During our economic panel today, sparks flew between Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., and Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., over tax cuts versus spending in the stimulus plan.
Franks argued some of the spending in the $819-billion stimulus bill passed in the House Wednesday is stimulative. DeMint argued taxpayers would be better off with more tax cuts.
Here was some of their heated exchange:
REP. BARNEY FRANK: The notion that everything is solved by a tax cut, of course there are sensible tax policies you could have. But there are public needs we have in this society...
SEN. JIM DEMINT: Sure.
FRANK: ... that cannot be accomplished by a tax cut. No tax cut builds a road. No tax cut puts a cop on the street. No tax cut educates a child in -- in the way that it ought to be done. So this -- only tax cuts, at a time when I think we have a deficiency in some areas that are important for the quality of our life is a big disagreement.
DEMINT: But, George, we -- we have programs. I mean, we're reauthorizing our highway bill this year.
FRANK: At too low a level.
DEMINT: And -- well -- well, let's talk about making it a higher level, but let's don't say it's a stimulus when it's a government spending plan. And all of these things, the needs in our society,
education, these are things we debate every year.
FRANK: Spending can be stimulus. I don't understand what you think stimulus is.
DEMINT: But this is the largest spending bill in history, and we're trying to call it a stimulus when it's just doing the things that...
FRANK: Well, let me tell you what I think is the largest...
DEMINT: ... you wanted to do anyway.
FRANK: The largest spending bill in history is going to turn out to be the war in Iraq. And one of the things, if we're going to talk
about spending, I don't -- I have a problem when we leave out that extraordinarily expensive, damaging war in Iraq, which has caused much more harm than good, in my judgment.
And I don't understand why, from some of my conservative friends, building a road, building a school, helping somebody get health care, that's -- that's wasteful spending, but that war in Iraq, which is
going to cost us over $1 trillion before we're through -- yes, I wish we hadn't have done that. We'd have been in a lot better shape fiscally.
Who do you agree with?