Call it the "St. Valentine's Day Massacre Part II" or "Revenge of the Democrats," but no matter how you look at the 2009 economic stimulus bill on this Friday the 13th of February -- it's a horror story.
The Republican proposal when the process started was $440 billion and that included a stop gap measure that froze any additional spending after two quarters of positive growth in the gross domestic product. Meanwhile, the "we won" Democrats' version was $900 billion with no stop gaps in case of economic recovery.
Senate Democrats and three Senate Republicans settled on a $780 billion package, and even that was inadequate because the newly "negotiated" version that arrived on Congressional doorsteps at 11 p.m. Thursday evening was for $787 billion.
According to Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina, the bill actually spends $1.1 trillion over 10 years, and again, that's with no stop-gaps in case of economic recovery. That means if (on the very off chance) the bill were to succeed, the government would go right on spending.
But chances are, it won't work. Why? From what the Senate and House Republicans were able to extrapolate in the 16 hours they had to review the 1,100-page document, Graham said only 11 percent hits the economy in the first year. More than 50 percent isn't spent until two years from now.
There is a lot that is unknown about the bill, but what we do know about it, according to Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, is that there is a multi-million dollar expenditure to save red-bellied mice and an $8 billion appropriation to build a levitating train from Las Vegas to Disneyland. We also know, thanks to GOP Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, that Democrats rejected an amendment to ensure competitive bidding in the few cases where jobs are actually created. We also know there's nearly $100,000 in the bill to install doorbells in the City of Laurel, Miss.
Interestingly, the bill includes nothing to restore the banking system or repair the housing market. These matters are being dealt with separately because apparently Democrats believe they have nothing to do with fixing the economy (even though there is universal agreement that these are the very problems that derailed the economy in the first place).
Democrats keep saying the package "will create jobs," and it will "turn our economy around," but they don't say why. Instead, they use platitudes and arguments to make their case -- not facts. They talk about the war in Iraq and President Bush, but they don't discuss the package. They discuss the loss of Republican credibility -- as though that gives Democrats the right to pass bad legislation.
Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer of New York had the most outrageous comments of the day as he admonished the "vanquished" Republican minority:
When we meet you half way, don't give us the back of your hand and say it isn't bipartisan. Please, on the next bill -- it's too late on this one -- rethink the attitude.Ahhh ... can you smell it? That's change you can believe in.
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