If you watch nothing else on the Interwebs today, make it THIS!
If you watch nothing else on the Interwebs today, make it THIS!
Even Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio, who made battling earmarks a cornerstone of his Congressional career since his election in 1990, said he would not have predicted that Congress could kick the habit.
“Think of this fight we have had for 20 years,” Mr. Boehner said in a recent interview. “If somebody would have asked me, ‘Will you ever get there?’ I would have had my doubts.”
But through a confluence of events, Mr. Boehner and the rest of the anti-earmark crowd did get there; the impact of the decision by leaders of the House and the Senate to ban earmarks for at least the next two years is already being felt.
When House Republicans were searching for cuts to offer Senate Democrats as part of a temporary spending plan to avert a government shutdown, they were able to reach into accounts set aside for earmarks and find nearly $2.8 billion that would have previously gone to water projects, transit programs and construction programs. No earmarks, no need for that money, and the threat of an imminent shutdown was eased.
Lawmakers said the absence of earmarks also allowed for a more freewheeling debate on the House floor during consideration of the Republican plan to slash $61 billion from this year’s budget since Democrats and Republicans were not caught up in protecting the special provisions they had worked so hard to tuck into the spending bill.
ACTUAL change you can believe in. Boehner’s Congress has already shown to be a better steward of our money than every Congress in a generation before.
With deficits almost more than twice the total amount of the annual federal budget the year the president graduated from high school, you’d think Congress would get the message that it needs to hold the line on federal spending.
Not just that, voters across the country voted out big-spending Democrats and voted in Republicans who promised to cut the size and cost of the federal government. (Well, some Democrats won election sounding like Republicans.) Maybe Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Mount Crumpit) thinks this sentiment doesn’t apply to him because he survived an electoral challenge this year (guess he’s discounting the millions he and his union allies paid to demonize and discredit his opponent). The other day, he “dropped on his colleagues a 1,924-page, $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill for fiscal 2011 that no one but a few Appropriators have read, if even they have“:
The last-minute omnibus should also offend Senators who claim to have heard the voters on November 2. This jam-job is a substitute for the 12 individual spending bills that Congress was supposed to have passed during the summer. But for the first time in modern memory, Democrats never got around to passing a budget outline, much less specific spending bills. So now they want to rush one giant bill into law when no one is paying attention.
Rather than pass a simple “continuing resolution” to fund government operations through early 2011, Harry Reid & Co. decided to ignore the backlash against fiscal profligacy and let their pork barons run wild. The result is an orgy of earmarks, rolled out two weeks after most Senate Republicans and seven Senate Democrats voted for a temporary earmark moratorium. (more…)
Today, we learned that the Tea Party doesn’t need to elect its candidates to advance its agenda. When Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, in the words of Politico’s Manu Raju, “stunned official Washington on Monday by saying he would support a two-year ban on the pet projects“, it was the statement heard round the blogosphere, resounding across the Beltway. This shrewd politician could read the tea leaves.
This former champion of earmarks was deft in explaining his change of heart (some have called it a flip-flop or “about-face“). He claims to “know the good that has come from the projects I have helped support throughout my state” and refuses to apologize for them:
But there is simply no doubt that the abuse of this practice has caused Americans to view it as a symbol of the waste and the out-of-control spending that every Republican in Washington is determined to fight. And unless people like me show the American people that we’re willing to follow through on small or even symbolic things, we risk losing them on our broader efforts to cut spending and rein in government.
That’s why today I am announcing that I will join the Republican Leadership in the House in support of a moratorium on earmarks in the 112th Congress.
“Behind this principled sounding explanation,” Powerline’s Paul Mirengoff writes
. . . lie solid pragmatic considerations. For one thing, McConnell presumably does not wish to face, or see members of caucus face, strong Tea Party opposition in primaries over the next few cycles.
More fundamentally, McConnell presumably does not want a schism develop between the leadership and the Tea Party faction of his caucus over an issue that is mostly symbolic. Indeed, if McConnell can navigate his way through this issue, there may be no schism.
