Breaking Down Stimulus Bill's Opposition

Barack Obama and the economic stimulus package
Barack Obama and the economic stimulus package, tax cuts, congress, capitol hill, economy, money, House, senate

The Republicans' biggest complaint about the stimulus bill is that it gives the Democrats an excuse to make government bigger. CBS News correspondent Wyatt Andrews reports that the examples are not hard to find.

If you are one of those taxpayers that doesn't want to spend $25 million on trails for ATVs, or $150 million for agricultural repairs (like beehives after a storm), then you'll understand why no Republicans supported the stimulus in the House -- and why most Republicans are trashing it in the Senate.

"This is about spending money we don't have for things we don't need," said Senator Tom Coburn, R-Okla.

Despite the President's lobbying for bipartisan support, Republicans complain their ideas are being ignored. They say the bill is too much "goodie bag" and not enough "stimulus."

It includes $650 million to help people switch their old TV signals to digital and $335 million to prevent sexually transmitted disease - a program House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D- Calif., defends because disease education creates jobs, too.

As Pelosi said on The Early Show: "And we have jobs across the board, not just for construction workers."

But Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., says almost one-fourth of the one-time stimulus will never, ever get cut. Fifteen billion dollars for Pell grants to help young students with college, and $26 billion for special education. Maybe that's all worthwhile, Cantor says. It's just not temporary.

"How much of this gets rolled back in two years?" Andrews asked.

"That's the problem. Every time a new program starts in Washington, it's very, very difficult to stop it," Cantor said.

And remember this an emergency bill the economy needs right now. President Obama said: "What we can't do is drag our feet or delay much longer."

But emergency bills aren't paid for with higher taxes or budget cuts - the stimulus is all borrowed money. And so anything Congress couldn't afford before -- $50 million to support the arts, $70 million to help people stop smoking -- has found its way into the stimulus now.

"When you say to the members of Congress 'this has to get done and it has to get done quickly,' it's unfortunately an opportunity for a lot of things to get slipped in," said Maya MacGuineas of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

Next week in the Senate, the size of the stimulus becomes the issue, with some Democrats wanting even more added to the package. And most Republican saying 'No, that if the President wants true bipartisan support, all that add-on spending has to go.'

  • Wyatt Andrews
    Wyatt Andrews

    Wyatt Andrews is a CBS News National Correspondent based in Washington D.C. He is responsible for tracking trends in politics, health care, energy, the environment and foreign affairs.