By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas joined all other House Republicans in voting against President Barack Obama’s $819 billion stimulus bill Wednesday, saying it will not help the economy.
“The federal government does not create wealth,” Lucas said after the vote. “It simply takes money from one person’s pocket and transfers it to another person’s pocket. Spending hundreds of billions of dollars this country does not have on government projects that are unnecessary will not stimulate the economy and does not help my constituents.”
The bill passed the House 244-188. Republi-cans were unanimous in their opposition.
“From my view, if the goal is to get money in a hurry to pump up the economy and move forward, I don’t think it will do it,” Lucas said in a telephone interview Wednesday morning. “It’s taken 14 years of things people couldn’t get money for, rolled it up and put it all together.”
The package, developed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic majority leadership, promises to create 3 million jobs and have an immediate boost in the American economy, Lucas said. However, he said, economists have agreed there is no guarantee the plan would create even one job.
The amount of money in the stimulus plan would mean $275,000 would be spent to create each of the 3 million jobs, Lucas said, an amount he said is too high.
Lucas said he was upset about how the bill was put together and complained Obama “forgot to tell House Speaker Nancy Pelosi about using an open process and involving everyone,” because that is not how the bill was put together.
“There’s a variety of costs that are too high, the stimulus effect is not sufficient for that amount of money,” he said.
Lucas, who represents Oklahoma’s 3rd Congressional District, including northwest Oklahoma, said adding money to the national debt would be a tremendous burden to taxpayers.
“Instead of adding $6,700 to each American household’s share of the debt, which will be passed on to our children and grandchildren, Speaker Pelosi could have used this money to give each American man, woman and child $2,700 or give each American living in poverty $22,000,” Lucas said. “There are portions of this bill that I support, such as infrastructure spending. But the spirit of a stimulus packaged is to pump money into the economy as quickly as possible, not to grant the wish list of every Democrat donor and special interest group.”
Lucas said the package should have been smaller and contain a mixture of tax relief and targeted spending. One example of the bill’s shortcomings is the $30 billion targeted for roads and bridges, Lucas said. More money should be spent in those types of areas, he said, where work can start quickly.
Lucas questioned whether the bill will do enough good in the time frame to turn the economy around on the East and West coasts.
“Somebody has to re-member the taxpayers and our children, too,” Lucas said.