Ranting About the Right Things and the Recovery Act

Beltway Republican

In Commentary: Stimulus bill a sorry spectacle, CNN’s Jack Cafferty spells out some issues he has with the recently passed Recovery Act. Cafferty is actually a pretty good old school muckraker and makes some good points.

*1,073-page bill was passed before Congress could read it

True enough. President Obama said that he would post new legislation and allow the public and Congress time to read it and didn’t. No one except for a few wonks would have read it anyway, but appearances matter and that’s something Democrats and the President might want to remember in the future. Capital Gains and Games wrote this about how things generally work in Congress,

Republicans have a point when they complain about the inordinate length of the bill–1,400 pages or thereabouts…

Would a shorter bill have made it better?  At less than 3 pages and at a cost of $700 billion, was the original version of the TARP that Hank Paulson sent to Congress a gem?  Should the legalese needed to make the changes in the stimulus bill been dropped or shortened so that many provisions would have been subject to court challenges and the money never spent?

What Clive seems to be saying is that, at 1400 pages, the bill could not possibly have been reviewed in detail by many members of Congress before they voted for it given the rush to get it done.  What he doesn’t say is that most representatives and senators generally only review the parts of any bill that are important to them for some reason.  They may look at the parts that pertain to their committee assignment or which are relevant to their district or state.  More likely, they’ve had their personal or committee staff look at the bill and tell them whether there’s anything they need to be concerned about.

Put another way. Democrats read enough to know they wanted to pass the stimulus package and Republicans, having received their marching orders from Rush Limbaugh, for the most part voted against it. How dare Jack say that the same people that ran up a 10 trillion dollar deficit, have signed America up for the 12 billion dollar a month Iraq welfare fund and usually like to pass legislation in the dead of night didn’t know what they were voting against.We live in a country where most citizens don’t even know what the U.S. Constitution says. If the public will not take a few minutes to read the document that lays out the framework for our democracy, why is there reason to think they would read every line of a spending bill.

What would have been funny is a Jay Leno inspired question and answer video of these self righteous hypocrites hanging out with Michelle Malkin protesting the Recovery Act. They’re waving their signs in protest, yet other then name calling never get down to exactly what they are against, why or valid statistics to support their claims

Is there pork in that there bill. Depends on how you define pork. One thing that Jack might have read wrong or not understand, thus designates as an example of pork is the provisions for spending on mass transit and high speed railroads – “Eight billion dollars for high-speed rail lines, including a proposed line between Las Vegas and Los Angeles.” Politico’s David Rogers Catches Republicans Lying About High-Speed Rail, Won’t Call Them Liars

The $787.2 billion economic recovery bill — to be signed by President Barack Obama on Tuesday — dedicates $8 billion to high-speed rail, most of which was added in the final closed-door bargaining at the instigation of White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel. […] The same Maine and Pennsylvania Republican moderates who had criticized Obama’s school construction initiative were more accepting of the rail funds, since the Northeast corridor has a major stake in more improvements. To help pay for the added cost, a business tax break — providing a five-year carry back for net operating losses — was narrowed to keep the focus more on smaller firms with receipts of less than $15 million.

As Matthew points out a high speed rail just to connect LA and Vegas might be a poor idea, using Occam’s razor, it would be good to have such a link as part of a larger high speed rail initiative. Some people think that any money spent on mass transit is pork and there is nothing I could say to convince them otherwise. In the long view, considering energy costs and the benefits to business in both cities one could make the case that it provides short term benefits by way of jobs and long term benefits for business and the environment. Let’s put that $8 billion in perspective. A few military officers seemed to have misplaced or embezzled $50 billion dollars in Iraq reconstruction funds.

Jack doesn’t think the ginormous tax cuts are enough. He and others might want to consider economist Paul Krugman’s thoughts on the subject. We had a tax cut stimulus package last year. They didn’t work too well at stimulating the economy obviously.

Cafferty uses a different calculus then I do, but we both come up with conclusions that are in the same ball park,

The biggest problem of all is the stimulus bill may not be nearly enough. And if the president has to come back asking for more, the next time might not be so easy.

Maybe I’m being too cynical about people’s quest for knowledge so here is a link to exactly what was in the Recovery Act. See the Conference totals for the final amounts agreed upon by both Houses.

Burris’ Ethics Bubble Bursts, Opening Door For Expulsion. It would be nice if he would simply resign and apologize.

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