Saturday, February 7, 2009

A stimulus by any other name...

I've become very tired of hearing soundbites of President Obama trying to "promote" (read "strong-arm and bully") passage of the stimulus package. He sounds like a petulant child who is unused to not getting his way. Although his election was hardly the mandate the Democratic Party spins it as (less than 53% of the popular vote), Obama confidently strode into the White House, anticipating easy passage of all of his pet projects. Now that his so-called stimulus package has met resistance in both the House and Senate, he's throwing a tantrum. When accused that his stimulus bill is actually merely a spending spree, he responded, "What do you think a stimulus is? That's the whole point!" Ummm...no, Mr. Obama. That's not what a stimulus is.

In the most basic sense, a stimulus is targeted spending by the federal government designed to promote economic growth and aid in recovery. It's not an engine to pass every Democratic pet program they've been trying to get through Congress in the last 40 years. $335 million set aside for condoms and sexually explicit "STD prevention" programs is not "stimulus." There's $50 million for the National Endowment of the Arts to help "the arts community throughout the United States;" the NEA has never been what one would consider an engine of economic growth. Head Start receives $2.8 billion--let's get those toddlers to work!

An astounding $20 billion (!!!!) is going to the food stamp program, not to mention billions upon billions of dollars going to other welfare programs. This is the direct opposite of a stimulus. As any econ 101 student can tell you, the more attractive you make unemployment (in this case, by increasing welfare benefits), the more people will choose to be unemployed. Not stimulating.

Obama, Biden and their minions have been tirelessly promoting a quick passage of this bill. I can tell you why they want quick passage: that way, no one truly has a chance to examine the contents. The United States Congress was deliberately designed to work slowly. As annoying as it may be when a critical piece of legislation is held up on one floor or the other, it is far worse to have a shoddy piece of legislation hastily passed through without proper vetting. I can think of three examples (without even trying hard) of poor legislation that was rushed through Congress: the PATRIOT Act, No Child Left Behind, and, most recently, the Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act (another blogpost entirely). In each example, these massive acts of legislation had unintended and very serious negative consequences. When lawmakers are encouraged to bypass the standard vetting procedures, the results are disastrous.

I'm not denying that something needs to happen. But gigantic spending sprees with little or no thought given to the outcome will do nothing more than bring stunning deficits and tighter chains by the federal government. Kudos to those Republicans who voted no on this bill. And shame on those in the Senate who are said to support the revised (but still lacking in stimulus) bill. While I have not been a particularly proud member of the Republican party in the last few years, at least I can say that they made the right decision in this instance. When responding to criticism, Nancy Pelosi famously said, "We won the election; we wrote the bill." That's not change, Nancy. That's more of the same.

5 comments:

Suggestions4Obama.com said...

I do not understand why people are having diffculty understanding. The number of unemployed people (11.6 million) and the unemployment rate (7.6 percent) rose in January. Over the past 12 months, the number of unemployed persons has increased by 4.1 million. The Department of Labor reported today that nonfarm payroll employment fell sharply in January (-598,000) and the unemployment rate rose from 7.2 to 7.6 percent. Payroll employment has declined by 3.6 million since the start of the recession in December 2007, .... most of this mess happening only in past three months! And some wonder Obama is pushing so hard for a stimulus package. Is the Herbert Hoover approach, do nothing, all we need, leading us to a twelve year depression ??

Chelsey said...

This sounds like a canned response. It doesn't address any of the issues I brought up in the article and is completely irrelevant. It sounds like a political watchdog that's searching for anything negative about Obama and responding, since "Suggestions4Obama.com" is obviously not an avid reader of my blog.

shelley said...

I have wondered what you thought of all of this, since you are the only economist I know personally... Good points.

Jen Kesler said...

Amen, Sister!

Yep, it's a dumb mess that will be passed downed through all generations of our posterity...pretty sad! Don't even get me started on money sent to foreign countries to fund abortions (I know that's not part of the stimulus, but come on!). Why can't that money stay here and go to families that are more than willing and able to adopt children?

I want to know why Obama had such a huge inaugural shin dig!?!Approximately 140 million was spent on all of the "parties" held in Obama's honor. If he's so intent on taking care of business, why didn't he cancel all of it for the "good" of our country???? Oh, wait a minute, maybe all of his fancy celebrations were supposed to make us feel good in such a troubling time? NOT!

Ashley said...

I have no idea what you said in that entire article, since I know nothing about economics. But it sounds very smart, and I don't agree with practically any of Obama's views, so I completely agree with you Chelsey.