Ben Stein is not impressed.

I love this. The new kind of politics of hope. Eight hours of debate in the HR to pass a bill spending $820 billion, or roughly $102 billion per hour of debate.

Only ten per cent of the "stimulus" to be spent on 2009.

Close to half goes to entities that sponsor or employ or both members of the Service Employees International Union, federal, state, and municipal employee unions, or other Democrat-controlled unions.

This bill is sent to Congress after Obama has been in office for seven days. It is 680 pages long. According to my calculations, not one member of Congress read the entire bill before this vote. Obviously, it would have been impossible, given his schedule, for President Obama to have read the entire bill.

For the amount spent we could have given every unemployed person in the United States roughly $75,000.

We could give every person who had lost a job and is now passing through long-term unemployment of six months or longer roughly $300,000.

There has been pork barrel politics since there has been politics. The scale of this pork is beyond what had ever been imagined before — and no one can be sure it will actually do much stimulation.

Especially considering Stein’s note that only 10% of this even gets spent in 2009, and that most recessions don’t last more than a year, this is simply a way to push the pork and pretend to "do something".  And then, when the recession ends you can take credit and garner votes for you and your party.

All the House Republicans voted against this.  If you’re a fiscal conservative, you should be glad they listen to Rush Limbaugh.  And if you’re not a fiscal conservative, then perhaps the Senate version of the "economic stimulus" bill might make you one.  What’s in it?  Here’s a sampling:

•    $20 million “for the removal of small- to medium-sized fish passage barriers.” (Pg. 45 of Senate Appropriations Committee report: “20,000,000 for the removal of small- to medium-sized fish passage barriers)

•    $400 million for STD prevention (Pg. 60 of Senate Appropriations Committee report: “CDC estimates that a proximately 19 million new STD infections occur annually in the United States …The Committee has included $400,000,000 for testing and prevention of these conditions.”)

•    $25 million to rehabilitate off-roading (ATV) trails (Pg. 45 of Senate Appropriations Committee report: “$25,000,000 is for recreation maintenance, especially for rehabilitation of off-road vehicle routes, and $20,000,000 is for trail maintenance and restoration”)

•    $34 million to remodel the Department of Commerce HQ (Pg. 15 of Senate Appropriations Committee report:  $34,000,000 for the Department of Commerce renovation and modernization”)

•    $70 million to “Support Supercomputing Activities” for climate research (Pgs. 14-15 of Senate Appropriations Committee Report: $70,000,000 is directed to specifically support supercomputing activities, especially as they relate to climate research)

•    $150 million for honey bee insurance (Pg. 102 of Senate Appropriations Committee report: “The Secretary shall use up to $ 50,000,000 per year, and $150,000,000 in the case of 2009, from the Trust Fund to provide emergency relief to eligible producers of livestock, honey bees, and farm-raised fish to aid in the reduction of losses due to disease, adverse weather, or other conditions, such as blizzards and wildfires, as determined by the Secretary”)

The critical infrastructure spending is well within the purview of the federal government, and frankly is long overdue.  But there’s a huge amount of pork coming out of this that the Democrats seek to sweep under the rug hoping you won’t notice.  It’s apparently too imminent a problem to bother, y’know, debating the bill for too much longer.  This pork, er, stimulus must be passed now.

Filed under: DemocratsDougEconomics & TaxesGovernmentPolitics

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