Say when: Congress fills up on stimulus

By Stephen Dinan, The Washington Times

Prodded by last week’s disappointing job-creation numbers, Democrats and Republicans alike are calling for Congress to tackle yet another “jobs bill” – but after 2 1/2 years of stimulus, and well more than $1 trillion committed, the appetite for stimulus spending has dropped.

That means that for the next two months, as lawmakers rush to complete the heavy legislative lifting before they turn full time to the campaign trail, the key question, as it has been for most of the past two years, again will be to spend – or not to spend.

Democratic leaders, who have already invested politically in stimulus spending over the past 15 months, said the fact that the economy is growing at all is testament to the $862 billion stimulus bill enacted in early 2009 and to repeated efforts to build on that.

Over the next few months, they hope to add to that list by approving more unemployment benefits, job-training aid, spending for state and local governments to hire or keep workers, and a small-business lending fund.

“Democrats in Congress will continue taking action on our No. 1 priority: creating good-paying jobs for the American people,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California.

But with the national debt now at $13 trillion and the annual deficit expected to be well above $1 trillion again this year, skittishness has risen in both parties.

That has forced a scale-back of some of Democrats’ plans, including dropping billions of dollars in extended health care subsidies to those who have lost jobs.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, said it’s time the government got out of the way of companies that could create jobs.

“The two things that are growing fastest in this Democrat economy are the size of the federal government and the crushing burden of the national debt,” he said. “Americans are doing everything possible to work harder, produce more, and live with less, while Washington is saddling them with even more government and insurmountable debt for their efforts.”

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