Read the whole thing. What is significant is that McConnell recognizes that what political benefit might once have come from earmarks has long since evaporated with the growing public concern about spendthrift politicians in our nation’s capital. A small government consensus continues to emerge.
The Tea Party has helped make it good politics to oppose the pork-barrel politicians which incumbents once thought essential to survival.
On Friday, I e-mailed some right-of-center bloggers with an idea:
I had a brainstorm yesterday on something we libertarian-leaning bloggers could do to make sure the 112th Congress does not repeat the mistakes of past Republican Congresses. As you may know, the ethically-challenged,earmark-loving Jerry Lewis (the Congressman not the funnyman) is the Ranking Minority Member of the House Appropriations Committee which means he’ll soon become Chairman.
Unless we stop him.
I thought this was a project which Glenn (Reynolds) and Michelle (Malkin) might embrace. Well, before I even got the project off the ground, seems that Tennessee-based blogger is already on board.
No chairmanship is more important than that of the House Appropriations Committee, which controls federal outlays. More than anything else, voters want Washington to stop irresponsible federal spending and rein in spiraling national debt, but returning sanity to the federal budget cannot be achieved without a new Appropriations panel head. As former Reader’s Digest Editor-in-Chief Kenneth Y. Tomlinson writes elsewhere in Monday’s Examiner, Boehner’s choice is stark and simple. It would be a horrible mistake to give the nod to either Rep. Jerry Lewis of California or Rep. Hal Rogers of Kentucky. Lewis and Rogers are both Old Bull Republicans who love earmarks and pork barrel politics. Appointing either would split the House GOP caucus and spark a revolt among conservatives who have been fighting earmarks for years.
I grant that the incoming Speaker has a tough task ahead of him. It won’t be easy to tell a long-serving member of his caucus who have long salivated over chairing this committee that he’s not eligible for the prize he believes is rightfully us. But, the difficulty of turning down these Republican porker will be outweighed the by rewards he reaps from the grassroots, particularly the Tea Party.
By refusing to defer to seniority and instead appointing a true fiscal conservative to helm this committee, Boehner would send a signal that he understands the ideas which fueled Republican victories across the country. At the same time, he’d be taking a step toward cutting out-of-control Washington spending.
In a few short hours, Arizona Republican voters will do voters in Arizona’s Fifth Congressional District did four years ago, end the career of one of the biggest buffoons in American politics: J.D. Hayworth. This man comes straight from liberal central casting of what a conservative is like. He may have the right (in our opinion) views on certain issues, but he expresses them in ways which invite ridicule.
And he just looks stupid, like the football player who took a few too many hits which impaired his cognitive abilities.
He’s like Foghorn Leghorn, but without the cunning.
That said, the folks at CNN were bending over backwards to portray in a favorable light the man who is attempting to deprive John McCain of the Republican nomination for the Arizona Senate seat. Ol’ Jessica Yellin lamented how the Republican incumbent had described the former Congressman as a “huckster”, hinting a nasty campaign by the 2008 GOP standard bearer. She didn’t mention how the once and future talk show host recorded infomercials where he advised people how they could get “free money” from the government.
Nor did she note how he was a champion of pork-barrel politics. Now, I know there are many reasons for conservatives to be upset with John McCain, but, in this of all years, to have a former politician with a record to the four-term incumbent’s left on spending issues try to run as the conservative choice is really rich. I mean, on earmarks at least, McCain has held true to conservative principles, in both rhetoric — and practice.
Well, Hayworth did get the Republican incumbent to spend $20 million to hold the seat. Interesting. No wonder Yellin was flacking for the right-wing buffoon. That’s $20 million that could have helped Republicans defeat entrenched Democratic incumbents.
NB: Tweaked the post to correct a typo and improve the flow.
Want to know what we as Americans are facing in our near future? All you need to do is follow the news out of Greece.
