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The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (The Stimulus Bill) is a cruel joke.
The Democrats who controlled Congress and the Administration of President Obama claimed that the near 800 Billion Dollar “Stimulus” was needed to jumpstart the sagging economy. They told us that our economy could only rebound if government stepped in to save us (from ourselves). I would argue that the Stimulus Bill was, for the most part, a tool to reward those who had supported Mr. Obama and the Democrats in Congress in the 2008 elections. It was partisan use of the tax dollars that you have paid to buy votes for Mr. Obama and his friends. And it was on a scale greater than any pork ever voted by Congress, ever.
That is not how Mr. Obama or his supporters saw the bill. From the Whitehouse.gov website on February 17, 2009 – “What I am signing is a balanced plan with a mix of tax cuts and investments. It is a plan that’s been put together without earmarks or the usual pork barrel spending. And it is a plan that will be implemented with an unprecedented level of transparency and accountability,” President Obama said before signing the bill into law. “And we expect you, the American people, to hold us accountable for the results. That is why we have created Recovery.gov – so every American can go online and see how their money is being spent.” Really?
I would argue that every sentence in that signing statement by our President is untrue and was known to be untrue when he spoke the words.
1. “…a balanced plan with a mix of tax cuts and investments.” Let’s see. The ARRA planned to provide about $175 Billion, about 20% of all “Stimulus” funds for Medicaid, family services, and unemployment insurance programs. Add to that another $80+ Billion for Education, mostly what they called the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund. Yet they dedicated a total of only $2.1 Billion (way less than one percent) for Manufacturing and Economic Recovery and Infrastructure Financing. “Balanced?” “Investments?”
2. “It is a plan that’s been put together without earmarks or the usual pork barrel spending.” Really? Just the $82 Billion that went for the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund was intended to ensure that teachers were not laid off in numbers like private sector workers. It is no mystery that the NEA and its affiliates were and are the biggest supporter of Mr. Obama and Democrat politicians in general. What a handy way to pump up your base of contributors. That’s not pork?
3. “And it is a plan that will be implemented with an unprecedented level of transparency and accountability.” Just for fun, go to the website as Mr. Obama advises. Start with the comparison maps under “Where is the Money Going?” the first map that comes up shows total recovery dollars distributed by state vs. the unemployment by state. It doesn’t show things based on per capita recovery dollars. It makes no sense. In fact, that whole series of maps is “transparent” like a London fog. If you can explore that site and believe that it is anything but an attempt to confuse the subject, you are wired differently than I am.
I could go on, but have written much about this already. The reason for raising the issue again is that Mr. Obama’s “Stimulus Lite” or jobs plan is just more of the same. And it is pure and simple campaign strategy. He knows it has no chance of passing and he hopes it won’t. Then he will have all those nasty Republicans to blame for defeating his best effort to create jobs. He keeps looking for reasons why he has not delivered on his promises rather than making the needed effort to get the job done. Mr. Obama doesn’t want more jobs near as much as he wants excuses that will help him to be reelected.
At a private meeting with President Obama earlier this year, the late Steve Jobs, previously a strong Obama supporter, said something very revealing about Mr. Obama,
“The president is very smart, but he kept explaining to us reasons why things can’t get done. It infuriates me.” – Steve Jobs
Me, too, Steve.
What did the ARRA do for you?
Here is a list of ten topics I want to discuss on this blog over the next few weeks/months. Contrary to what it did for Bo Derek’s career, there is nothing sacred about the number “10”. Feel free to suggest other topics. The plan is to do a post about once a week to start the discussion of each topic. As always, your comments will make it worthwhile.
1. Social Security – The plan which was started as a 1% tax to provide a retirement safety net is now a 15% tax to give a pension to virtually everyone. How can this work and what needs to be fixed?
2. Tax policy – We currently have government activities funded through a group of taxes that become more complicated and more confiscatory each day. How can we change this to ensure the tax collection is done in the most efficient and least complex manner? Should we be using tax policy for social engineering?
3. Earmarks/Pork – What will it take to create an honest system of lawmaking where each law is passed without the need to use pork to bribe the fence-sitting Members of Congress to vote for each new law?
4. Health Insurance/Health Care Delivery – Is the new “Health Care Law” really about health, or insurance, or health care delivery or government control of a large industry? Does the new law solve more problems than it creates?
5. Energy – What will it take to create a real energy policy for our country? Is one needed or should we simply deregulate and let the markets control supply and demand and prices?
6. Monetary Policy – The Gold Standard vs. The Fed Printing Money – When will we stop debasing the currency by inflating it? Is Fed money-printing the ultimate tax that allows our governments to spend at will?
