News Release

Spratt Opening Statement at Hearing on the Recovery Act

July 14, 2010

WASHINGTON D.C. - House Budget Committee Chairman John Spratt (D-SC) made the following statement at a hearing on the Recovery Act.

We are here today for an update on the Recovery Act and our economy.

The baseline at which we begin is January 2009, the month prior to the passage of the Recovery Act. The economy was shrinking at an annualized rate of 5.4 percent rate. 779,000 jobs were lost in that one month alone, and over 2 million in the previous quarter. The deficit at that starting point was projected to be $1.3 trillion for fiscal year 2009.

Now, after adoption of the Recovery Act, and after eighteen months of other fiscal and monetary relief, the economy is in its third straight quarter of growth, and a net nearly 900,000 jobs have been created since January 2010.

Because of the economy, and the aggressive measures we took to deal with the worst recession since the Depression, the deficit rose $1.4 trillion for FY 2009, far more than we can sustain, but not substantially more than CBO foresaw for the year 2009. Most economists agree that it is counterproductive to try and balance the federal budget in the midst of a recession, but we have been taking steps to make sure the budget recovers as the economy recovers. We have made “Pay-As-You-Go” statutory, created a bipartisan Fiscal Commission, and approved in the House a discretionary spending cap for 2011 at a level that is $7 billion below the President’s comparable request.

This is the third hearing that this Committee has held to examine the state of the economy and the recovery. In June, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke testified that the Federal Reserve “anticipates that real gross domestic product will grow in the neighborhood of 3 1/2 percent over the course of 2010 as a whole and at a somewhat faster pace next year.” When I asked Chairman Bernanke whether TARP and the Recovery Act had been necessary to rescue the financial system and the economy, Chairman Bernanke replied “Certainly, we have averted what I think would have been, absent these interventions, an extraordinarily severe downturn, perhaps a great depression.”

Two weeks ago, we heard from a panel of economists, including Mark Zandi. Zandi stated that by his estimate the economy will grow nearly twice as fast over the course of 2010 as it would have fared without the Recovery Act. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the Recovery Act has contributed significantly to the economic turnaround, raising real GDP by 1.7 to 4.2 percentage points in the first quarter of 2010, and increasing employment by between 1.2 million and 2.8 million jobs in that quarter.


Yet, the economic recovery is not proceeding as fast and as steadily as we would like, and for too many Americans, jobs are still scarce and hard to find, and credit is still tight, and hard to get.

So we hold today’s hearing to examine the impact that the Recovery Act has already had on the economy, and to consider what impact the Recovery Act may yet have.

We are pleased today to have representatives from two Cabinet departments that have responsibility for considerable Recovery Act funding. First, we will hear from Secretary Tom Vilsack from the Department of Agriculture. We had originally been scheduled to hear from Energy Secretary Steven Chu, as well, but due to a last-minute scheduling issue, we will instead be hearing from Matt Rogers, Senior Advisor to Secretary Chu. We will hear testimony from Mr. Rogers after we hear Secretary Vilsack’s testimony and Members have had a chance to ask question of the Secretary. We hope to hear from both Administration witnesses in detail about the impact of the funding provisions and tax reductions contained in the Recovery Act.

Their testimony comes on a day when the White House Council of Economic Advisers is releasing a report showing that, as of the second quarter of 2010, the Recovery Act is responsible for saving or creating between 2.5 million and 3.6 million jobs.

After hearing from our Administration witnesses, we will then hear from economists from the Economic Policy Institute and from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

Before we turn to Secretary Vilsack for his testimony, let me recognize the ranking member, Mr. Ryan, for any opening statement he may wish to make.