First thing this morning I read President Obama’s opinion piece in the Washington Post, defending his stimulus bill and attacking opponents as representing the same-old tax-cutting GOP economics of the past.
If that’s really what the President thinks, he is missing the point. It’s not tax cuts versus spending, it’s old-fashioned pork-barrel spending versus a targeted, non-wasteful economic stimulus package that contains both spending and responsible tax cuts.
This plan is more than a prescription for short-term spending — it’s a strategy for America’s long-term growth and opportunity in areas such as renewable energy, health care and education. And it’s a strategy that will be implemented with unprecedented transparency and accountability, so Americans know where their tax dollars are going and how they are being spent.
What’s he’s saying is that his bill is more than a bill to stimulate the economy. It’s a Christmas wish list that includes every patronage toy that Democrats in Congress want to see under their trees. That is not the purpose of this bill — at least that was not its original purpose.
When Obama took office, my comment was that his success as president would be determined by his ability to control his own party’s worst instincts. So far he has shown no ability to control anything. He let Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic House write their own bill and put in it whatever they wanted, and now he refuses to cut the waste they threw into the package. What’s worse, they did so with an arrogance reminiscent of another over-reaching Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich. Pelosi, as we know, not only made sure that no Republican would vote for her bill, but rubbed their faces in the dirt as well: “We won!”
Of course, much was made of Obama’s trip to the Hill to talk to GOP leaders. He would have better spent his time in Pelosi’s office reading her the riot act and explaining that building bipartisan support for legislation does not include humiliating the opposition (she can check with Newt on that lesson, too).
So, now, instead of admitting more self-inflicted wounds, Obama is expanding his “strategy” in order to excuse billions in pork. Yeah, the GOP would like to see more tax cuts, but it’s the pork that’s choking this legislative baby.
If it doesn’t survive, Obama and Pelosi deserve the blame, not the GOP.
Here’s a heartening report from CNN that Senators are now going through the stimulus bill line by line. Maybe there’s hope!
If you want to see some of the spending items that fall into “pork” category, here the list from CNN:
• $2 billion earmark to re-start FutureGen, a near-zero emissions coal power plant in Illinois that the Department of Energy defunded last year because it said the project was inefficient.
• A $246 million tax break for Hollywood movie producers to buy motion picture film.
• $650 million for the digital television converter box coupon program.
• $88 million for the Coast Guard to design a new polar icebreaker (arctic ship).
• $448 million for constructing the Department of Homeland Security headquarters.
• $248 million for furniture at the new Homeland Security headquarters.
• $600 million to buy hybrid vehicles for federal employees.
• $400 million for the Centers for Disease Control to screen and prevent STD’s.
• $1.4 billion for rural waste disposal programs.
• $125 million for the Washington sewer system.
• $150 million for Smithsonian museum facilities.
• $1 billion for the 2010 Census, which has a projected cost overrun of $3 billion.
• $75 million for “smoking cessation activities.”
• $200 million for public computer centers at community colleges.
• $75 million for salaries of employees at the FBI.
• $25 million for tribal alcohol and substance abuse reduction.
• $500 million for flood reduction projects on the Mississippi River.
• $10 million to inspect canals in urban areas.
• $6 billion to turn federal buildings into “green” buildings.
• $500 million for state and local fire stations.
• $650 million for wildland fire management on forest service lands.
• $1.2 billion for “youth activities,” including youth summer job programs.
• $88 million for renovating the headquarters of the Public Health Service.
• $412 million for CDC buildings and property.
• $500 million for building and repairing National Institutes of Health facilities in Bethesda, Maryland.
• $160 million for “paid volunteers” at the Corporation for National and Community Service.
• $5.5 million for “energy efficiency initiatives” at the Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Administration.
• $850 million for Amtrak.
• $100 million for reducing the hazard of lead-based paint.
• $75 million to construct a “security training” facility for State Department Security officers when they can be trained at existing facilities of other agencies.
• $110 million to the Farm Service Agency to upgrade computer systems.
• $200 million in funding for the lease of alternative energy vehicles for use on military installations.