Texas Gov. Rick Perry has been among the loudest opponents of the proposed $900 billion stimulus bill being debated right now in the Senate. He is also one of the first to be lining up for funds.
In his incisive op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal in December, Perry gave a textbook fiscally conservative argument against using such an intractable profusion of federal funds to solve the country’s economic problems.
"In the process, the federal government is not only burying future generations under mountains of debt," wrote Perry. "It is also taking our country in a very dangerous direction -- toward a ‘bailout mentality’ where we look to government rather than ourselves for solutions." His words echoed the opinions of many everyday people in his party.
Yet he has been quoted as saying that if the bill indeed passes, he will accept the money.
Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, on the other hand, has never been shy about how much he believes Dallas could use the money.
In December, he and a group of other U.S. mayors from 4,427 cities put together a wish-list for their cities totaling $73 billion -- most of it in the form of infrastructure projects. The bill for Dallas’ requests totaled $2 billion. If you’re going to make a Christmas list, might as well ask for it all and increase the likelihood that you’ll get at least a lot of good stuff.
For Texans, the bill would:
• Create or save 285,700 jobs over the next two years.
• Provide a "Making Work Pay" tax cut of up to $1,000 for 8,170,000 workers and their families.
• Make 346,000 families eligible for a new American Opportunity Tax Credit to make college affordable.
• Offer an additional $100 per month in unemployment insurance benefits to 677,000 workers in Texas who have lost their jobs in this recession, and providing extended unemployment benefits to an additional 125,000 laid-off workers.
• Provide funding sufficient to modernize at least 937 schools in Texas so our children have the labs, classrooms and libraries they need to compete in the 21st century economy.
The White House has delineated the benefits of the stimulus bill state-by-state on its Web site for public perusal to help gain support, and possibly dim the reality of the unprecedented debt its passage would incur for Americans.
Mayor Leppert might understandably have to be more vocal about needing funds. In a recent interview he told Reuters that he worried funds would end up plugging holes in state budgets instead of being spent on job-creating efforts such as infrastructure projects.
"If we take these dollars ... and we put it in for cities or states simply to make budget shortfalls, we're in the same position next year as we were last year," he said.
According to the New York Times, the senate hopes to discuss moving the debate toward a conclusion Friday.
Writer and journalist Holly LaFon is an avid international affairs follower and graduate of Austin College, and has written and worked for numerous Dallas area publications, including D Magazine. firstname.lastname@example.org