Barack Obama has called the passage of the stimulus package a "milestone". That is exactly what a lot of people who opposed the bill,most notably economic conservatives, were afraid of. The fear was that a lot of the spending in this bill wasn't so much stimulus as using the crisis to pass spending bills that are simply designed to become permanent government programs, exploiting the economic crisis to shove legislation through that might not otherwise have support in much the same way Bush used 911 as the excuse to invade in Iraq.
Proof that Pelosi and some Democrats felt they could use the economic crisis as a cover to push through programs that have nothing to do with stimulating the economy was that they tried to push through programs that had nothing to do with stimulating the economy. Some of it was stripped out by the three Republicans who agreed to vote for it. But what would have gotten much more bi-partisan support would have been if McCain's proposal would have been adopted -- that is, install a trigger in the bill that would end the government stimulus spending once the economy turned around and it was no longer necessary. That was rejected.
Obama's referring to it as a "milestone" may have inadvertently betrayed the true intentions of Pelosi et al to make these spending programs permanent since no one could call measures needed to deal with the current economic crisis "milestones" any more than getting food water and shelter into New Orleans after Katrina or invading Afghanistan after 911 could be called "milestones". Both were unfortunate necessities, actions that had to be taken to deal with a crisis no one wanted. That Obama is calling it a "milestone" and literally celebrating the passage of the bill might be indicative of and betray the secret intentions of the bill. It also foreshadows in Obama a complete lack of understanding of what he is doing and what, ostensibly, the purpose of the bill is. Which comes as no surprise to a lot of people.
The stimulus bill is, if anything, a necessary evil needed to ward off the potential for a greater economic evil, at least in theory. And it must be said that so far, what's been done with regards to bailouts and other government action, hasn't worked which makes the stimulus bill even more suspect.
The $27 billion to keep the auto industry afloat supposedly to save auto workers jobs didn't stop GM from recently cutting 10,000 jobs.And if anyone wants to go back a month or so on this blog, you will see that I opposed the $27 billion bailout to the Big Three from day one on the grounds that they should be subjected to free market forces, that they had lost $70 billion in the last 3 years because of their own policies and were using the economic crisis as an excuse for a bailout when it was their own incompetence that created their real problems.
I said then that if they needed to go into bankruptcy or merge, so be it. Now we are learning that GM needs another $4 billion from taxpayers and that they are considering filing for bankruptcy anyway as one of their only real is viable options to stay in business. Except that if Obama, and Democrats like Dodd, Kerry and a bunch of others had had the same foresight they could have seen this coming and saved the taxpayers $27 billion. What is scary is that I spend about 15% of my time thinking about this stuff. They spend all their time thinking about it and still can't get it right.
As for the things in the stimulus that have nothing to do with stimulating the economy, there are a lot of programs in it that are worthwhile, but programs that should have been placed in separate bills, debated, voted on and passed. The fact that Pelosi tried to sneak these things through in a stimulus bill not only hurts the Democrats credibility, but gives reason to question their honesty and Obama's.
This is not to say that there aren't good ideas in the bill that will, have some affect. But it seems that the best ideas never made it into the package. And I hate to say it, but many of those best ideas came from the Republicans and their point that it was the housing crisis that got the country into this mess and it should be addressing the housing crisis first that gets the country of it. The Republicans wanted $50 billion to buy or refinance the mortgages of 1.5 million homes about to go into foreclosure which would keep those people in their homes. They didn't get it.
Another reason to question Obama's and the Democrats honesty with this bill, is why is Obama going to Denver to sign it when he can just as easily sign it in the White House? Why the dog and pony show? I think the answer is that a dog and pony show is the only thing Obama and Axelrod know how to do. This smacks of a Republican Presidential dog and pony show that backfired called "Mission Accomplished" and there is the danger it will have the same results.
Obama's clamoring that this bill had to passed and signed before Feb 16th or catastrophe would strike also smacked of Bush's warnings of imminent danger from Iraq and why we had to invade immediately. Bush said there was no time to let the weapons inspectors do their jobs. There was no time to wait, probably because he knew they would find nothing and the ruse being used to invade Iraq would be history.
The same might have been true of Obama's clamoring for immediate passage of the bill to fend off "catastrophe". He promised the bill would be posted for 5 days on a government web site so people could read it before a vote. Didn't happen.
The reason for a stimulus is for immediate results. Immediate meaning the economy turns around within two years and clear signs of that happening should be apparent in less than one. If it works, everyone will know it pretty soon. If it doesn't, the stimulus bill will end up not as a milestone, but a millstone, around Obama's neck as well as the Democrats who created it.
NOTE: We now know courtesy of Obama's press secretary, as to why the bill signing is in Denver. Obama is signing the bill in Denver to commemorate his nominaton for President at the Democratic National Convention. As symbolism this is bad news considering that the Democratic Convention and the roll call vote in Denver which secured Obama's nomination was rigged. It violated every rule and procedure put in place by the Democratic Call to the Convention governing how a Presidential nomination is secured and was, quite simply, completely phony. So as symbolism, it's possible that signing this bill at the site of the Democration National Convention might prove to be more appropriate than anyone actually thought. And again, like with Obama's use of the word "milestone", we may be finding that Obama's subconcious and that of Pelosi and other prominent members of the DNC who engineered the signing in Denver, coming clean and telling us the truth without realizing it.
By the way, the eight American flags Axelrod wants onstage with Obama were prominently on display at the signing ceremony. And while there wasn't any Magic Mountain to go with the eight flags, the signing did have a mountain that went along with it. A mountain of debt.
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