Van Hollen: Boehner’s Plan Would Jeopardize Economic Recovery
Democratic congressman Chris Van Hollen sought Friday to tamp down the increasingly loud chatter among the political punditry that Democrats’ chances of maintaining their majority in the House of Representatives this fall are quickly dwindling.
“I can assure you that despite the Washington summer political chatter, reports of the House Democrats’ demise are greatly exaggerated,” Van Hollen said, invoking the tried and tested Mark Twain quote.
Rep. Van Hollen, D-Md., is charged with keeping his party in the majority and today he set much of his aim on what he sees as the alternative. He said that House Republican leader John Boehner’s ideas could lead to a double-dip recession. Boehner would become Speaker of the House next year if Republicans win 39 seats back from Democrats in November.
In an appearance at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Van Hollen said that he believes the 2010 midterms are a choice between policies that have aided in the economic recovery and the policies of the George W. Bush administration that “got us into the ditch.”
Van Hollen acknowledged that 2010 was going to be a tough year for his party, but said Americans should pay attention to what the other side would do if elected.
“The other day in Ohio the Republican leader said he would reverse the remaining elements of the economic recovery plan,” Van Hollen said. “What Mr. Boehner proposed the other day would reverse the budding growth we are experiencing and throw a lot of people out of work. That’s because it would cancel over 64,000 contracts and awards that have already been paid, valued at about $216 billion.”
“Canceling those contracts could easily precipitate a double dip recession,” Van Hollen added.
Boehner gave a speech in Cleveland, Ohio, on August 24 in which he called for President Obama to fire top members of his economic recovery team. He also criticized the president’s 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, otherwise known as the stimulus bill. The $787 billion package of tax cuts and government spending was intended to prop up the American economy during a recession. Republicans rejected the plan, and have used the issue of federal spending as one of their main talking points during the 2010 midterm campaign — claiming that too much federal spending is hurting the economy.
This year, the federal deficit is estimated to top $1.3 trillion, the second-largest amount as a percentage of the economy in 65 years, according to the independent Congressional Budget Office.
Boehner highlighted how his party would tackle spending.
“Republicans on the House Budget Committee, led by Congressman Paul Ryan, have already identified $1.3 trillion in specific spending cuts that could be implemented immediately. These are common-sense steps — like canceling unspent ‘stimulus’ and TARP bailout funds — that put the brakes on Washington’s out-of-control spending spree,” Boehner said in the speech.
According to Recovery.gov, the White House Web site for the stimulus, $285 billion remains to be spent of the stimulus money.
The CBO said in a report this week that the stimulus plan lowered the unemployment rate by 0.7 percent to 1.8 percent, or the equivalent of 1.4 million to 3.3 million jobs.