Coffman spokesman responds on rationale for voting against stimulus

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman’s spokesman, Tyler Q. Houlton, issued the following statement to the Colorado Independent on Thursday afternoon in response to the story “Coffman cites nonexistent CBO study as reason to vote against stimulus.”

“Regardless of how the Congressional Budget Office estimates have been changed or suppressed over the past few days, it does not alleviate the problems of the spending package. The fact is Congressional Democrats and President Obama have increased spending by $604 billion over the next 10 years with very little of it being spent this fiscal year. It is hard to fathom how appropriating spending packages for 2019 will help our economic crisis of today.”

When Coffman, a Republican, voted against the $819 billion stimulus bill, which passed the House Wednesday without a single Republican vote, he cited figures that have been widely circulated over the last week to bolster a contention that the massive appropriations would be spent too slowly to stimulate the moribund economy. The figures Coffman attributed to the Congressional Budget Office were part of a preliminary analysis of a portion of the stimulus that was leaked last week, not the final report the CBO issued Monday, which can be viewed here.

The final CBO report, which incorporated and updated the previous analysis, determined spending would reach the economy at roughly twice the rate Coffman and other Republicans have said was insufficient when pointing to the preliminary, partial estimates. In addition, the CBO report accounts for substantially more money reaching consumers this year and next as tax cuts.

Coffman certainly wasn’t alone characterizing the effect of the entire stimulus based on the incomplete estimate. On Monday, the same day the CBO released its actual report, the Wall Street Journal editorialized against the stimulus bill using the same figures:

The stimulus bill currently steaming through Congress looks like a legislative freight train, but given last week’s analysis by the Congressional Budget Office, it is more accurate to think of it as a time machine. That may be the only way to explain how spending on public works in 2011 and beyond will help the economy today.

According to Congressional Budget Office estimates, a mere $26 billion of the House stimulus bill’s $355 billion in new spending would actually be spent in the current fiscal year, and just $110 billion would be spent by the end of 2010. This is highly embarrassing given that Congress’s justification for passing this bill so urgently is to help the economy right now, if not sooner.

And the red Congressional faces must be very red indeed, because CBO’s analysis has since vanished into thin air after having been posted early last week on the Appropriations Committee Web site. Officially, the committee says this is because the estimates have been superseded as the legislation has moved through committee. No doubt.

Like Coffman’s spokesman, the WSJ said stimulus proponents were guilty of “suppressing the CBO analysis.” The editorial went one step further, saying Democrats “have derided it,” presumably because they didn’t like the conclusions drawn. Far from it — Democrats and budget officials pointed out that last week’s CBO analysis was incomplete, didn’t tell the whole story, and shouldn’t be used to prove a point it didn’t.

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