Conservatives began talking about rescinding the stimulus after President Obama signed it into law. Liberals are starting to listen.
House Democrats approved an amendment to the Afghanistan and Iraq war supplemental yesterday, 239 to 182, that cuts more than $1.6 billion originally allocated for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (complete list below). Among the notable rescissions: $487 million from the government’s nutrition program for low-income women and children, known as WIC.
A statement from Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) says the rescissions come from programs that “no longer require the funding, have sufficient funds on hand, or do not need the funding this year or next.”
The cuts appear to be a tacit admission by tax-and-spend liberals of the stimulus’ failure. Two weeks ago a Pew Research/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll revealed that 60 percent of Americans said the Recovery Act has not helped the job situation. Today’s jobs report didn’t improve the outlook. The U.S. economy has lost 2.3 million jobs since Obama signed the stimulus.
Still, the Democrats’ rescissions come as a bit of a surprise given the Obama administration’s recent push to shore up support for the stimulus with its so-called “Summer of Recovery.”
They also come with a catch. The cuts were included in the bill, along with $3 billion in defense rescissions, as offsets to pay for new government spending on a $10 billion bailout for teachers among other liberal priorities. Obey would’ve been better off using the rescissions to pay down the deficit rather than financing more ineffective “stimulus” spending.
There’s at least one rescission that raises a red flag: $7 million in cuts to the Coast Guard, the agency overseeing the Gulf oil spill cleanup. Just two weeks ago at a House hearing, Democrats lamented a lack of Coast Guard funding as they suggested new responsibilities for the agency. Obama already proposed crippling cuts to the Coast Guard in his budget this year.
The money was originally earmarked for the Coast Guard in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. But even if it wasn’t needed for post-Katrina construction, perhaps that $7 million could have been transferred for another use by the Coast Guard.