Senate GOP leaders may be trying to cast the president’s latest jobs proposal as another “failed” stimulus measure, but not all Senate Republicans agree that the 2009 government spending spree was such a political disaster.
Maine Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe are sticking by their votes in favor of the original Obama stimulus from two years ago, and both Republicans said last week that the law created jobs, though it could have been more effective.
“I don’t think [the stimulus] failed. Virtually every study I have seen has given the stimulus credit for the creation of between 1.3 million and 5 million jobs,” Collins said.
“I think people forget that more than a third of the stimulus was spent on tax relief,” she continued. “I have always wondered why that has gotten lost in the debate.”
“Nevertheless, I believe the stimulus would have been far more effective if the money had gone for infrastructure, and that is what I advocated,” Collins said.
Snowe also said the 2009 stimulus had merit in preventing the economy from collapsing and created jobs in some areas of the economy but not in others.
“Nobody in 2009 was arguing against a stimulus,” she said.
As Snowe sees it, the stimulus was supposed to give the private sector a breather from the economic downturn.
But it didn’t exactly work out that way. She blamed big-government solutions to issues, such as the president’s push for a health care reform law, for impeding private-sector rejuvenation.
She added that the administration and Congress didn’t pursue the issues that would have been important for reinvigorating the economic environment to be conducive for capital investments, hiring more people and creating the overall conditions for economic growth.
Besides Collins and Snowe, many Republicans have touted stimulus-funded projects in their districts or states, even though Collins, Snowe and then-Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.) were the only Republicans to vote for the measure.
But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has set out to draw a parallel between the 2009 stimulus — which he contends failed to boost the economy and added to the deficit — with the president’s new $447 billion jobs plan to increase infrastructure spending, preserve teacher and first-responder jobs, and extend the payroll tax cut, among other proposals to create or save jobs.
Republicans have also latched onto the recent bankruptcy of Solyndra, a Fremont, Calif., solar panel maker, which received $535 million in Department of Energy loan guarantees that were funded through the stimulus. The FBI raided Solyndra’s headquarters Sept. 8 as part of an investigation with the DOE’s inspector general.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.