OUR OPINION: The stimulus package arrives

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

Rep. Charlie Melancon of Napoleonville expressed the sentiment of many voters when the Obama administration stimulus bill was passed last week.

Melancon, a Democrat, was reported saying he could understand why some people, including House Republicans, were against the giant government spending package.

Before he cast the only Louisiana House vote for the bill, Melancon said, “What I don’t understand are people like Rush Limbaugh saying he hopes this president won’t succeed.”

Truth be known, only a wooden statue could not find some fault with the $790 billion package.

The big knock on the bill is that it includes more stimulus for Democratic reform programs than job creation through avenues such as infrastructure improvements for which it was touted.

This can certainly be seen in the $3.8 billion piece of pie coming to Louisiana.

The state will receive $430 million for roads and bridges to help the state catch up on its $1 billion plus backlog of roadwork that needs to be done, but only $77 million to jump start public transit systems that if developed would take traffic off overcrowded roads.

Louisiana is to receive about $43 million for wastewater treatment plant improvements, but Ascension Parish alone needs around $50 million to build a treatment plant.

Yet, Louisiana will receive $1.7 billion for Medicaid programs.

And more than $1.2 billion for education, food, special education and disadvantaged children programs.

The plan even provides $130 million to help the state balance its projected budget deficit, which hardly qualifies as either an infrastructure or a social program.

We believe the social programs are needed due to years of cutbacks during the Bush administration, but we are apprehensive about whether they will help create jobs and bring the economy back as part of a stimulus package.

We hope the Obama plan works,  as do the millions of Americans who voted for him.  We’re certainly willing to give the program a chance. The President has been astonishingly successful leading Congress to pass innovative legislation his first month in office. Historically, early success by Presidents and state governors with their legislative programs are indicative of successful terms in office.

Rep. Melancon, a Blue Dog conservative Democrat, personally felt little choice but to vote for the bill given the dour state of the economy. If the President’s plan to revive the economy fails, all Americans will fail as well, and all America will suffer, he said.

We have another reason for wanting the stimulus package to be successful.

We would love to see if Mr. Limbaugh knows how to eat crow.