The Austin Chronicle

Doggett Refutes McCaul Op-Ed

By Lee Nichols, March 13, 2009, News

The battle over the Obama stimulus package rages on, now down at the state level. But before it could get there, of course, it had to get through Congress. The split on the bill was Democrats vs. Republicans, and that was reflected in the Austin delegation.

District 10's Michael McCaul, in an op-ed published in both the Austin American-States­man and Houston Chronicle, assailed the bill as a "Trojan horse for billions of dollars in pork-barrel spending" and "one giant earmark." District 25's Lloyd Doggett, on the other hand, told us last week that he viewed the bill as an "imperfect but responsible response" to our nation's troubled economy and refuted some of the McCaul op-ed's main points.

While McCaul has insisted that the GOP had "an alternative plan that I supported, but to which the Democrats gave little consideration," Doggett counters that "their only alternatives, really, are more of the same failed policies of the last eight years."

"One has to look at: What are the benefits?" Doggett said. "What does this mean in Central Texas? ... What is it that they were voting against? Well, I begin with what I put into it personally that wasn't in there originally: a higher-education tax credit. There is not a family living within the boundaries of Austin Community College that cannot, in each of the next two years, get all of their tuition and textbooks paid for to go to ACC. ... If your family makes less than $160,000, you're going to get $2,500, which will cover the tuition and textbooks and instructional materials. The same holds true applying to someone going to UT or Texas State or somewhere else; it's just that we don't cover all of it."

Doggett also took a swipe at McCaul's environmental creds – the Republican has made much of sponsoring legislation promoting green schools but overall gets poor marks from enviro groups. "I notice that various Republican members like to claim that they are for various forms of green energy. They may not be for the environment, but they are for environmental technology. A central part of this package ... is focusing on green job creation, recognizing especially that in Central Texas, whether it's that battery consortium that they're trying to get, whether it's plug-in hybrid vehicles ... there is a tremendous amount of money that flows directly and indirectly ... that is there to stimulate a move toward a carbon-free economy."

A key point to the editorial: McCaul's claim that "The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says that, long-term, the stimulus will do more harm than good."

"The CBO said if we have this much debt added, over the long run, it will have the tendency to crowd out private capital and have a negative effect," Doggett replied. "What is not pointed out is that they said, over the short run, that it will increase growth and increase employment. In other words, it will help us get out of the mess Republicans have gotten us in, but over the long run, we've got to face the deficits being created and inherited from the Bush administration."

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