ATHENS, Greece (AP) – Rioting over harsh austerity measures left three people dead in a torched Athens bank and clouds of tear gas drifting past parliament, in an outburst of anger that underlined the long and difficult struggle Greece faces to stick with painful cutbacks that come with an international bailout.
The deaths were the first during a protest in Greece in nearly 20 years.
Fear that the bailout won’t stop the debt crisis from spreading to other financially troubled EU countries like Portugal and Spain intensified amid the violence Wednesday, as credit ratings agency Moody’s put Portugal on watch for a possible downgrade.
The euro sank, dipping below $1.29 for the first time in over a year, on fears of crisis contagion and concerns that political upheaval might keep Greece from keeping its end of the bailout bargain.
Greece faces a May 19 due date on debt it says it can’t repay without the help. The new government cutbacks, which slash salaries and pensions for civil servants and hike consumer taxes, are being imposed as condition of getting a euro110 billion ($142.16 billion) package of rescue loans from the International Monetary Fund and the other 15 European Union countries that use the euro as their currency.
Many Greeks realize some cutbacks are necessary to pull their country, which has a massive debt of euro300 billion ($387.72 billion), back from the brink of default, and reaction until now had been relatively muted by Greece’s volatile standards. But with people beginning to feel the pain of austerity measures, anger boiled over.
Greece and the entire EU are at a dangerous tipping point and I sincerely believe the bottom is about to drop out of the world economy in a way that will make 2008 look like an economic boom. Mark my words.
The United States Government has enabled the public sector to the point that its salaries and benefits dwarf the private sector. That is dangerous. Our peaceful and classy public sector unions, like SEIU, will take to the streets in a heartbeat if a dime is dared to be taken from them.
Mark my words. My friends, we are witnessing The Fourth Turning.
This ASSociated Press story is mindboggling. Not only because of the content, but because the AP writer was allowed to write it and it was published. I guess sometimes the Kremlin does allow the truth to leak out. I have to wonder why…
Anyway, if you think the economy is good because of Wall Street…. think again, mate.
The U-3 unemployment figure of 9.7% is a palatable gauge of unemployment designed to make Wall Street happy, or so you would think. Looking at the U-3 numbers it becomes obvious that the real bull market is not in equities, but in unemployment (see chart below).
However, the real unemployment rate, even by the standards of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is much higher. The U-6 unemployment number, as the real data is called, is at 17.5%, within 0.5% of its all-time high. This figure includes discouraged workers who’ve stopped looking, marginally attached workers, and workers that are forced to work part-time because full-time jobs are not available.
The post 2007 recession has eliminated 8.4 million jobs and rendered 15.7 million American’s jobless.
The mere fact that the palatable version of the unemployment rate has remained at 9.7% for three straight months, has Wall Street cheering.
Before chiming in, consider what it will take to simply get back to a normal unemployment rate of 5%. This is mindboggling.
The current labor force of 154 million will increase by about 1.8 million over each of the next five years because of ‘newbies’ entering the job market. By 2014, the labor force will be around 163 million. A 5% U-3 (not U-6) unemployment rate would equate to 8.15 million workers without a job.
7.55 million jobs will have to be created to reduce the number of job-less workers from today’s 15.7 million to 8.15 million. To accomplish this, there would have to be 125,833 jobs created each and every month over the next five years with no jobs lost.
The average monthly job growth over the past 10 years has been about 50,000. The average monthly job growth over the past 20 years has been about 90,000. Keep in mind that the 1990 – 2010 timeframe hosted the biggest bull market and economic expansion in history.
It is worth repeating: 7.55 million jobs will have to be created to reduce the number of job-less workers from today’s 15.7 million to 8.15 million. To accomplish this, there would have to be 125,833 jobs created each and every month over the next five years with no jobs lost.
