I think most of us realize the government must do something to help fix the ailing economy. Where we disagree is the details and as they say the Devil is in the details. My knee-jerk reaction to any politician trying to ram-rod legislation through is that there must be details they are trying to hide. The more quickly they move a bill through the less the chance anyone will read it. To make the plan fool-proof make sure the wording is flowery and verbose. This bill stood at 1,434 pages as of early this morning. Another security measure Pelosi is employing is to shut the opposition out of the process and not let them read the bill.
(You know, I have stated my intention not to demonize my opponents. I strive to assume good motives even when methods might be less than pure. However, I cannot escape my deep down intense distrust of Pelosi. In the past I have jokingly said she was Satan in a skirt but her actions, from turning the lights out on House Republicans during the gas crisis last August, to shutting Republicans out of the stimulus process, demonstrate to me that she has little in the way of good intentions. But I digress.)
Unless you have been hiding under a log, and believe me I have wanted to do so a few times in recent months, you are aware that President Obama has been back on the campaign trail promoting this stimulus plan. Today, I read, that the DNC and Obama’s own, Organizing for America, are using testimonies from selected supporters affected by the bad economy to promote the passage of the bill. Now, I have a problem with this. Not because I lack compassion for those affected by the economic downturn, but because anecdotal evidence is so easily manipulated and falsified. Furthermore, the sole purpose of such stories is emotional manipulation and distraction from the real facts of the plan. Simply put, will the plan work and is it an effective use of taxpayer monies.
As long as I have been voting politicians have used manipulation to push through taxes and other unpopular legislation. The most effective tool in the emotional manipulation tool box is children. I once joked to my friends that you could sell Americans on anything if you simply added the line, “it’s for the children” into the campaign rhetoric. The Florida county I resided in during the 1980s once passed an unpopular gas tax by claiming it would help the children. How many state lotteries have been championed with those words? Logic be damned, it’s for the children!
Have families been displaced from their homes? Yes, and that is very unfortunate. How will the $789.2 billion bill help these poor people in the long-term? This is perhaps the single most important fact and one that has been obfuscated by Democrats. Can we truly know? CNN, like other media sources has attempted to give voters an overview of what is in the plan. The entire article is only 1150 words as compared to the 1,434 page bill, not even a word per page. CNN’s Jeanne Sahadi has no clue what is in the plan and is relying on Congressional sources to summarize for her through various promotional press releases and such. She emphasizes only the money being given away to the poor and fails to demonstrate one point that stimulates business. (Makes sense since liberals are all excited about an upside down stimulus.) The bill, as far as I can tell, seems to show a pandering to the poor and seems to attempt to create as many dependents as possible. The following is based on my reading of the CNN and Wall Street Journal reports on the current package. Feel free to correct me if my understanding is off on anything here.
$116.2 Billion for “Making work pay credit”. This provision “gives” (remember this is the employee’s money yet it is suggested the gov’t is giving the employee money) each “worker” making less than $75,000 regardless of whether the individual pays taxes or not, $400. (Oh whatever happened to the $250,000 income cutoff we heard repeated so often during the campaign? Right, as I predicted to my friends the final cut off was between $40 and $75k – so they came in at the top.)
$14.2 Billion for people who don’t work. (Yes, you read that right. They want to give each unemployed person whether they lost their job, are retired, disabled, or on crack, $250. Nothing like buying votes.)
$69.8 Billion for people who might have to pay the Alternative Minimum Tax. This tax applies to people who normally can afford it, or so the Democrats say, but it seems the tax has been affecting too many people in the lower upper class and hey, why not spread the love and buy a vote or two. After all $70 billion ain’t so bad a price to pay.
$1.7 Billion comes in the form of allowing tax deductions for state and local taxes on qualifying vehicle purchases. (Whoa, this is tantamount to a tax cut! Surely it will be hailed as such and is in the WSJ account. Wow, what a great auto industry bailout plan. Sheez, this is useless.)
$6.6 Billion to expand the home buyer tax credit. (But wait this money is for first-time buyers, how does this help? Well, obviously it will encourage new home sales from yet more people who really cannot afford to be buying a home in the first place. Right? After all, this applies only to households making less than $75k/$150k joint.)
