House and Senate Republicans expressed strong opposition Tuesday to President Obama’s $835 billion stimulus package now before Congress.
Rep. Zach Wamp, Tennessee Republican, told CNN in no uncertain terms that he will vote against the bill once it reaches the House floor. Democrats hold the majority in the House and Senate, but Mr. Obama seeks bipartisan support for his plan, the biggest such stimulus package in history.
“We’re going to vote ‘no,’” Mr. Wamp said. “They’re (the Democrats) going to slam dunk this, and we’re going to go into debt. We’re going to vote ‘no.’”
Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Maryland Democrat and the assistant House speaker, said that “many Republican ideas have been incorporated” into the stimulus bill. He expressed hope that House Republicans will support it when it comes to a vote Wednesday but added that it does not seem likely.
“We need to focus on making sure that people can keep their jobs,” he said on the Fox News Channel.
“We will have the final up or down vote tomorrow,” he said.
Rep. Ron Paul, Texas Republican, warned that Mr. Obama’s plan to stimulate the economy will cause inflation and lead to a depression.
“This stimulus package is going to cause every American $6,700 of more debt,” he told CNN in an interview.
Mr. Obama planned to meet with Republicans on Capitol Hill later Tuesday to discuss his proposal to boost the economy with spending on repairing the nation’s infrastructure, schools and government buildings; offering tax breaks; and creating up to 4 million jobs.
Some Republicans oppose the plan because it does not stimulate the economy fast enough and say that it should contain more tax cuts that would take effect immediately.
Mr. Paul argued that printing more money to inject it into the economy only will create inflation down the road.
“More inflation is absolutely the wrong way to go,” said Mr. Paul, a former presidential candidate. “We’re taking a recession and trying to turn it into a depression… . To continue doing what we’re trying to do isn’t going to work.
We’re in the process of destroying the dollar” because of creating inflation. “We’re going to see a real calamity.”
“Government should get out of the way,” he said.
Sen. John Ensign, Nevada Republican, also criticized the content of the Obama stimulus package, telling CNBC that the president’s goals are worthy but that they will not be met with this plan.
“This is not a package that meets the president’s goals,” said Mr. Ensign, a member of the Senate Finance Committee. “We need to have a package … that’s targeted to create jobs.”
He said the housing problem should be fixed first because “that’s what’s dragging the economy down.” People facing foreclosure could refinance their homes at 4 percent interest rates so that “every American could save $400 a month,” he said.
“This is a huge pork-barrel spending bill that is not going to help the economy,” Mr. Ensign said of the proposed stimulus legislation.
Sen. John Barrasso, Wyoming Republican, told MSNBC that the stimulus plan should “guarantee low interest rates for mortgages” and should include tax cuts for small businesses because “in that way they can hire more people.”
He said the plan should be implemented “in a targeted way” and that the results of spending on the stimulus “can’t be on the backs of our children and grandchildren.”