Reagan would have cut taxes and eased regulations on small and medium-sized businesses — the mainstay of American middle class jobs. What does Obama do to the middle class? Borrows against our future, taxes us into oblivion with hidden healthcare taxes and higher premiums and increases the power of the EPA to regulate every part of an individual and business’ comings and goings.
Barry — that ain’t gonna spur 126,000 jobs a month, I assure you. Folks we are in some serious shit. And it sure the hell isn’t Bush’s fault.
ZERO cheers for the Senate’s newest
member spendthrift pig! After only 18 days in office, Senator Scott Brown has already sided with fellow New England Republicans embarrassments Susan Collins and Olympia Snow (along, this time, with pork-lover Kit Bond of Missouri) in voting to saddle us with yet another $15,000,000,000 in deficit spending.
That bloom is quickly fading.
For a man who was swept into office based on his self-described distaste for an out-of-control government recklessly spending our money, he is off to a very, VERY bad start.
For my part, I am looking right now at the thank-you letter I received just this week from Senator Brown for the donation I made to his campaign. I have choice words for him and will be formulating a reply over the next couple days.
-Nick (ColoradoPatriot, from HQ)
UPDATE My apologies. In my haste, I had missed that another Republican embarrassment George Voinovich is also responsible for the boondoggle with his “Yea” vote.
And by the way, YES, I prefer Brown to having Coakley in his stead. By now, Stalinized Health Care would already be the law of the land without him. And YES, I realize that his election was a shot across the bow at the socialist Democractic party and thier overreaches, and so in a sense he has already served that purpose (and nobly). But the rose-colored days ended on the day he was elected and he now has to be held responsible for how he performs his duties (sound familiar?). I treat him no better or worse than I do with the other robber-barons of the Republican party (see links in my original post above to see historical proof of this). It is a greater let-down considering I donated to him because of certain things that are still posted on his campaign website:
Why I’m Running… I want to ensure that we leave them an America that is financially stronger and independent: minus a national debt that we can never repay.
I have been a fiscal watchdog in the state legislature fighting bigger government, higher taxes and wasteful spending.
These proclamations, now can clearly be seen in practice to have been only campaign rhetoric. And we’re the hypocrites the Lefties who troll our Comments section say we are if we don’t shine an especially harsh the light on the ones we support when they let us down.
The first candidate we endorsed in the 2010 election cycle, Matthew Berry, is on a tear against his Democratic opponent, Jim Moran, quite possibly one of the most corrupt men in Congress.
Old Dominion Watchdog, whose mission it is “to investigate and inform the public about waste, fraud, abuse, ethical questions and safety concerns involving the use of taxpayer dollars,” confirmed Matthew’s allegations against the 10-term Democrat. “[M]ore than 20 percent of Moran’s $396,952 in donations last year” came from “political action committees and lobbyists of companies to whom he’s directed earmarks”:
In total, Moran has received $82,700 total from these committees and individuals, according to Federal Election Commission reports. MobilVox, Inc. tops the list of donors, contributing $8,300 to Moran and receiving a $2 million earmark.
Berry is also correct that Moran requested earmarks for donors totaling more than $50 million. The largest earmark requests were $3 million each, requested for EM Solutions, Inc., Argon ST and DDL Omni Engineering. All of the earmarks given to donors of Moran were defense appropriations.
Despite these takings, Moran had the gall to criticize the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission. The career politician claimed the decision would “allow corporations to drown out the voices of average Americans.” And Berry was quick to call Moran’s rhetora smokescreen hiding his support of lobbyists and special interest:
Given that Jim Moran funds his campaigns in large part through donations from executives, political action committees and lobbyists of companies to which he directs earmarks, it takes true chutzpah for him to criticize the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on the grounds that it will allow corporations to drown out the voices of average Americans.
In Jim Moran’s office, corporations drowned out the voices of average Americans long ago. If Jim Moran were truly concerned about the corrupting influence of corporate money, he would immediately announce that he will stop requesting earmarks on behalf of his campaign contributors.