7. Infrastructure – Are we committing enough of our resources to the maintenance and expansion of our basic infrastructure? Are we administering the resources effectively?
8. Public Education/Higher Education – Does the fact that Higher Education costs have inflated at a rate even greater than health care mean there is a problem in higher education? Is tenure a relic of the past? Is the 1st Amendment under attack in our schools? Are teachers and professors professionals or since many or most are now members of unions are they non-professional staff/wage-earners?
9. Government by Agency Regulation – Are the majority of our laws now made by unelected bureaucrats rather than by elected representatives? How do we control Agencies and prevent government interference in markets by regulators? Are all of our current regulatory agencies actually needed?
10. Your Favorite Issue Goes Here – What is your hot button? What do you think needs to be fixed most?
You have probably noted a few glaring voids in the list. The items below are ones about which posts have appeared at this blog. Unless I get feedback to the contrary, I will let these 10 stand for now, but, if you feel there are much more important topics, comment to that effect and we will get your topic on the list.
Job creation? ( see post at – http://ttoes.wordpress.com/2010/02/17/20-40-issue-2-job-creation/ )
Our legal system ( see steven’s post at – http://ttoes.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/crime-and-punishment-our-legal-system/ )
Illegal Drug Use/Abuse ( see post at http://ttoes.wordpress.com/2010/05/19/20-40-extra-issue-legalize-drugs/ )
Global climate change ( see post at http://ttoes.wordpress.com/2010/07/15/20-40-issue-8-the-environment/)
All during his campaign, Mr. Obama harped on the theme that the Republicans were corrupt and that they politicized everything. In his view, the Republicans were the kings of pork or “earmarks.” Mr. Obama’s campaign website claimed: “Barack Obama is committed to returning earmarks to less than $7.8 billion a year, the level they were at before 1994.”
He now admits that he hasn’t been able to control Congress as he had hoped and agrees that “earmarks” have not gone down. He does, however, blame Congress for his failure to live up to his promise.
I find it very interesting that a leader chooses to blame his own team for his inability to live up to his promises. Imagine, if you will, a real leader blaming his team for his own failings. If John Wooden’s UCLA basketball team lost a game, Wooden took responsibility for not preparing his team or for having a poor game plan. Truman didn’t say, “The Buck Stops with those guys in Congress except when it is something for which I want the credit.” I think he said, “The Buck Stops Here.” Leaders take responsibility. They blame themselves and spread among their team members all credit for successes.
So I have a simple solution for Mr. Obama. If he truly wants to change the system and reduce or eliminate porkbarrel politics, all he need do is have a little chat with Congress. His remarks could be very short and very sweet, “I will not sign any legislation that contains any pork (earmarks), period. If the legislation cannot stand without bribing a few Members or Senators with pork, it does not deserve to become law. If you, Nancy Pelosi and you, Harry Reid, want to override my veto, you will have to answer to the American People for the bribery and fraud you are perpetuating.”
Of course, then he would have to follow through and keep his promise. What do you think the chances are he would do that?
Mr. Obama spent two years on the campaign trail. Most of it, he spent telling us of the evils of Washington, the politics, the lies, the broken promises, the unethical behavior. He promised “Change.” He promised to change the unethical behavior so rampant in ‘Washington.’ I’m not sure if he will ever defend himself by stating, “It depends on your definition of Change.” I am sure that the change I see is not the one that I believe a majority of voters wanted. Either we need a new definition of ‘change’ or Mr. Obama needs to stop lying to us.
Change in Washington Ethics, Example One – The day before yesterday speaking on Energy, Cap and Trade, etc., Mr. Obama said,”In the late 1970s, the state of California enacted tougher energy-efficiency policies. Over the next three decades, those policies helped create almost 1.5 million jobs. And today, Californians consume 40 percent less energy per person than the national average–which, over time, has prevented the need to build at least 24 new power plants. Think about that. California–producing jobs, their economy keeping pace with the rest of the country, and yet they have been able to maintain their energy usage at a much lower level than the rest of the country.” His obvious intent is to convince you that strict energy laws (like the soon-to-emerge-from-Congress Cap and Trade Bill) will have us creating lots of jobs and consuming far less energy. That is disingenuous at best, probably simple deceit, and may just be lying. California’s population is concentrated in areas with a very mild climate and as such, most Californians require far less energy to heat and cool their homes. My guess is that they have always used far less than the national average amount of energy. Also, during the period Mr. Obama uses in his example, the population of California grew by 14.3 million people. If his “create almost 1.5 million jobs” happened to be 1.43 million, that would mean one job for every ten people. Could this be one reason that California has seen a huge exodus of industry and now has the 3rd highest unemployment rate in the country? If a salesman used this argument on you, you would be upset and would not deal with him. That doesn’t appear to be a choice in this case.
