The Corner

Gregg, Cantor ‘Unimpressed’ With Obama’s Jobs Speech

In a speech at the Brookings Institution today, President Obama outlined a wide-ranging new jobs program focused on infrastructure investment and small-business initiatives. “It was nothing but ‘Stimulus 2,’” says Rep. Eric Cantor (R., Va.) to NRO. “Clearly the White House has taken the position that deficits don’t matter.”

Sen. Judd Gregg (R., N.H.), the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, tells us that he was “not impressed” with Obama’s remarks. “This concept that ‘TARP money’ can be used is a total fraud,” says Gregg. “It’s nothing more than political cover. There is no TARP money to use. TARP was authorized to draw down debt by $700 billion. They’ve drawn down about $600 billion, so theoretically there is $100 billion more they could draw down, but then they would have to issue more debt.”

Gregg is adamant that adding debt to support a massive expansion in government would be a mistake. Besides, he says, the law is clear: “Using these funds for stimulus projects is not legally allowed. The law is precise — I wrote it. The funds are meant to address systemic risk and financial crises. Building roads and giving dollars to local projects is not that. The money they want to use doesn’t exist.”

Agreeing with Cantor, Gregg adds that Obama’s program is another major stimulus package. “The last one took a huge hit on the deficit and debt,” says Gregg. “It just became ‘walking around money’ for appropriators in the House and Senate. According to Chairman Bernanke, we’re moving out of recession. I doubt that this proposal will help to lower unemployment. We’ll be well out of the recession by the time Congress acts. Instead of this measure, fiscal balance and solvency have to be brought back into the equation — not more federal dollars for green jobs or whatever the cause du jour is at the White House.”

Cantor adds that Obama’s plan misses the core ingredient of job creation: a strong marketplace. “The government is trying to create jobs that they like, rather than encouraging the market. How does increased government spending create an environment where investors, families, and businesses can count on federal fiscal responsibility? In the past we’ve seen government spending miss the mark by an incredible amount.”

Robert Costa — Robert Costa is National Review's Washington editor and a CNBC political analyst. He manages NR's Capitol Hill bureau and covers the White House, Congress, and national campaigns. ...

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