Right to the Point2/5/09

Obama’s Democrats: Economic pork, err, stimulus package

Feb. 5, 2009

By Mike Benevento

As the street cleaners sweep up the glitter left over from the inaugural celebration, President Barack Obama announced he expects to preside over a budget with a $1.2 trillion deficit. Since the Democrats are getting their way, our children may spend their whole lives repaying the debt the Troubled Asset Relief Program and the Democratic economic stimulus package will incur.

If the goal of the legislation is to just spend money, it certainly does that. If the goal is to help resolve the economic crisis, the stimulus may lessen the pain, but will surely prolong the misery.

For the first time since 1994, Democrats control both the legislative and executive branches. Thus, Obama and Congress feel the American people gave them a mandate to make significant changes in foreign and domestic policy. Capitalizing on the current economic crisis — as former President Clinton advisor Dick Morris warns — Democrats and Obama will attempt to accomplish their liberal agenda under the pretext of economic recovery.

Morris wrote, “(Obama) will begin by passing every program for which liberals have lusted for decades, from alternative-energy sources to school renovations, infrastructure repairs and technology enhancements. These are all good programs, but they normally would be stretched out for years. But freed of any constraint on the deficit — indeed, empowered by a mandate to raise it as high as possible — Obama will do them all rather quickly.”

In the months leading up to Obama’s inauguration, Congressional Democrats were determined to get in on the big bash. Democratic leaders rushed to have the massive economic stimulus legislation ready for Obama’s signature on his first day in office. Thus, signing the law was to be the icing on the cake of Obama’s victory celebration.

While Republicans realize the economy needs some stimulus, rushing a package through is a big mistake. The plan needs to be timely, targeted and temporary — not quick. Republicans realized the legislation did not bring hope for a new beginning, but more pork barrel spending, a massive deficit and an ever-growing national debt.

Democrat pork projects in the stimulus package caused an outcry from Republicans. Their steadfast objection forced the Democrats to eliminate a provision for expanded birth control coverage under Medicaid. Republicans also forced Democrats to remove refurbishing the sod at Washington D.C.’s National Mall from the job stimulus package.

However, Republicans were not entirely successful in removing all pork. Included in the House bill is $335 million for sexually transmitted disease programs at the Centers for Disease Control. This provision — and others like it — has little effect on creating jobs and does not stimulate the economy.

Last week — even though every Republican voted against it — the House passed an economic stimulus package worth $825 billion. The Senate version in the works totals nearly $900 billion. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said government borrowing to pay for the plan would add another $347 billion, pushing the estimated cost of the stimulus package to more than $1 trillion, including interest.

All of this is just the beginning of the spending spree. According to USA Today, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner warned Congress that the $700 billion already spent rescuing financial institutions and the $825 billion stimulus package are only the start.

“It is going to require much more substantial action … on a very dramatic scale,” Geithner said.

As it dumps more and more taxpayer money into the economy, Congress will continue to gain economic influence. Using a seemingly unlimited taxpayers’ purse and the ability to print money, Congress has the power to determine which industries prosper and which decay. As Dick Morris wrote, “We will shortly become like a socialist democracy in which the government dominates the economy, determines private-sector priorities and offers a vastly expanded range of services to many more people at much higher taxes.”

Democrats in Congress are certainly in President Obama’s pocket, but their tax and spend policies and bailout everything philosophy will quickly wear thin on taxpayers. In a time when families are overleveraged and cutting spending, Americans will eventually backlash against Washington’s amazing spending binge. One wonders, how much more do Obama and Congress expect to squeeze out of the taxpayers?

As Dick Morris notes, the stimulus package and other governmental actions will not end the economic crisis. It will end when the private sector works through the high debt levels that triggered the collapse in the first place.

In the meantime, however, the Democrat-controlled government will spend upwards of $2 trillion trying to prove Morris wrong. Trillions we don’t have and, therefore, our children will repay.

Michael Benevento is a former Air Force fighter jet weapon systems officer. He has a bachelor’s degree in Military History and a master’s in International Relations. Mike resides in Williston with his wife Kristine and their two sons, Matthew and Calvin.