The Mother of All Pork Bills
What's worse than fiscally irresponsible Republicans controlling taxpayer purse strings? Democratic super-majorities in both Houses controlling taxpayer purse strings. And President-Elect Obama is finding that bipartisan agreement is unlikely when it requires both sides to compromise their visions for what is good for the country:
The president-elect's efforts to win over Republicans -- in keeping with a campaign promise to end Washington gridlock -- ignited a backlash within his own party. Obama has dedicated 40% of the package to tax reductions, divided evenly between business and middle-class tax cuts. But Democratic leaders are dissatisfied and want more focus on direct spending, less on tax relief.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) told reporters Wednesday the package needed a single focus: "Jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs."
"It must create jobs immediately, and it must contribute to the long-term stability of our economy to continue to create jobs," she said.
Last Thursday, House Democrats proposed an $825 billion stimulus package that is shamefully laden with pork that does not appear to have much to do with job creation for the purposes of economic stimulation:
GOP lawmakers also balked at the thousands of individual projects designated for funding in the House plan. "Oh, my God," House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said to reporters. "My notes here say that I'm disappointed. I just can't tell you how shocked I am at what I'm seeing."
Acknowledging concerns about potential government waste, Congress is creating a Web site -- http://www.recovery.gov -- to allow the public to track stimulus spending and file complaints. Obey said about 60 percent of the spending portion would assist states, local governments and local nonprofit organizations in providing social services, and that most of the money would be spent based on funding formulas.
"No earmarks," the chairman asserted.
And yet looking at the House Bill, it appears to be more of the same borrow and spend that has gotten us into so much of our economic woes in the first place.
The House measure is far larger than lawmakers envisioned when the stimulus idea surfaced last fall and, as the recession shows signs of worsening, Democrats predict the price tag could grow to nearly $1 trillion before the bill reaches Obama's desk.
The Senate has yet to add their own "wish list" to the bill.
To fathom what "1 trillion" is like, Thomas Sowell put it into these terms: "one trillion seconds ago, humanity still hadn't figured out how to read or write yet."
Hugh Hewitt on his radio program brought attention to a new website, ReadtheStimulus.org, where you can read the entire 334 page bill in pdf format. The site also has a search function, so you can type in keywords and find (or not find) specific passages in the bill; such as a search for whether or not there's any mention of "nuclear power plants" (there isn't any). The site will also update with future versions of the bill, including what comes out of the Senate.
The president-elect is a hoops player. The House proposal amounts to the greatest head fake ever. He had many of us believing that the stimulus package would actually embody a centrist approach, using proven methods of economic growth based in tax cuts and real infrastructure improvements like nuclear power plant construction.
The impacts on the deficit are chronicled by Heritage's Conn Carroll, but the obvious reality is that this is a bill from the far left side of a largely left-leaning House leadership.
Either the president-elect demands it be overhauled in the Senate or we will know in the first month just how far to the left the new president really is on matters domestic. At least then we can put away the idea that he is about transforming politics. Pork and payoffs by any other name are still pork and payoffs.
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