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First, Do No Harm

Congressional Republicans were right to vote against the stimulus.

Feb 16, 2009, Vol. 14, No. 21 • By FRED BARNES
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Job creation? The problem is the jobs that might be generated by the bill don't match the jobs that have been lost. True, the $200 billion bailout of state governments might save jobs. But many states don't need a bailout. I talked to state treasurers from Indiana, Nebraska, and Mississippi last week. They said their states don't need the money. But they're likely to take it: approximately $6 billion for the three states.

A fair question is whether the economy actually requires stimulus. Large, across-the-board cuts would be nice--McCain wants to slash the corporate tax rate--but there's already plenty of stimulus in place. The drop in the price of gasoline is the equivalent of a massive tax cut geared toward the less wealthy. And the business cycle hasn't been repealed.

There's also the bank bailout. A second payment of $350 billion will soon be distributed with many billions more to follow. Nor is the Federal Reserve, having reduced interest rates to near zero, sitting on its hands. The Fed is buying up tens of billions in government-guaranteed mortgage securities and Treasury bonds and increasing the money supply.

Republicans understand the recession causes pain they must deal with. Extending unemployment benefits is necessary with the jobless rate rising to 7.6 percent. For those who lose their health insurance along with their job, a bonus benefit could be added to pay at least for catastrophic insurance. All this can be done for tens of billions, not the many hundreds demanded by Obama and Democrats.

Voting against the Obama tide was easy for conservative Republicans. But consider McCain's situation. By endorsing the Obama bill, he'd assure himself a prominent spot at the White House signing ceremony. The media would lovebomb him and declare the old straight-talking maverick alive and well. That's a lot to give up. But it can't match the joy of doing the right thing.

Fred Barnes is executive editor of THE WEEKLY STANDARD.