If the election for the U.S. Senate seat for California next fall is waged on party identification, Barbara Boxer, the all-but-certain Democratic nominee, will win. If, however, it is waged on her record in the Senate, her ideological extremism and her responsiveness (er, lack thereof) to her constituents, the Golden State will send a Republican to represent it in the United States Senate for the first time since voters rejected the appointed Senator John Seymour, now nearly 18 years ago.
Simply put, after 17 years in the Senate, Ma’am hasn’t done much for the Golden State nor does she return here regularly to meet with her constituents and listen to our concerns.
As we learn the full details of the payoffs Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Mt. Crumpit) made with our tax dollars to various states to secure the votes of their respective Senators, we note one state severely short-changed, the state with the biggest population and almost the lowest rate of employment, the very state represented by the most unable Barbara Boxer in the United States Senate. Our state is ailing, its coffers depleted and our Democratic Senator can’t deliver in an overwhelmingly Democratic Senate.
While “Nebraska’s unemployment rate dropped to 4.5 percent in November,” roughly a third the rate in the Golden State, the Senate bill showers Ben Nelson’s bailiwick with goodies, but doesn’t offer much of anything special for Barbara Boxer’s backyard. (more…)
As Senator Harry Reid (D-Mt. Crumpit) rammed the Democrats’ health care overhaul legislation through the Senate, many conservative bloggers, pundits and even the New York Times reported the various payoffs to certain Senators to secure their votes. Now, some bloggers, pundits and policy wonks (having the time the average Americans do not) have been scrutinizing the actual text of the bills which have cleared the House and Senate to find them stuffed with payoffs to various special interests favored by the Democratic Party as well as provisions of dubious constitutional merit.
And they’re pointing out the coercive nature of the bill itself, stipulating what the soon-to-be “mandatory insurance must cover,” as well as its costs and our penalties for failing to comply with that mandate. Yep, soon, we’ll have government telling us what kind of insurance we should have. And if our income is high enough, we won’t be able to comply by buying a cheaper plan offering only catastrophic coverage. Young people who would rather save up for a house or a car or whatever they believe would best serve their personal interests and professional goals, will soon be forced to spend more on insurance offering benefits they don’t need and likely won’t use.
The nanny state provisions of the legislation are just the start of its problems. The House bill, for example, includes generous payoffs to trial lawyers who have been generous in rewarding Democrats with campaign cash:
the Democratic majority in Congress has included multiple trial lawyer earmarks in the House version of Obamacare. Section 257 authorizes state attorneys general to sue companies that violate any federal health care provision and to delegate the work of such suits to class-action plaintiffs’ firms. Another trial lawyer earmark in the bill pays states not to enact caps on attorneys’ fees or lawsuit settlements.
Why can’t congressional Democrats let the various states decide to whom they delegate the work of enforcement? Clearly, Democrats want to steer work to firms which support their candidates, increasing their income so they can keep paying off supportive politicians. (more…)
During the campaign, Barack Obama promised to rein in earmarks. He didn’t go as far as did his Republican rival who “pledged to eliminate earmarks and ‘veto every earmark pork-barrel bill,’” but in first debate, he did agreeing with John McCain “that the earmarks process has been abused” and vowed to clean up the process:
Absolutely, we need earmark reform. And when I’m president, I will go line by line to make sure that we are not spending money unwisely.
Items were inserted into the bill by the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, to get or keep the support of various lawmakers. He needs support from all 60 members of his caucus to overcome a Republican filibuster and pass the bill by his self-imposed Christmas deadline. . . . .
Another item in the package would increase Medicare payments to hospitals and doctors in any state where at least 50 percent of the counties are “frontier counties,” defined as those having a population density less than six people per square mile. . . .
Another provision would give $100 million to an unnamed “health care facility” affiliated with an academic health center at a public research university in a state where there is only one public medical and dental school.
