After we reported last week on Vern Ehlers’ opposition to the recently passed economic recovery bill, Ehlers again appeared in the local media criticizing the bill as being too large and poorly thought out.
Ehlers Criticizes the Stimulus Bill in the Media
Yesterday on WZZM 13, Ehlers said the sole focus should be on creating jobs:
“If the people have jobs, a lot of the problems go away. If they don’t get jobs, the other problems magnify.”
Of course, Ehlers neglected to mention that the bill will create 158,000 jobs in Michigan.
In the Grand Rapids Press, Ehlers even went so far as to reject funding for the cash strapped Grand Rapids Public Schools. In the bill, GRPS would get $39 million in funding and schools in the Greater Grand Rapids area would receive around $96 million. Ehlers said the money–which would be aimed at funding construction and special education programs–is simply being used by Democrats “to support issues they would support anyhow” and that it is “going to turn into the biggest pork barrel spending ever.”
Ehlers has said the focus should be entirely on creating jobs, but he voted for an alternative Republican proposal that would have simply implemented a variety of long-sought tax cuts. That bill–sponsored by Michigan Republican David Camp–argued that tax cuts would stimulate job growth, although no clear connection was made.
Back in 2008, <a href="http://www.mediamouse.org/news/2008/10/ehlers-opts-to-ignore-constitu.php"Ehlers voted to spend $700 billion to bailout the financial industry. He also supported a controversial measure that gave tax rebate checks to US citizens with the goal of stimulating the economy. Ehlers was mildly critical of that bill, but seemed willing to support it because it was proposed by Republicans.
This year, Ehlers was one of the Republican Representatives approached by the Obama administration who thought that it might be possible to get the “moderate” Republican to support the bill.
Stimulus Bill Includes Corporate Tax Breaks
As a commenter pointed out when we last wrote about Ehlers and the stimulus bill, the bill is far from perfect. While Ehlers’ comments have been fairly ridiculous, much of the debate around the stimulus package has ignored the fact that it is full of proposals aimed at appeasing Republicans. For example, the bill includes billions in corporate tax breaks:
“At least $23.8 billion in corporate tax breaks have been included in the $825 billion economic recovery package in order to win backing from key business groups and their Congressional allies, even though the team that put the legislation together believes the breaks have little value in stimulating the economy and creating jobs.
Top beneficiaries include banks, telecommunication companies, railroads and oil, hotels, casinos, and both commercial and residential real estate firms.”
This approach has been criticized by many progressives and progressive leaning policy organizations. For example, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has published a number of papers and reports criticizing policies aimed at reducing taxes as a form of economic stimulus.