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Earmarks that aren’t earmarks… January 29, 2009

Posted by neoavatara in Economy, Politics.
Tags: , , ,


The Democratic Motto, per Rahm Emanuel:

“Never let a serious crisis go to waste. What I mean by that is it’s an opportunity to do things you couldn’t do before.”

Well, clearly Democrats didn’t keep their pledge on earmarks (unless you take the most technical definition of the word).  And despite Republicans being called the ‘NO’ party by liberal commentators, sometimes you have to say NO.  Just look at some items in the boondoggle called the Obama stimulus plan:

  • Democrats from New York, Chicago and other cities added $3 billion in funding for transit systems.
  • The House legislation also would exempt yacht-repair companies from paying for federal workers’ compensation insurance to cover those hurt on the job. The Fort Lauderdale-based Marine Industries Association of South Florida had fought for the exemption for six years before Florida Reps. Deborah Wasserman Schultz and Ron Klein inserted it in the stimulus plan.
  • North Carolina Rep. Larry Kissell won a House amendment that requires the Transportation Security Administration to buy some 100,000 employee uniforms from U.S. textile plants.
  • There’s $1 billion for Amtrak, the federal railroad that hasn’t turned a profit in 40 years.
  • $2 billion for child-care subsidies.
  • $50 million for that great engine of job creation, the National Endowment for the Arts.
  • $400 million for global-warming research and another $2.4 billion for carbon-capture demonstration projects.
  • $650 million on top of the billions already doled out to pay for digital TV conversion coupons.
  • Education gets $66 billion more. That’s more than the entire Education Department spent a mere 10 years ago and is on top of the doubling under President Bush. Some $6 billion of this will subsidize university building projects. If you think the intention here is to help kids learn, the House declares on page 257 that “No recipient . . . shall use such funds to provide financial assistance to students to attend private elementary or secondary schools.” In other words:  NO VOUCHERS.  A gift to the teacher unions…
  • Congress wants to spend $600 million more for the federal government to buy new cars. Uncle Sam already spends $3 billion a year on its fleet of 600,000 vehicles.
  • As for the promise of accountability, some $54 billion will go to federal programs that the Office of Management and Budget or the Government Accountability Office have already criticized as “ineffective” or unable to pass basic financial audits. These include the Economic Development Administration, the Small Business Administration, the 10 federal job training programs, and many more.
  • Another “stimulus” secret is that some $252 billion is for income-transfer payments — that is, not investments that arguably help everyone, but cash or benefits to individuals for doing nothing at all. There’s $81 billion for Medicaid, $36 billion for expanded unemployment benefits, $20 billion for food stamps, and $83 billion for the earned income credit for people who don’t pay income tax.  While I may agree with some of this spending as necessary, it is certainly not stimulus.
  • $75 million is now suggested by Senate Democrats for smoking cessation.  Although as a doctor I am fully in favor smoking cessation, and that over a course of decades it very likely is actually a cost saver, in the short run it would be slowing economic growth; you do realize that Americans produce tobacco, right?  So this could actually cost more Americans their jobs.  Ironic.

Add the roughly $20 billion for business tax cuts, and by my estimate and the Wall Street Journal,  only $90 billion out of $825 billion, or about 12 cents of every $1, is for something that can plausibly be considered a growth stimulus.  Embarrassing.




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