Kudos to the Times for pointing out that Reid set the Christmas deadline. And for reporting these unusual expenditures. These earmarks may lack the specificity of the kind in which Congress specializes, but not to worry, Harry Reid’s Senate has passed thousands of the old-fashioned kind:
Last weekend, the Senate passed an omnibus spending bill that contained 5,224 disclosed earmarks worth $3.9 billion, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense. Then this past Saturday morning, the Senate passed a Defense spending bill for fiscal 2010 that included 1,720 disclosed earmarks worth $4.2 billion.
Wonder if Obama will be going line by line through those 6,944 earmarks to make sure the federal government is not spending money unwisely.
Mea culpa for having taken so long to post this. I’m sure you’re all dying to see how the Shameful Six fared this week at the trough.
Well, the vote on the actual
embarrassment budget was technically a voice-vote, so nobody would formally have to go “on record” as having voted for it (ah, the integrity of our elected representatives, matched only by the president who found time to hold a ceremony for the ladies on the same day but ducked away out of sight to put pen to paper to use your tax dollars, but I digress…).
The real vote was on cloture to move the question in the first place. If a Senator wanted to stop this piggish legislation, this is where he’d have done it. And did our half-dozen redeem themselves?
Sen Richard Shelby (R-Alabama): Yea
Sen Kit Bond (R-Missouri): Yea
Sen Thad Cochran (R-Mississippi): Yea
Sen Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska): Yea
Sen James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma): Nay
Sen Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky): Nay
Senators Shelby, Bond, Cochran, and Murkowski should be ashamed of themselves. If they’re not, their constituents should contact them to let them know how ashamed they are of them.
Oh, but there’s more! Even other embarrassing “Republican” Senators voted for this monster:
Fear not, budget hawks! We have the following Democrats on our side (all voting Nay):
Sen Evan Bayh (Indiana)
Sen Russ Feingold (Wisconsin)
Sen Claire McCaskill (Missouri)
Just think…a couple more Decent Democrats, and we could have had a victory for responsible government. These three deserve our thanks and should be commended for going against Harry Reid and President Obama and their shameful and irresponsible use of our money. The eight “Republicans” who voted Yea should find other work.
Who needs a drink?
-Nick (Colorado Patriot) from HQ
I know it will make The Detractors squirm, but I’m going to do something that, according to their caricatures of us we’re not supposed to do (that’s twice this weekend): Criticize Republicans.
If you follow this link to the Taxpayers for Common Sense’s spreadsheet of the latest markups to the 2009 Budget, you’ll find a comprehensive list of all earmarks (over 9000 at lastest count). There are tabs broken down by Congressmen, Senators, and by bill (with each department called out).
The count seems to be going through revisions, and they’re now up to Version 3. If you want to be kept up-to-date, keep an eye on the group’s homepage and look for the link to the most recent earmarks post. It’ll be under “Latest News”.
After Byrd (natch), the greatest porker in the Senate is none other than Republican Richard Shelby of Alabama, and after him, Republican Kit Bond of Missouri. Then comes DiFi. But then it’s back to Thad Cochran (R-Mississippi) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), and “Leader” Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) also contribute to the embarrassment of a Republican party that still hasn’t learned the lesson by also appearing in the Top 10. WTF?
For those who are not as mathematically adept as I, that’s SIX out of the Top TEN! Together, these Republicans account for $454,404,466 in earmarks (that’s also approximately 60% of earmarks from the same Top 10).
My friends, as Senator McCain would say, this is NO WAY to win back the confidence of the American voter. Sometimes you really have to clean house (or in this case, the other chamber…I haven’t even gotten to the House yet!). If you live in any of these states, (or even if you don’t) I implore you to contact the offices of these Senators and demand they reverse themselves. Without a responsible move, I’m afraid these six Senators WILL HAVE TO GO.
