Stimulus Fireworks

By Jennifer Parker

Feb 1, 2009 11:32am

During our economic panel today, sparks flew between Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., and Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., over tax cuts versus spending in the stimulus plan.

Franks argued some of the spending in the $819-billion stimulus bill passed in the House Wednesday is stimulative. DeMint argued taxpayers would be better off with more tax cuts.

Here was some of their heated exchange:

    REP. BARNEY FRANK: The notion that everything is solved by a tax cut, of course there are sensible tax policies you could have.  But there are public needs we have in this society…

    SEN. JIM DEMINT:  Sure.

    FRANK:  … that cannot be accomplished by a tax cut.  No tax cut builds a road.  No tax cut puts a cop on the street.  No tax cut educates a child in — in the way that it ought to be done. So this — only tax cuts, at a time when I think we have a deficiency in some areas that are important for the quality of our life is a big disagreement.

     DEMINT:  But, George, we — we have programs.  I mean, we’re reauthorizing our highway bill this year.

     FRANK:  At too low a level.

     DEMINT:  And — well — well, let’s talk about making it a higher level, but let’s don’t say it’s a stimulus when it’s a government spending plan.  And all of these things, the needs in our society,

education, these are things we debate every year.

     FRANK:  Spending can be stimulus.  I don’t understand what you think stimulus is.

     DEMINT:  But this is the largest spending bill in history, and we’re trying to call it a stimulus when it’s just doing the things that…

     FRANK:  Well, let me tell you what I think is the largest…

     DEMINT:  … you wanted to do anyway.

     FRANK:  The largest spending bill in history is going to turn out to be the war in Iraq.  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 — 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.

Who do you agree with?

–George Stephanopoulos

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