Change in Washington Ethics, Example Two – The Obama-Biden plan posted online laid out the changes needed in Ethics in Government. High on the list was the promise to eliminate pork from our government budget: “Slash Earmarks: Earmarks grew from $7.8 billion in 1994 to $29 billion in 2006. Barack Obama is committed to returning earmarks to less than $7.8 billion a year, the level they were at before 1994.” In the stimulus bill alone, the $7.8 Billion wouldn’t amount to a shadow of the included earmarks (see here and here among many others). Talk about challenging us to believe him! In the same document, it reads, “Shine Light on Earmarks and Pork Barrel Spending: Obama’s Transparency and Integrity in Earmarks Act will shed light on all earmarks by disclosing the name of the legislator who asked for each earmark, along with a written justification, 72 hours before they can be approved by the full Senate.” Have you seen that yet? Maybe Mr. Obama is saving that for his 2nd term.
Change in Washington Ethics, Example Three – Also in the same document and in many speeches, “Sunlight Before Signing: Too often bills are rushed through Congress and to the president before the public has the opportunity to review them. As president, Obama will not sign any non-emergency bill without giving the American public an opportunity to review and comment on the White House website for five days.” To date, he has broken this promise 5 times and is planning no such ‘Sunlight’ before signing a cap and trade bill. Breaking a promise once may be forgiven by some. Breaking it on a regular basis has no defense. It is pure and simple fraud.
Change in Washington Ethics, Numbers Four through 10,000 will come with the sale of Socialized Medicine, a Value Added Tax, selling a new Associate Justice who was chosen for her race and gender, not her qualifications, etc., etc., etc. I’m afraid we have only seen the beginning of this ‘change’ (for the worse) in Washington Ethics.
When a Republican President (Mr. Bush) had a Republican Congress and they proceeded to spend money like drunken sailors, I was highly disappointed. When a Democrat President (Mr. Obama) plays the ethics card for two years then acts in a blatantly unethical manner to achieve his goals I wonder about our society and our future.
Mr. Obama joined Congress in decrying the bonuses given to the AIG execs. He was incensed that a Company that was given $170 billion taxpayer dollars would have the gall to give out $165 million in bonuses to retain key executives. So was almost everyone in Congress.
“It’s hard to understand how derivative traders at AIG warranted any bonuses, much less $165 million in extra pay,” Obama said at the outset of an appearance to announce help for small businesses hurt by the deep recession. “How do they justify this outrage to the taxpayers who are keeping the company afloat.” Obama said he has asked Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to “…pursue every legal avenue to block these bonuses and make the American taxpayers whole.” All this is according to the Huffington Post, normally quite sympathetic to President Obama.
The folks at Huffpo didn’t, however, mention that this was a special ‘pet project’ use of one, one-thousandth of the money they were given. So a diversion from the intended use of a tenth of a percent of the money has Mr. Obama hopping mad.
Let’s compare that with Mr. Obama’s reaction when questioned about signing the Omnibus Appropriations bill which was written to bail out our government until the next budget cycle. It contained 8500 to 9300 (depends on who is counting) earmarks worth somewhere north of $12 Billion. Mr. Obama said, “I am signing an imperfect omnibus bill because it is necessary for the ongoing functions of government. But I also view this as a departure point for more far-reaching change. The future demands that we operate in a different way than we have in the past,” Obama declared. “So let there be no doubt: This piece of legislation must mark an end to the old way of doing business, and the beginning of a new era of responsibility and accountability that the American people have every right to expect and demand. . . . That’s the government I promised. That’s the government I intend to lead.”
Doesn’t sound hopping mad to me. In fact, it sounds like he said he knew he was signing a bill which diverted $12 Billion of the $410 Billion away from the intended purpose of the bill. And he did so without so much as an “I’m Sorry.”
So if Mr. Obama diverts to improper uses about 3% of the Appropriations bill, that is okay. If Executives (from a company being bailed out by money from the same taxpayers) divert 0.1% (one thirtieth as much as was diverted in the Omnibus Bill) of the funds they have received, it is an “outrage” that requires investigation and someone’s head on the block.
I wonder when the politics-as-usual will stop and Mr. Obama will start to deliver on his promises. The smart money is betting it won’t be anytime soon.