and hardworking families just as they are trying their best to crawl out from the economic yoke of debt, taxes, and a stagnant economy. Before we drive the federal budget off another cliff - and take state budgets with us - we need to put our foot on the brakes, slow down, and correct our course."

Remarks as prepared for delivery by Senator Mike Johanns Regarding Reports On Stimulus Deficiencies:

"Mr. President, I rise today to say that rarely has a crystal ball proved so regrettably accurate. Many warned, as did I, that the stimulus would amount to a mountain of wasted money. It produced record deficits and thus far, little else. Don't take my word for it-you can read it in black and white in two reports released yesterday - a CBO report and a GAO report.

"According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the federal budget deficit for the first nine months of 2009 was a whopping $1.1 trillion. This is the first time in our nation's history that the annual deficit has been so high. If that Guinness Book Record-sized debt wasn't astonishing enough, you'll be floored that this debt is from only the first three-quarters of a year. It's mystifying to me, Mr. President, and horrifying to the American taxpayers and their children who will someday have to pay the bill.

"It represents a dangerous reality for our future. Only four percent of the first stimulus funding has been spent and we're shattering national deficit records already. This was easily predicted. Look back a few short months to February, when we were debating the stimulus legislation.

"On February 4, 2009, I delivered my first speech as a senator and I made some simple predictions based on my experiences as a City Council Member, Mayor, and Governor. Serving in those roles, I learned a few things about how money is spent on the local level. Particularly, the hidden costs of money from the federal government that seemingly came with no strings attached. I warned, in that speech, what would happen with the so-called 'stimulus' legislation. I predicted that state governments would use the funds to replace state dollars and shore-up their budgets.

"Sure enough, the Government Accounting Office (GAO) yesterday reported this: "States reported using Recovery Act funds to stabilize state budgets and to cope with fiscal stresses." The report states that 90 percent of the money distributed has come in the form of increased federal education and health-care grants to state governments. This money has helped many state governments to partially offset state budget shortfalls.

"I also warned that the result of replacing state funds with federal funds would lead to an enormous funding cliff for state budgets when the 'temporary' stimulus funds ran out. The GAO report sends up a warning flare because states have not addressed the situation they will be in when the stimulus funding stream runs out, or how they will come up with the funding to cushion the fall on the other side of the funding cliff.

"I wish I had been wrong back in February when I said that the transportation sector jobs estimated to be created by major infrastructure projects would never materialize because the funding would instead go to repaving projects. I urged my colleagues to reconsider because repaving projects would NOT lead to long-term economic growth or good jobs. So, what is the consensus since the stimulus bill went into law?

"The GAO report states that nearly 50 percent of all transportation projects are for resurfacing and another 18 percent of the funds are being used to widen existing roads. That adds up to nearly 70 percent on temporary road improvement projects!

"So, even though President Obama said there's nothing he would have done differently, I find this hard to believe considering his earlier remarks that predicted a much different result from what is actually happening. In a speech on February 10, 2009, he said: 'We can use a crisis and turn it into an opportunity. Because if we use this moment to address some things that we probably should have been doing over the last ten, fifteen, twenty years, then when we emerge from the crisis, the economy is going to be that much stronger.'

"As evidenced by the GAO report, the stimulus bill is not laying down the essential groundwork for sustained, economic growth, long term initiatives, or jobs. In fact, the unemployment rate reached 9.5 percent in June, the highest rate in 26 years. This means that since the stimulus was signed into law, 2,964 jobs have been lost for every hour of every work day.

"Clearly, the stimulus bill was sold to the American people as a quick fix to solve our economic woes. It is failing. And now, the Obama Administration and his supporters in Congress want to quickly tack on to the $1 trillion stimulus a litany of big spending initiatives: health care reform, cap-and-tax, and an overhaul of the financial system. The recklessness of proposed spending, new government programs, and increased deficits is sobering.

"What does all this proposed spending add up to? A huge train wreck with stacks of IOUs to China as far as the eye can see. Yet, some have the audacity to raise the possibility of a second stimulus package. It simply defies logic. The last thing the federal government should do, directly or indirectly, is stifle American businesses and hardworking families just as they are trying their best to crawl out from the economic yoke of debt, taxes, and a stagnant economy. Before we drive the federal budget off another cliff - and take state budgets with us - we need to put our foot on the brakes, slow down, and correct our course.

"With that Mr. President, I yield the floor."

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