Dear Congress, stop the spending spree

Penny Nance President, Concerned Women for America
Font Size:

Congress is once again considering President Obama’s request for yet another economic stimulus package. Meanwhile, the jury is still out as to the efficacy of the earlier stimulus spending passed by a spend-happy Congress.

By some estimates, the stimulus spent anywhere from $92,000 up to $200,000 for each job it created. Then the government carelessly threw away more dollars from hardworking families trying to convince American taxpayers that it needs to spend this money.

The government spent $18 million to create recovery.gov, a website to track and explain the stimulus, which has been fraught with inaccuracies and misrepresentations. Meanwhile, outside of Washington, Colorado spent $247,000 of stimulus money on road signs to designate which construction projects were funded by the stimulus.

Road construction spending is at least a legitimate use for taxpayer dollars. Sadly, many of the projects supported by stimulus tax dollars have not been nearly as worthy.

A project to build a tunnel to protect turtles from oncoming traffic on a Florida highway has received $3.4 million in stimulus funds. The millions are, apparently, still not enough to completely finance the project.

The list of completely unnecessary spending goes on and on. But wasteful government spending isn’t new. So why should we care now? Because we are rapidly reaching a point where the overall health of our economy is threatened by the debt.

Today the majority of household finances are run by women and they understand, probably now more than ever, that spending cannot overtake earnings. Women are focused on kitchen-table economics, which a big reason why the economy is now at the top of the list of their concerns.

The federal government now spends a record $30,543 per household. The country recently reached $13 trillion in debt, accumulating the last trillion in the last 6 months alone. Since President Obama took office, the debt level has risen an average of $4.9 billion a day. The deficit is now approaching just over 10 percent of GDP, the same level seen in Greece.

Economists believe there is a connection between high debt and reduced economic growth. When a nation’s gross debt reaches 90% of its economy, it often loses about one percentage point of growth a year.

What do these numbers mean for families? When the debt rises and the economy slows, the number of jobs created plummets, which leads to less money coming into individual households. Americans can’t take this hit. Many women are now the family breadwinners because the recession has affected men disproportionately since the industries that have seen the most cutbacks mostly employ men. Families outright reject this reckless spending and irresponsible fiscal management.

We need to return America to the prudent spending levels of the 1980’s and 90’s when government spending was 20% of GDP. By doing this, we could balance the budget by 2012 and better prepare ourselves to deal with the future for ourselves and our families.

We need to support leaders who will be responsible with taxpayer dollars and not waste money on frivolous spending. Voters, especially women, are watching the decisions elected officials make in Congress and the way those decisions impact the economy and jobs.

We’ve been grapping with this issue as a nation for a long time. Ronald Reagan, in his 2nd Inaugural address 25 years ago, said “we have come to a turning point, a moment for hard decisions…If not us, who? And if not now, when?”

Reagan urged Americans to reach down deep inside themselves for the courage to make “the hard decisions” needed to break the back of the national debt. We are once again at a turning point. The liberal tax and spend social welfare policies of the EU countries have been proven bankrupt, literally.

This moment may not come again for a long time. Like their Revolutionary forefathers, American people of all political persuasions want to find a new way to solve the ancient problem of a bloated federal government. For our families and ultimately, our country, we have a responsibility to work together to stop this reckless government spending.

Penny Nance is CEO of Concerned Women for America, the nation’s largest public policy women’s group with 500,000 members. CWA joined the SpendingRevolt.com coalition to raise awareness of the out-of-control spending of the federal government.