Rep. Frank: Iraq will be largest spending bill in history
Nick Cargo
Published: Sunday February 1, 2009

Print This  Email This

On Sunday's This Week, Congressman and House Financial Services Committee chairman Barney Frank (D-MA) broke with Senator and Joint Economic Committee member Jim DeMint (R-SC) over repeated cries of "wasteful spending" as the Senate considers a stimulus package proposed by the President. The House bill came to $819 billion, while the Senate version is closer to $900 billion.

The effort was unanimously opposed by House Republicans and recently dubbed the "porkulus" by Rush Limbaugh as opposition also grows among GOP senators. Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) called for an overhaul of the legislation, saying it doesn't devote enough to tax cuts, to which a third of the proposed funding is allocated, and housing issues. Republicans are calling the bill a Democratic "spending spree" that doesn't put enough in the hands of the private sector.

Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) suggested lawmakers "start from scratch" on the bill, criticizing the reach of the proposed tax rebate for individuals ($500) and couples ($1,000); the rebates would be made available even if less was owed in taxes.

Other uses of the funds would include money to assist state budgets, infrastructure projects, and "green jobs."

Rep. Frank placed blame once more with deregulation for creating the worsening economic conditions that led to banks receiving hundreds of billions of dollars in government aid. "The complete absence of regulation in the financial area has, I think, been a disaster," he said. "And I think we're back to where we were when Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson stepped in or Franklin Roosevelt...No tax cut builds a road. No tax cut puts a cop on the street. No tax cut educates a child in the way that it ought to be done."

When DeMint cited the proposed package the "largest spending bill in history," Frank indicted the occupation of Iraq on its costly consequences to the treasury. "The largest spending bill in history is going to turn out to be the war in Iraq," he charged of the effort, which was widely supported by Republicans throughout the George W. Bush years, which also fostered three major tax cuts and the addition of $4.9 trillion to the national debt. "And one of the things, if we're going to talk about spending, I don't -- I have a problem when we leave out that extraordinarily expensive, damaging war in Iraq, which has caused much more harm than good, in my judgment.

"And I don't understand why, from some of my conservative friends, building a road, building a school, helping somebody get health care, that's wasteful spending, but that war in Iraq, which is going to cost us over $1 trillion before we're through--yes, I wish we hadn't have done that. We'd have been in a lot better shape fiscally."

"The problem," Frank went on, "is that we look at spending and say, 'Oh, don't spend on highways. Don't spend on health care. But let's build Cold War weapons to defeat the Soviet Union when we don't need them. Let's have hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars going to the military without a check.'"

DeMint blamed corporate taxes, taxation rules and a "government managed economy" for the shipping of jobs overseas in the interest of being "competitive." "We all want to buy American," he said, but "we actually put these people out of work, ship jobs overseas with bad policy, and then we want to put our hand up and stop our imports from coming in."

"[Let's] don't say [the proposed bill] is a stimulus when it's a government spending plan," he continued.

"Spending can be stimulus," Frank countered. "I don't understand what you think stimulus is."

Video of Congressman Frank and Senator DeMint is available to view here.