published Thursday, January 29th, 2009

Tennessee: Wamp assails stimulus bill as bad policy


by Herman Wang

WASHINGTON — Rep. Zach Wamp, R-Tenn., said last year’s unpopular $700 billion Wall Street bailout serves as ample proof that government can’t be trusted with such massive sums of taxpayer money.

That’s why he voted against the $819 billion economic stimulus bill Wednesday.

“It’s just a bad idea with too much government growth,” Rep. Wamp said. “Going all the way back to last fall’s economic bailout, people have become agitated by Washington’s propensity to throw money at problems.”

Although all House Republicans voted against the bill, along with 11 Democrats, the package passed 244-188. The bill now moves to the Senate, which is likely to vote on it next week.

Rep. Wamp voted in favor of the Wall Street rescue plan after initially opposing it and said he has regretted his “yes” vote ever since.

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“It didn’t work, it ended up being wrong, and we weren’t told the truth,” he said. “The administration handled it terribly. That should teach us that the government is ill-equipped to spend ($819) billion.”

The stimulus package, drafted by Democratic leaders and supported by President Barack Obama, includes $607 billion in spending, largely on highway and school construction, Medicaid relief for states, electricity grids and other infrastructure.

It also includes $212 billion in tax cuts that are designed to court GOP votes but failed, with Republicans criticizing the measure as far too expensive and expansive.

Rep. Nathan Deal, R-Ga., voted “no” and said much of the bill involves spending on social programs.

“There could be a legitimate bill for a stimulus, but Republicans have always talked about the stimulative effect of tax cuts versus government spending,” he said. “It’s a philosophical divide between the parties.”

Rep. Lincoln Davis, D-Tenn., who voted “yes,” said the package will help repair the country’s infrastructure and create jobs.

“As a fiscal conservative, I will be working to make sure that the final version of this legislation does exactly as it was intended: to put money back in the pockets of ordinary Americans and into needed infrastructure developments that will put Americans and our country back to work,” he said.

According to estimates, Tennessee stood to gain about $2.8 billion from the stimulus package, while Georgia could get $4.7 billion.

But Rep. Wamp, a 2010 candidate for Tennessee governor, said the bill is bad policy, even if it helps the state.

“We all need to look after our states, but our state balances the budget with no help from Washington,” he said. “Our state can survive without all this spending from Washington.”

Rep. Wamp also said an amendment he and Rep. Davis sought to include $25 million for the ash spill cleanup at the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Kingston Fossil Plant likely will not be a part of the final bill. The congressmen said they sought the funding to ease the burden on ratepayers, but it was not supported by House leaders, who considered it an earmark.

“I’m not going to support the (stimulus) bill, so I’m not in a position to advocate anything be put in it,” Rep. Wamp said.

Rep. Davis, who also is mulling a gubernatorial run, said he would support the cleanup funding if it is included in other bills.

“Families affected by this accident need to know that they have the support of their representative,” he said.

Bruce Oppenheimer, a political science professor at Vanderbilt University, said the stimulus vote on party lines may become a gubernatorial election issue, depending on how well the package actually helps the economy.

“The irony is, (Rep. Wamp) was trying to put a piece of pork into the bill he was going to vote against,” Dr. Oppenheimer said, referring to the cleanup money. “Both Wamp and Davis were probably just trying to play to their constituency, but it’s interesting that they could be opposing candidates for governor.”

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Bender said...

This guy is a class act How many people asked him to vote against the initial Bailout? His own words demonstrate Washington is out of touch with reality.

January 29, 2009 at 5:52 a.m.
JoeLaFayette said...

Rep Wamp should be seeing to it that the bailout funds are all accounted for. He appears to be saying (in this article) that he didn't bother to follow up after his vote to make sure the law was implemented appropriately. Billions of our tax dollars are gone and he doesn't have the slightest idea of where they went to?! Where's his accountability? No wonder the economy is a disaster! This is welfare - Wamp's collecting a paycheck without doing the work.

January 29, 2009 at 12:02 p.m.
rolando said...

You are pointing at the wrong guy to blame for a lack of accountability, Joe. He is part of the minority party, remember? The one that voted 100% against this bill? The entire party?

Try blaming the other side of the aisle.

Well done, Congressman Wamp.

As for Dr Oppenheimer [no relation, I hope]...well...he IS a political science professor at a University here, after all. I think we all know where his sensibilities [and his politics] lie...

January 29, 2009 at 2:01 p.m.
thatguy said...

More party line governing only getting worse. I agree and encourage people to state their views and beliefs; I would also encourage Mr. Wamp and all congressmen that they should be a CONGRESSMAN first (for the people) and a party affiliate second. Most do the opposite, because they know as a country we forget and re-elect that same misleader.

Money put into the economy at any level can help stimulate growth to that economy if the money is spent in that economy. Some more than others – if you spend money on roads and bridges it adds money faster to the working men and women’s economies, if you put money into research those higher paid people must in turn buy a new car or home which will stimulate the economy but at a slower pace (lower tier trickle down effect).

So in reality assuming Presidents Obama’s stimulus package passes, both parties will take credit for the recovered economy. And nothing changes politically, and the working men and women have a much larger debt to pay off.

January 29, 2009 at 3:24 p.m.
rolando said...

Political parties are a good thing. It keeps both of them honest [well, relatively honest]. The time to worry is when they both get in cahoots and slap it to all of us...or when one overwhelms the other and stops all debate [read indepth review]. Again, as they are doing now.

Any call for unity between the two parties means that the majority tells the minority to shut up, stop listening to Limbaugh, FoxNews, et al and vote the way the majority wants since, after all, they won. THAT is no way to run this country -- we end up with exactly what we have...a leader who speaks to foreign leaders before he speaks to us. I wouldn't put it past him to poll foreign citizens to find out what he should do. Talk about not caring about the American people. Wow!

Each party has its own political philosophy -- this is no more apparent than this election cycle.

Rep Wamp is doing EXACTLY what he believes is best for the country; more than half of us feel the same way.

Assuming President Obama's stimulus passes AND WORKS, whose taxes do you suppose will pay those wages? Stimulus payments are ALWAYS a losing proposition because a huge chunk of the taxes stays in Washington, giving us ever diminishing returns, mortgaging our children and literally making them slaves of the government.

Besides, all the pro-illegal alien folks say the illegals are only taking the jobs lazy Americans won't do...and if those "lazy" Americans won't take construction jobs [as those same folks claim] they sure as H won't take hard jobs like building roads. Ergo, all jobs go to foreigners and their wages [our tax money] goes south -- literally.

January 29, 2009 at 5:37 p.m.
eyeontn said...

Looks as though Wamp may have a successor, he may finally be able to concentrate on what he's really got his eyes on:

http://eyeontn.com/?p=285

January 29, 2009 at 5:44 p.m.
thatguy said...

Or at least a vibrant supporter --- We all have ideas, some are good and some are #$@&$*$%%

January 29, 2009 at 5:51 p.m.
afhcarm said...

I don't know if this stimulus thing will work or not, but neither does Wamp. The only alternative the republics have offered is more tax cuts. We went thru 8 years of more tax cuts which benefited mostly the very people that led us into the mess we have now. Let's give the other guys a shot.

January 30, 2009 at 12:01 a.m.
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