Photo from AP Photo by J. Scott Applewhite from DailyLife.com
Transparency in Government, the much touted “change” that Obama supporters heartily cheered about, appears to have disappeared in light of excuses regarding “a need to act fast” (or: Chicken Little: “The Sky is Falling”). A downloadable copy of the bill that was in the House is still available on-line, yet the Senate Version, to which Pelosi promised to give a 48 hour public window (transparency), is not yet online, and was not online in time for the late, Friday the 13th, Senate Vote. What this means, in plain English, is that the Senators who voted for that Act, had no clue as to the contents. There was insufficient time to read the bill - and those Partisan Democrats who signed off on this Act, did so blindly.
Regardless of a string of broken promises in less than two months of the new administration, the Stimulus appeared to be a panic driven act, that greedy and ideological legislatures, taking advantage of the hue and cry a nervous and apparently inept White House (not the public), added untold sums of debt through the addition of pet projects that, for all intents and purposes, could have been shelved for a later date, until the economy stabilized. What prompted the addition of pet programs and projects having nothing at all to do with stimulating the economy, rather creating bigger government (37 new bureaucracies at last count), is anyone’s guess, but, with those legislatures that live and die by the polls, it is a good bet that had they not acted now to add their favorites, they may not get another chance.
An outline of what this “Act” contains, is available at The G.O.P. House, however, this is an incomplete list due to last minute add-on’s that took place in the Senate – the details however, are bone-chilling to anyone who has ever balanced a checkbook, or had to use fiscal restraint in order to: fill a gas tank, pay the mortgage or buy groceries (average working Americans). These line items (from the G.O.P. House link above) are noted as Questionable or Non-Stimulative Spending; and include some worthy programs, however, those are questionable only due to timing, and the others are outright waste.
Questionable or Non-Stimulative Spending:
• $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts
• $2 billion for the Neighborhood Stabilization Fund, providing funds to organizations such as ACORN, which has been accused of practicing unlawful voter registration in recent elections
• $10 million for the inspection of canals in urban areas
• $100 million for grants to small shipyards
• $198 million to authorize payments to certain Filipino veterans from WWII
• $300 million for the Energy Efficient Appliance Rebate Program
• $2 billion to support the manufacturing of advanced vehicle batteries
• $1 billion for Community Development Block Grants
• $1.3 billion for Amtrak, including $450 million for a new rail security grant program not included in either the House-passed or the Senate-passed bills
• $300 million for federal procurement of plug-in and fuel efficient vehicles
• $8 billion for a High Speed Passenger Rail Program, after the House did not include any funding for the program and the Senate included $2 billion, which will fund at least one project from Las Vegas to Los Angeles
• $15 million for historic preservation at historically black colleges and universities
• $170 million for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to research the causes, effects, and ways to mitigate climate change
• $200 million for Americorps and other paid "volunteerism" programs
• $400 million for NASA to accelerate climate research missions
• $5.5 billion for federal buildings (GSA), including $4.5 billion to convert federal buildings into "high-performance green buildings" and $450 million for a new headquarters for the Department of Homeland Security.
• $210 million for a new grant program to modify and upgrade local fire stations
• $142 million for the Coast Guard to alter or remove 4 obstructive bridges
• $25 million for the Smithsonian Institution for maintenance backlogs
• $1 billion for expenses in conjunction with the 2010 decennial census
• $650 million for Digital-to-Analog Converter Box Coupons
• $1 billion for a Prevention and Wellness Fund, which can be used for sexually transmitted disease (STD) education and prevention programs at the CDC
• $500 million to replace a 30-year old computer system at the Social Security Administration
• $500 million for a health professions training program-funding which an earlier committee report said were allocated because "a key component of attaining universal health care reform will be ensuring the supply of primary care providers."
On February 4th, Rasmussen polls reported that a mere 37% of the general public supported the Stimulus Bill, subsequent emergency polling by White House media source CBS showed a conveniently sharp increase in support for the Bill. Which begs the question: “Did CBS confine its demographics to Congress?”
Should the general public’s feelings regarding this lack of transparency, pushed through on a Friday night, massive spending boondoggle, be in line with Rasmussen, then the haste with which those ideologues voted is clear. They hope that their constituents’ will either forget they voted “Yea”, or that somehow, this will work in time to save their Senate and Congressional behinds. The clock is ticking. What is most amusing is the headlines accusing the Republicans of not cooperating on the Stimulus – giving Republicans in every Congressional district possible ammunition in 2010. It will, at the very least, be difficult for those in the dog house with their constituents to explain how on earth George Bush prevented them from voting “No”. Many may not care a whit, counting on the time-tested voting blocks of African-American’s, Hispanics and Catholics to carry them blindly to another term – that said, there have been some recent changes over at the G.O.P. that may change minds, specifically in those demographics that are considered “owned” by the D.N.C. (See aggressive new R.N.C. Chair Michael Steele, who happens to be Catholic (a much sought after large voting block), African-American, and a technology savvy and likable guy.
In other words, the press and those Democrats in the Congress and Legislature who blindly followed Pelosi and Reid down that yellow-brick road laden with ideological, partisan future debt will play a hand in the fastest turn-around of a party’s fortunes in modern history. The public is aware, and even the proposed Fairness Doctrine, will not keep those suffering in the trenches (taxpayers) from voting. One has to remember that when Reagan clocked Carter (Massachusetts voted for Reagan twice), it was without: talk radio or Fox News – it was word of mouth and disgust with the Democrats out-of-control spending and a weakening economy (never mind those foreign policy debacles) that brought changes to the nation, first the White House and then both houses.
This Massachusetts Conservative understands that history has a funny way of repeating itself, and fully expects a very interesting and competitive 2010 election. The season has begun in the Bay State, with names already floated to replace Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick (D): Scott Brown, Brad Jones, Karyn Polito, Michael Sullivan, Lou Evangelidis, and Bruce Tarr .
Given the fact that Massachusetts does tend to vote when over-taxed, (50 plus percent of the electorate are “unenrolled”) any one of the aforementioned would be able to give Patrick the boot in 2010. This trend may go towards the Senate and Congressional seats that will be up for re-election in 2010, including Ted Kennedy’s – the newly elected Mass. G.O.P. chair Jennifer Nassour, is of like mind with the Party Chair, Michael Steele, who, upon gaining the Party Chair, made the statement that his “friends in the North east” will no longer be abandoned. At that time, neither Steele, nor Nassour had the benefit of the press branding Republicans as anti-stimulus and the subsequent distrust of the bill by those that vote, on both sides of the aisle. This current administration may go so far as to change many once-safe “Blue” states – “Red”.
To read the last version available (House version) as of 7:47 am on Valentine’s Day 2009: visit: The Library of Congress which will give you a link to download the last version directly from the Congressional Printing office. The PDF is 1400 plus pages long, and, when one cuts through the “legalese”, the sheer amounts devoted to non-stimulating projects, boggles the mind. In addition, it was hinted at that this version, was not final, and that more was added behind closed doors (hence, no public notice and an inability of a Senator, even had it been Clark Kent, to read through the pages in time to make an informed decision for their constituents.
Image from: Patriot from patriot.eponym.com
Hero of the Week: Rep. John Boehner (YouTube Video of his House Speech 2/13/09)