Last night, President Obama took his show on the road to Elkhart, Indiana to sell his “stimulus bill.”
I was quite impressed with his ability to cover all the points he wanted to cover and make each point the answer to a question from the press. I was quite impressed that Helen Thomas, at 88, is still able to stand and ask a question, let alone be mobile and lucid enough to continue to do her job. I was quite impressed by Mr. Obama’s composure and his ability to stay above the level of those who resort to attacks and name calling. I was impressed that it appears that Mr. Obama has actually conferred with advisors from all political stripes.
I was most concerned by a couple of things that, for me, undermined most of the other good things that I saw and heard.
First, I was highly disappointed that Mr. Obama continued to use the “fear” card to sell his plan. He clearly told us, “For every day we wait or point fingers or drag our feet, more Americans will lose their jobs. More families will lose their savings. More dreams will be deferred and denied” he warned. “And our nation will sink deeper into a crisis that, at some point, we may not be able to reverse.” He could have said that we need to be serious and commit the government to doing things that will stimulate the economy. He could have said that it is important to do this soon. I am worried about the rush to get this done and the size of it. I REALLY don’t like the President’s use of fear to sell this.
Second, I could not help but see President Bill Clinton sitting in front of the cameras saying, “It depends on what the meaning of the word “is” is.” How could Mr. Obama say with a straight face (and he did. I saw it.) that there were “no pet projects. Not a single earmark” in the stimulus bill? When he handed the drafting of the bill over to Nancy Pelosi and crew, they labored long and hard to include every pet project and all the lard they could find onto the bill. They knew that Mr. Obama would do his best to get the bill passed and they wanted all their goodies to ride along on the coattails of both Mr. Obama and the fear of depression if we don’t pass the bill.
Let’s see – pet projects and earmarks. As first written by Pelosi and the House*, no funds would be allowed to go to Illinois unless Rod Blagojevich is removed as Governor. What does that have to do with stimulus? It is a pure and simple political move or “pet project.” No funds can be used by any entity that does not agree to participate in the Immigration “e-verify program.” This is another voluntary pet program that they are using this bill to force on contractors. Again, I don’t see how this is a stimulus to the economy. The bill from the House added “enhancements” to the whistleblower act (to be called the ‘‘Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2009’’.) This is to put back into the legislation (40 pages of) things that the Dems could not get with the first whistleblower act. Is this a pet project or a stimulus? There are salaries and expenses for information technology for the Farm Services Agency, a billion dollars for periodic censuses and programs, $400,000,000 for habitat restoration and mitigation activities for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The list goes on for 680 pages. Most of those 680 pages are dedicated to pet projects and earmarks.
I was certain that Mr. Clinton knew the meaning of the word “is.” I am certain that Mr. Obama knows what an earmark is. He also knows as well that the “stimulus bill” is the granddaddy of all earmark bills.
I am so disappointed.
* Disclaimer: I have only read (large parts of) the original House bill that was sent to the Senate. Some of the offending items may have been struck by the Senate.