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Massive bill offers little help, burdens the future

When I ran for Congress, in addition to pledging to shrink Washington and grow Western New York, I committed to telling it straight. So here goes: During his eight years in office, President George W. Bush ran up budget deficits totaling $3.35 trillion. This is a massive, irresponsible burden on future generations.

Now consider what the recently enacted, $1.2 trillion Washington stimulus measure will do to the budget. With this massive new spending factored in, cumulative budget deficits from 2010 through 2017 are projected to total $8.4 trillion -- more than 2 1/2 times that of the Bush years.

What is all this Washington spending for? Washington, of course. For every dollar this bill invests in small business tax relief, Washington gets to keep more than 32 for the creation of at least 31 new programs.

Then there's the now too-familiar litany of pork-barrel spending that is unrelated to economic stimulus, including $5.5 billion for federal government buildings, $650 million for digital TV converter box coupons and $25 million for Smithsonian museum upgrades.

Indeed, only a fraction of this spending bill will help, and only a fraction of that fraction can be spent this fiscal year, according to experts and nonpartisan sources like the Congressional Budget Office.

The fact that consumers and investors have failed to respond positively to the Washington spending bill demonstrates that we can't just spend our way to prosperity. What we need is a responsible plan to create jobs, not another Washington boondoggle.

That's why I put my experience as a manager in the manufacturing sector to work and helped write an alternative recovery plan that, according to the same analytical methods used by President Obama's top economic advisers, creates twice the jobs at half the cost.

My alternative recovery plan does this in part by allowing small businesses to take a tax deduction equal to 20 percent of their income, which will immediately free up funds for saving or creating jobs. The Washington spending bill does not do this.

My alternative plan also offers tax relief to every income taxpayer in America by slashing the bottom two -- not the top two -- tax brackets by a third. Married couples would see relief as high as $3,200 per year under this plan.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the Washington spending bill will put an extra $8 to $10 per week in workers' paychecks. The Associated Press is more generous, putting the benefits at $13 per week. Some stimulus.

President John F. Kennedy once said, "to govern is to choose." My choice was to oppose the Washington spending bill because I do not believe more of the same irresponsible spending will engineer Western New York's economic recovery or create jobs over the long term. Mortgaging our children's future will only drive us deeper into the ditch. It's time to change course.

Chris Lee, R-Clarence, represents New York's 26th Congressional District.

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