President Obama today will sign the $787-billion economic stimulus bill into law, which Governor Culver says could mean $1.9-billion for Iowa over three years for roads and bridges, education and health care. Critics say it’ll place an unnecessary burden on future generations.
Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says he doesn’t recall when he’s gotten such a large, nearly-unanimous reaction from his constituents. Grassley says his office got five-thousand phone calls in ten days from folks who overwhelmingly oppose the spending plan.
"People have questions about whether it will do what it’s supposed to do to stimulate the economy," Grassley says. "The size of it just is mind-boggling to my constituents and in a sense to me because of the amount of money that’s going to be added to the federal debt."
One of Grassley’s largest complaints is that the stimulus package won’t offer a sufficient amount of immediate, short-term help, as many elements focus only on the long-term. Grassley says, "So much of the $800-billion bill is not going to be spent during ’09 and ’10, it’s going to be spent beyond ten, so the extent to which is going to be spent beyond ’10 is obviously not stimulating the economy."
Grassley says the stimulus plan includes eight-billion dollars in funding for a railroad to be built between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. He says the railroad project likely won’t even be started until after 2010.
"The best example I can give you is for computerizing medical records," Grassley says. "A very good program, but only two-and-six-tenths percent of that $12-billion is going to be spent during the two years of the stimulus."
He says less than half of one-percent of the bill is for tax relief for small businesses, which create 70-percent of new jobs. In addition, Grassley says the Congressional Budget Office estimates the bill spends as much as $270,000 for every temporary job it creates.