$13.9 Billion for college tax credit. (I am in favor of supporting and encouraging young people to go to college. I don’t, however, like the provision for non-taxpayers to receive money from this without any qualification. The CNN article seems to suggest a Hope Scholarship tie in but I don’t see a clear connection since the Hope has requirements, I don’t see requirements on the American Opportunity Tax Credit.)
$15.6 Billion to temporarily increase the Pell Grant by $500.
14.8 Billion to expand the child tax credit. People earning as little as $3000 could claim this credit. (Now am I not understanding this, doesn’t this mean these people who pay NO taxes will be receiving the full amount I can deduct as a refund? This must be the bottom up stimulus Obama was referring to.)
$4.6 Billion to temporarily increase the earned income tax credit. (Hey this is actually a tax reduction, however, temporary and limited to people who do not create jobs.)
$24.7 Billion in healthcare benefits to those who have lost their benefits. (I doubt very much if this will stimulate the economy, but I do sympathize with those who have to pay those crazy COBRA insurance rates.)
$8.8 Billion for extended unemployment benefits. (Again no stimulus to the economy but a compassionate move I can sympathize with at least.)
$19.9 to increase the food stamp program. (I am truly conflicted on this program. It is completely abused and broke but it has a good purpose. Rather than expand it I’d like to see the program shutdown. I’d like to see farm subsidies used to buy excess crops and government food ditributions direct to the needy rather than this food stamp program that lacks accountability.)
$2.75 Billion other aid to the needy. (Again, no stimulus here. I don’t oppose aid to the poor but in what I read I see little stimulating.)
$87 Billion in temporary Medicaid payments to states. (I feel like a broken record here, where is the stimulus?)
$200 Million for work-study grants. (I see minimal benefit here but what’s $200 million except chump change.)
And finally the part no successful bill can go without, $40.6 Billion for local school districts to balance education budgets, prevent cutbacks and modernize schools. (It’s for the children.)
Now we move to the stimulating parts of the bill:
$30 billion to modernize the electric grid, encourage advanced battery manufacturing, and energy efficiency grants. (Hmm, I’ll believe it when I see it. Somehow environmental concerns will surely drown out nearly all productive use of this $30 B.)
$19 billion in payments to hospitals and physicians who computerize medical-records systems. (Clears throat, Ahem, excuse me but while this will help hospitals and doctors save money it will not add one job to the economy and will in fact result in more unemployment for low paid workers.)
$8.5 billion for the National Institutes of Health biomedical research into diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cancer and heart disease. (Not bad if we see a result, which is a gamble.)
$5 billion for home weatherization grants to low and middle-income families. (This has potential if the money must be spent as it is allocated, and not diverted.)
$6.3 billion for energy efficiency upgrades to federally-supported and public housing, including new insulation, windows and frames. (Sure this will create or save a few jobs.)
$29 billion to modernize Road and bridge infrastructure. (This is one of the few programs I like not for its job creation but because some of our bridges have become death traps waiting to be sprung. Maybe some low-end jobs will be maintained in the process.)
$8.4 billion for public transit improvements and infrastructure investments. (Here I read government waste. The buddy system will absorb this faster than you can say money grab.)
$8 billion for high-speed rail investments. (Having traveled and lived abroad, I can say I would love to see high-speed rail service here. Our culture, however, is simply not conducive to it and this will be a huge failure. I predict most of the money being spent in legal disputes trying to get rights, property, and overcome opposition. — The not-in-my-neighborhood crowd.)
$18 billion in grants and loans for water infrastructure, flood prevention and environmental cleanup. (Projects that would have been pursued with or without the bill.)
This bill is being labelled a “stimulus bill.” The economy, any economy, is driven by business. Businesses employ people, businesses pay taxes and businesses enable individuals to pay taxes and buy products and services from businesses. In short, business is the economy. So any stimulus package should stimulate business activities and encourage job creation within those businesses. There is very little in this bill that actually stimulates business and creates new jobs. Far more emphasis seems placed on education benefits and taxpayer give-aways to those who don’t pay taxes rather thanputting the emphasis where it does lasting good – job creation. But hey, it is not really about stimulating those greedy bastards in business, it’s all for the children.