After the jump is the pertinant contact information for the Shameful Six:
In last fall’s campaign, particularly those parts which drew the most public attention, the presidential debates, then-candidate Obama often sounded like Ronald Reagan, promising to cut the waste out of the federal government.Â In the third presidential debate, he said, “what I’ve done throughout this campaign is to propose a net spending cut.”
Just after his victory, he repeated that commitment, promising to “scour the federal budget, line by line, and make meaningful cuts.”
Not only has he given us the opposite since his election, but he’s done so on steroids.
Now, Jen O’Malley Dillon, the new Executive Director of the Democratic National Committee takes issue with Rush Limbaugh for taking Obama, pointing out that “Americans voted in November for the very kind of change the President is bringing to Washington.“Â So, I’m wondering, isn’t Rush, in challenging the president on government spending, doing a better job of promoting the kind of change the American people voted for in electing Obama, given that Democrat’s rhetoric on spending?
Even our critics want to end the debate on the president’s policy proposals, contending “Engage in a debate over which policies will lead us? Didn’t we just do that? I think it was called an election.” But, given the president’s campaign rhetoric, it seems the president has changed the terms of that debate.
He seems to think that his victory in the fall gave him a mandate to do whatever he wants now that he’s in the White House. Kind of sounds like how George H.W. Bush treated his campaign rhetoric on not raising taxes and staying the Reaganite course. And look where that got him.
UPDATE:Â Even the AP notice that in signing the bill, “Obama beats early retreat on promise to fight pork.”
UP-UPDATE: Glenn notes that even Maureen Dowd finds Obama’s passivity on earmarks appalling.
It’s only a matter of time now before the Senate passes the “stimulus.” Senators Collins, Snowe and Specter did not even extend Americans the courtesy of delaying the vote so that Senators would have time to familiarize themselves with the bill’s contents.
As a result, their constituents, the American people, won’t know how their representatives intend to spend their money, perhaps the largest single amount even spent in a single vote (not related to the normal budget process), until after the money is spent.
Some might say, echoing the president’s truculent remark to House Republicans, that they won. And yes, they did win, but they didn’t campaign on a “stimulus” of this magnitude. We haven’t had a serious debate on this “stimulus,” haven’t even considered some of its various provisions. Heck, even those voting for it hadn’t had time to read it.
And with its passage, we see, as Jim Geraghty put it, All Barack Obama Statements Come With an Expiration Date. Â Its passage lacked the transparency Obama promised in his campaign (and which he reiterated when he took office. Â In accepting a package crafted by House Democrats (who did not solicit Republican input), the president abandoned another promise–to put forward legislation which wasÂ “temporary, targeted and timely.”
Hardly “post-partisan” that.
Instead, as Jennifer Rubin found his signature legislative accomplishment so far to be “a liberal land-grab with hundreds of pages of non-stimulative largess. . ., hardly the model of bipartisanship or transparency, even the A.P. concedes.”
That wise blogress quotes Slate’s John Dickerson, no conservative he, who found the process of crafting the “stimulus,” and passing it into law was little more than business as usual in our nation’s capital:
. . not only is the end product raggedâ€”some of the elements aren’t terribly stimulativeâ€”but the means were ugly. The differences between the House and Senate bills were reconciled mostly in secret by House and Senate Democratic leaders, three Northeastern Republicans, and White House aides. This is hardly unusual for Washingtonâ€”which is precisely the problem: It’s not the change Obama promised.
That they would rush to passage a bill of this magnitude at a time of record deficits doesn’t suggest leaders acting in a transparent fashion, but politicians trying to get something past the people, lest they figure out what their representatives are doing.
It seems that for Barack Obama, change was just words, a theme he could use to win election. During the campaign, many of us, including this blogger, questioned his commitment to change given that he had never distanced himself (on any significant issue) from his party’s leadership either in the United States Senate or its Illinois counterpart.
“Change” was just the name of the vehicle he used to enact traditional Democratic policies through routine political means.
UPDATE: Â And let’s not forget, Obama promised to end the practice of writing legislation behind closed doors.