Stimulus bill grows government, turns back reform
By Rep. Joe Pitts
Over the objections of nearly all Republicans, and millions of Americans, Democrats in Congress passed an $800 billion big government, special interest spending bill that will do little to help the economy in the short term, and may end up doing harm in the long term.
The bad provisions in the bill are too great to cover in just one column, though I'm sure we will continue to find more as people get the chance to really read and analyze the bill (the thousand page bill was made available to Congressional Republicans and the public just over 12 hours before the House voted on it).
Among some of the most egregious examples of spending that has little or nothing to do with creating jobs is $2 billion dollars for the Neighborhood Stabilization Fund. This funding will be available to organizations such as ACORN, which has been accused of practicing unlawful voter registration in recent elections.
There is also $8 billion for a high speed rail "gambler's express" program, which will fund at least one project from Las Vegas to Los Angeles.
The bill provides billions of dollars to massively expand the federal government. There are billions of dollars in the bill for the renovation, building or expansion of federal government buildings and programs.
One of the provisions that is of great concern to me is $1.1 billion to conduct "comparative effectiveness research" to evaluate the effectiveness of different preventative healthcare interventions. This may sound innocuous, but it means we are spending a billion dollars to set up a board that will inch us one step closer to government run socialized healthcare and rationed care.
In countries with government-run healthcare systems, comparative effectiveness is often used as an excuse to deny patients life-saving medical care on the grounds of cost-effectiveness. Comparative effectiveness research will be used by a board of unelected government bureaucrats who decide on the most cost effective healthcare treatment. In socialized medicine, this then becomes the standard by which the government approves treatments. The problem is, some people respond differently to some treatments or medications than others.
Each of us is unique, and our healthcare needs differ greatly. This is why healthcare decisions are best made by individuals in consultation with their doctor. A treatment that works from many people may not work the same with your body. The healthcare board of the United Kingdom has repeatedly denied breakthrough drugs to citizens suffering with breast cancer, Alzheimer's, and even multiple sclerosis on the grounds of comparative effectiveness. The British government has stripped citizens of the freedom to choose their own healthcare. And Democrats in Congress included a billion in this plan—which is supposed to be about creating jobs—in order to take another step down the road to government run, socialized healthcare.
Additionally, the bill will roll back one of the key reforms Congressional Republicans included in the successful 1996 welfare reform law -- discouraging welfare dependence.
This reform in the 1990s incentivized people to get off welfare and back to work. As a result of the reforms in 1996, U.S. welfare caseloads fell by more than 60 percent as people got back on their feet and off government help. The so-called stimulus plan undermines one of the key aspects of the reform that required individuals on welfare to be engaged in education, training, or job search. Even though numerous studies confirm that high school dropouts are more likely to be on welfare, live in poverty, by unemployed, and lack health coverage, the stimulus bill eliminates the requirement under current law that requires these individuals to participate in GED or other education or training programs ion order to receive welfare.
Why would the majority party want to stop encouraging people who are out of work to pursue education or training that will improve their skills and make them more attractive in the job market?
Obviously difficult economic times may require the government to do more to help families who are out of work, but the Democrats' stimulus bill is taking advantage of the situation by rolling back one of the fundamental tenets of welfare reform and returning it back to its failed model as a check without strings, rather than a temporary program to help needy families get back on their feet.
I opposed the so-called stimulus bill because it was full of big government, special interest spending and has little hope of accomplishing the job creation that our economy so desperately needs to get back on track.
Friday, February 13, 2009
Rep. Pitts: Stimulus bill grows government, turns back reform
U.S. Rep. Joe Pitts, a Republican who represents Pennsylvania's 16th Congressional District, issued the following commentary regarding the "stimulus" bill passed by House Democrats: