Oinkers FeastPolicy

Well, it’s a porkfest on Capitol Hill.

We wondered what complete Democrat control would be like and here it is: over reaching on a grand scale. There will be bad ideas in spades and we’ll catch a few of them on this blog — but, honestly, we simply aren’t going to have time to chronicle them all.

One thing we do want to do, however, is give you a place to sound off about all the latest pork. So here goes: the oinkers are feasting on your tax dollars. What are they doing with them?

State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) — now covering illegal aliens and people who already have private health insurance (remember how well that worked in Hawaii?)

H.R.1 – the Democrat’s Stimulus Package — now this is a doozy.

I don’t even know where to start.

It costs $825 BILLION dollars. (upfront – but the CBO apparently says that’ll be $1.1 TRILLION with debt service).

Only 3.6% of this spending is for the famed highway infrastructure that we need so badly. Heck, split that evenly over the states (which they won’t) and we in Virginia wouldn’t even get what we need to cover the shortfall in our Transportation Trust Fund.

The jobs they are talking about creating — well, read the fine print. If this package goes through, each job will cost $210,000. Yep, that’s money out of the pockets of people who have jobs and are paying taxes. And, guess what the average taxpayer makes – just $45,000 / year. Is that really a good deal?

Now, Obama’s asked Speaker Pelosi to scrap the funds for birth control and we hear she’s agreed. That was a particularly funny one — especially since (sans immigration) we are not too far from dropping below a replacement birth rate. In Japan, which has already achieved that distinction, Canon is urging its workers to go home and procreate.

But, even with the tacit admission that birth control isn’t economic stimulus, there’s plenty of pork to go around in this bill. Now, I’m asking you, how do these things stimulate the economy?

  • $50 million to increase staff at the Student Aid Administration
  • $79 billion to bail out states (like New York & California) that have run up massive deficits and driven taxpayers and businesses away. Mind you, the total projected budget deficit for all states in FY09 is $43 billion.
  • $2.1 billion for Head Start
  • $300 million to construct research science buildings at colleges and universities. Now you really have to love this one. I’m pro-science and pro-education (really, I am) but if you were to ask a top research scientist what would be the best way to spend $300 million in his field, I really doubt that adding buildings to universities that already have BILLION dollar endowments would fit the bill. I mean, couldn’t we put that money directly into AIDS research or cancer research or something like that?
  • Same goes for this next one: $1 billion to evaluate the effectiveness of different preventative health care interventions. OK, so maybe that’s a great thing to do. If a doctor has a super fat person and wants to prevent heart disease, should she start with prescribing diet or exercise? Wouldn’t we all like to know? But exactly how many jobs is that $1 billion going to get us? How much economic growth will it buy? Could it be used more effectively in some other way?
  • $50 million to the National Endowment for the Arts to make sure the recession doesn’t hurt all those starving non-profit artists. I’m not anti-art, but what makes these jobs so much more valuable than, say, jobs in the homebuilding industry?
  • $400 million for NASA climate change research
  • $350 million to identify and track where broadband services are available.
  • $88 million to lease a new headquarters for the Public Health Service
  • $245 million to modernize computer systems at the Farm Service Agency (note, this is while recent legislation authorizing the National Animal ID System is putting small farmers out of business)
  • $800 million for Amtrak — which is always losing money and this won’t make things one iota better for the rail carrier
  • You recall what the Gipper said:

    “Government is like a baby. An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.”

    How appropriate.

    I don’t often quote the Washington Post, but even they understand that this isn’t a stimulus package, unless what you are stimulating (and rewarding) is key Democratic constituencies:

    some in Congress and the new administration apparently see the country’s present recession as an opportunity to change the federal government’s spending priorities more generally or simply to reward loyal political constituencies. This is understandable, given that the voters endorsed the Democratic Party and its priorities in November. But it’s risky to make new, multiyear commitments in the middle of a crisis without debate over competing priorities — and without paying for them through some means other than borrowing.

    And that’s exactly right. Should we spend $850 billion to “jump start” the economy? Is $850 billion a magic number? Will $850 billion really do any long term good? What else could the same amount of money spent elsewhere – or used for job creation tax breaks – do?

    And, $850 Billion is about $7,000 for every American family (or, $10,500 that every American has to pay back – with the debt service). What could you do with $7,000? Someone did some figuring and apparently, $825 Billion would be enough to send all graduating high school seniors, for both the classes of 2009 and 2010, 4-year educations at private universities—and you’d still have more than $150 billion leftover.

    Stay tuned for more of the swill on which the oinkers will be feasting this year — and don’t hesitate to provide your own examples!

    h/t Republican Study Committee and Heritage Foundation

    • Jamie Radtke

      They also wanted to give $4.19 billion to “neighborhood stabilization activities” a.k.a ACORN. You realize the hypocrisy of all this, right? Congress want to cry foul because CEOs are spending 500K on beach retreats, flying on corporate jets to Congressional Hearings, and renovating their office for $1.5 million, but there is NO problem spending billions on corrupt ACORN and condoms! How does that create jobs?

    • Pingback: Round-up on pork in stimulus « On the Western Banks of the Shenandoah

    • http://bearingdrift.com DCH

      Congress. Hypocritical? No! Jamie, say it isn’t so.

      Sarcasm aside, you are absolutely correct. And, there is some evidence that these neighborhood stabilization dollars can actually lead to more foreclosures.

    • novamiddleman

      Excellent DCH one of the best contributers here

      This is the kind of stuff that ticks me off. The problem is the Republicans aren’t organized enough to take advantage of it.

      Imagine what would happen if the leadership said we are not voting for this stimulus because of all the stuff you jsut mentioned

      Thats how we will rebuild this party.

    • http://bearingdrift.com DCH

      Oh, and Drudge is reporting that there is $335 million for STD prevention in the bill now.

      Again, STDs / STIs have reached epidemic proportions. I think roughly a third of our young people have or have had an STD. Combating their spread is a worthy endeavor. But is it economic stimulus?

      Come on, people.

    • http://www.littledavidobermark.blogspot.com/ LittleDavid

      DCH,

      If we spend 500 million on condoms, somebody is going to have to manufacture these condoms. If it includes contraceptive drugs, then at least most of these are sure to be manufactured in America and provide stimulus if it increases demand.

      There are two ways to stimulate the economy. Cut taxes or increase spending. BOTH add to the deficit. However it is easier to turn off the spigot of increased spending then it is resume the original tax rate after a short run.

      As an example of why cutting taxes even in the short term ends up being a long term problem, see what has happened with the 2001 tax cuts. These tax cuts were supposed to be temporary to stimulate the economy. Now if they are allowed to expire this is described by some as a tax increase.

    • http://bearingdrift.com DCH

      it’s EASIER to turn off the spending spigot?

      where have you been for the last half century? taxes on the lower and middle classes have been declining WHILE spending has been skyrocketing.

      When do we EVER turn off the spigot?
      http://www.heritage.org/research/features/budgetchartbook/fed-rev-spend-2008-boc-S5-Federal-Spending-Grew-Nine-Times.html

      &, LD, how many condoms are made in America anyway? that $500 M will translate into how many US jobs? I mean, buy & use condoms by all means, but don’t make me buy them for you and then call it “stimulus.” Because the kind of stimulus coming from their inclusion in this bill isn’t exactly economic.

    • http://www.littledavidobermark.blogspot.com/ LittleDavid

      DCH,

      When did the Republicans ever cut taxes and decrease spending? You might find some past examples of this, but you will not find any examples in the last 8 years.

      Last examples you can point to happened back when Bill Clinton was President. Do you disagree?

    • http://bearingdrift.com DCH

      Point taken but when was the last time the Democrats cut taxes and decreased spending?

    • Jamie Radtke

      Hence why both parties have totally lost touch with the people. When the only difference between the Parties is a disagreement over HOW MUCH the spending should increase and who should get it, you mine as well just call them the Republicrats (or Demoplicans if you prefer) because there is no significant difference between the two parties. Much of the leadership in the GOP has lost its spine and can’t remember the guiding principles of republicanism.

    • Pingback: Clean Sweep! All House Republicans stand for principle on stimulus bill | Bearing Drift :: Virginia Politics and Podcasts

    • novamiddleman

      Jamie,

      Excellent point. To make matters worse the main objection by Republicans isn’t that there is too much spending. Its that there aren’t enough tax cuts. So in essence the so called fiscally responsible party wants to spend even more money.

    • http://bearingdrift.com Brian Kirwin

      Jamie, Nova, et al

      The reason is that the candidates who actually campaign on cutting spending have lost.

      Republicans tried to lower medicare spending growth and lost seats in Congress in 1998, thus giving birth to the “compassionate conservative” movement.

      Spending cutters weren’t winning, and Jim Gilmore’s performance didn’t help matters. Mark Warner exploded government spending and coasted to victory.

      Bottom line…if you want elected officials to cut spending, you have to figure out why those who increase spending are the repeated preference of the voters.

    • novamiddleman

      Brian good point. As long as the economy is doing well big government tax and spenders win.

      Currently fiscal conservatives can bascially say I told you so. Our economy is screwed because a majority of Americans from rich to poor were spending beyond their means.

      The tricky part of the situation is the economy is so messed up I think most people agree we need to abandon fiscal responsibility in the short term.

      Moving forward after the economy recovers it should be interesting to watch what happens. I have liked the Blue Dogs for some time now. My ultimate goal is for the Blue Dogs and some actual fiscal conservatives to unite and get some serious traction for government efficiency and accountability.

      Fairfax County is an interesting case study to watch. The past several elections the main thrust on the R side has been spending and taxes are out of control. Up to this point this hasn’t worked all that well. With the current situation there might be more traction on this issue. If Herrity loses its back to square one and for the life of me I don’t really see the way forward for republicans locally.

    • Duck

      More spending for birth control can certainly be “stimulating,” so I see why it would be in the stimulus package. But me thinks maybe Congress should add funds for bikini and lingerie manufacturers instead and cut the birth control funding as we are going to need more taxpayers to pay off this stimulus package. C’mon doesn’t anyone in Congress use common sense!! :)