For the first time in the history of The Heritage Foundation, the Foundation’s president Ed Feulner has written An Open Letter to the Congress and the President of the United States. It begins:
For the last 35 years, educators and analysts at The Heritage Foundation have been intimately involved in the nation’s great public policy debates. In all that time, we have never encountered legislation with such far-reaching and revolutionary policy implications as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act currently before Congress. And never have we seen a bill more cloaked in secrecy or more withdrawn from open public exposure and honest debate.
While the stimulative utility of the bill is, at best, questionable, it would unquestionably rewrite the social contract between the American people and their government. For example:
- The bill reverses the bipartisan and highly successful welfare reforms of 1996 and drastically expands the welfare state. For instance, it will start rewarding states for adding people to their welfare rolls, rather than for helping them find gainful employment. And contrary to long-established practice, it will entitle able-bodied adults without children to receive cash assistance.
- It does extreme violence to the concept of federalism—bailing out states that have spent irresponsibly at the expense of taxpayers in states that have been fiscally prudent.
- It greatly shifts the responsibility and power over health care delivery and decision making from individuals to government. Among other things, it would create a new federal health board to decide which medical services are “effective” in America, paving the way for government effectively to overrule the clinical decisions of private physicians.
- It deliberately censors religious speech and worship on school campuses by prohibiting use of any “stimulus” funds for facilities that are used for sectarian instruction, religious worship, or a school of divinity.
The list goes on. … This reckless approach to governance can only undermine public faith in our elected officials and our government as a whole. We call on Congress and the Administration to live up to their promises and stated ideals, and give the democratic process a chance to work.
Read the whole letter here.