Wednesday, September 30, 2009

GUEST COLUMN: "It’s Time to Halt the Government’s Takeover of the Economy" by Rep. Turner

By Rep. Mike Turner (R, OH-03)

According to news accounts, the Treasury Department isn’t ruling out keeping the federal government’s bailout program going beyond its one-year authorization. This follows the president’s recent speech on expanding government control of financial institutions. What’s missing is a firm government exit strategy from its takeover of banks and auto manufacturers.

Ten months into the new Administration, the federal government is not only borrowing and spending unprecedented amounts of money, it is also pursuing a course of economic dominance. A September 14 story in The New York Times put it bluntly: “…the government is the nation’s biggest lender, insurer, automaker and guarantor against risk for investors large and small.”

Indeed, the Administration is actually seeking to grow its influence over the economy by advocating a government option health care plan. Interestingly, the president is justifying his push for national health care as a means to actually control federal spending. On September 13, he told CBS’s “60 Minutes,” ‘The problem I've got is that the only way I can get medium and long-term federal spending under control is if we do something about health care.’

One has to wonder how the president can claim spending $1 trillion more to take over health care is going to reduce the federal budget deficit. In fact, many Americans wonder why the Administration is spending money that we as a nation simply do not have. The president’s own budget overspends by $1.8 trillion in 2009 – nearly four times last year’s federal budget deficit.

The public has been told that government bailouts and the economic stimulus (which together pile on another $1.5 trillion in deficit spending) were necessary to save the economy and jobs. Washington’s control of General Motors and Chrysler has not stopped job losses within those companies and in some cases it has actually encouraged the curtailment of worker health benefits as we have witnessed with many former GM employees in Ohio. What’s more, the taxpayers will ultimately lose money from their $81 billion investment in Chrysler and General Motors according to a report released in mid-September by the Congressional Oversight Panel for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).

Since the passage of the economic stimulus in February, over 2.4 million jobs have been lost and the national employment rate has steadily risen to 9.7 percent - its highest level in a quarter century. Yet, Vice President Biden told The Wall Street Journal last week, “In my wildest dreams, I never thought it would work this well.”

I voted against the $700 billion bailout of our nation’s financial industry, and in February I also opposed the $800 billion economic stimulus. In each case, these bills were ill-considered, did not help those who’ve suffered the most due to job loss and home foreclosures, and lacked details as to how tax dollars would be spent. I also voted against the president’s $1.8 trillion deficit spending budget as well as the Administration’s Cap and Trade energy bill which burdens Ohio’s manufacturing base and fails to meet our energy needs.

In June, I introduced a constitutional amendment to protect our private enterprise system from government intrusion by prohibiting federal ownership of private corporations. The Preserving Capitalism in America Amendment, H.J. Res 57, has 103 cosponsors, nearly a quarter of the membership of the U.S. House.

As we approach the first anniversary of the passage of the federal bailout bill, it is unfortunate that the Administration continues to press for more control over our economy. It’s time for a government exit strategy.