By Richard Larsen
The other night Jay Leno remarked that Congress celebrated Presidentâ€™s Day and George Washingtonâ€™s throwing a dollar across the Potomac, by throwing $780 billion down a rat hole. If we were to look for a poster-child for the truism, â€œHaste makes waste,â€ we need look no further than the recent â€œstimulusâ€ bill. Letâ€™s clear up the semantics here: this bill is not stimulative to the economy, itâ€™s simply the largest spending bill in U.S. history. The only thing stimulated by it is government growth and control, and further encroachment on statesâ€™ rights and individual liberty. States and municipalities that accept funding do so with many strings attached, and the most common one throughout the bill is federal government control.
This bill, as we have already chronicled, included twelve cents of actual stimulus for every one dollar spent, and that will take years to put to work. The rest of the bill reads like a veritable spending wish list for Speaker Pelosiâ€™s pet causes. Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid rushed the bill through without even having a working copy for all the Congressmen to read. Not one legislator in either chamber could have possibly read the 1079 pages in the twelve hours each house had to consider it. Republicans were excluded from the negotiations for the final versions from both the House and the Senate.
Bipartisanship typically means both parties working together for the common good and hammering out compromises. The Obama, Pelosi, and Reid version of bipartisanship obviously means Republicans must abandon their principles in order to even have a place at the table.
As President Obama began addressing the issue of economic stimulus, he made several promises. At least eight of those promises he broke with this spending bill. 1. Make government open and transparent. 2. Make it â€œimpossibleâ€ for Congressmen to slip in pork barrel projects. 3. Meetings where laws are written will be more open to the public. 4. No more secrecy. 5. Public will have five days to look at a bill. 6. Youâ€™ll know whatâ€™s in it. 7. We will put every pork barrel project online. 8. He would wait for five days for public input before signing legislation.
One of the many Trojan Horses in the bill is the reversal of Welfare Reform, the most significant accomplishment of the Clinton Administration (which he didnâ€™t even want to sign) and the Gingrich-led Congress. That 1996 legislation changed how states were funded for welfare case loads, and placed the emphasis on employment assistance to needy families, rather than rewarding states for increasing their welfare case loads. It reduced the number of people on welfare by 60%, and increased employment of the most disadvantaged by 78%, according to the Brookings Institute.
The final form of the new stimulus bill contains a half dozen or more new welfare entitlements or expansions to benefits in existing programs. The pretense that these welfare expansions will lapse after two years is a political gimmick designed to hide their true cost from the taxpayer. If these welfare expansions are made permanent, as history indicates they will, the welfare cost of the stimulus will rise another $523 billion over 10 years, according to economist Robert Rector, credited with the successful welfare reform of thirteen years ago.
Even more startling is how all Americansâ€™ health care will be affected. The billâ€™s health rules will affect â€œevery individual in the United Statesâ€ (pages 445, 454, 479). It creates a new bureaucracy, the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology. Part of his departmentâ€™s responsibility will be to â€œmonitor treatmentsâ€ provided by doctors to make sure your doctor is doing what the government deems â€œappropriate and cost effective.â€ The model is based on Tom Daschleâ€™s book last year on health care, where he asserts that doctors have to give up their autonomy and â€œlearn to operate less like solo practitioners.â€
Daschleâ€™s model, which is now law, will affect our senior citizens most dramatically. Daschle says â€œhealth-care reform will not be pain free.â€ And that â€œSeniors should be more accepting of the conditions that come with age instead of treating them.â€ In other words, if youâ€™re 78 and have a heart condition, donâ€™t be surprised if some government wonk in D.C. vetoes your doctorâ€™s orders for a stent or a valve replacement.
When the economy recovers, and it will, it will occur in spite of this massive pork-filled spending bill, not because of it. But the pejorative impact on future growth will be felt for years as the weight of the costs will curtail economic growth. So much for â€œchange!â€ This is just the same old dance, just more corpulent and faster.
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