Editorial -- Barry MacDonald
Are Americans in the dark? Do we have a clue yet as to how badly we are being governed? It is hard to believe that the brazen behavior of Democrats will remain unnoticed for long.
At a recent news conference on health care reform House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) was asked whether he thought members should be required to read the bill before voting. CNCSNews reported that he laughed:
I'm laughing because . . . I don't know how long this bill is going to be, but it's going to be a very long bill. . . . If every member pledged to not vote for it if they hadn't read it in its entirety, I think we would have very few votes.
Bad trends have gotten worse. Republican failings were revealed in their lust for earmarks. Republican squandered their credibility as the party of fiscal restraint during President Bush's tenure, and now how will they regain lost trust when Americans need them most?
Republicans have set bad precedents, but the Democrats are something else.
It is becoming routine for Democrats to push though bills of immense consequence without lawmakers taking the time to read the contents. House members and Senators had no time the read the Stimulus Bill before it was rushed through in February.
So far we have spent $845 billion on the Iraq war, according to William Beach of the Heritage Foundation. The Stimulus bill passed in February allocated $878 billion. Two weeks into the Obama administration the President and Congress allocated more than was spent after eight years of fighting in Iraq.
Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) wrote "100 Stimulus Projects: A Second Opinion on the Stimulus." He writes:
In my estimation, Congress chose the wrong approach to stimulating the economy by spending money we don't have on things we don't need. Real stimulus includes lowering the tax and regulatory burden on hardworking families and businesses, which creates good jobs for the long term.
Senator Coburn asks, What kinds of jobs are being created? Are they seasonal and temporary? Are the projects real improvements or "pet projects of politicians and lobbyists"? The following are some of the projects he discovered in the bill:
* John Murtha Airport in Johnson/Cambria County will get $800,000 in funds, even though the airport sees only 20 passengers a day. The airport will get a new runway and a motorized carousel for baggage.
* A 13-foot tunnel, a wildlife crossing for turtles, alligators, otters, snakes, beavers, and lizards will be built under a highway in Lake Jackson, Florida, for $3.4 million. Fences guiding the animals to the tunnel will also be built.
* Optima Lake in Oklahoma, which loses 100 percent of its water to evaporation, will receive $1.15 million in stimulus money for a guardrail. The rail is intended to protect people who have no reason for being there.
* The Social Security Administration admitted to sending out $2.5 million in stimulus money to 10,000 dead people.
* The Town of Union, New York, will receive $580,000 in stimulus money to prevent homelessness, even though the city did not request the money and does not have a homelessness problem.
Though President Obama promised to bring accountability and transparency to government, he and the Democrats have produced the opposite. The details of each project were to be posted on-line, but that has not happened. Senator Coburn writes that it is "nearly impossible" for the average taxpayer to find out how stimulus money is being spent.
President Obama said in February that we were in a "full-blown crisis" and a failure to act could "turn a crisis into a catastrophe" from which the nation might not recover. He said "a new wave of innovation, activity and construction will be unleashed all across America" by the Stimulus Bill. He claimed that 3.5 million jobs would be created. His economic advisors predicted that unemployment would stay under 8 percent if the Stimulus bill was passed but would rise to 9 percent by 2010 if nothing were done.
As of June the unemployment rate was at 9.5 and the end of the recession is nowhere in sight. Now Obama advisors say the economy will get worse.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the Obama administration will preside over a $1.85 trillion deficit in 2009, quadrupling President Bush's 2008 deficit of $482 billion, including Bush's bailouts to financial institutions and the auto industry.
The CBO estimates that within 10 years the nation's debt, including the growth of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, will double to 82 percent of GDP. By 2038 the debt will be 200 percent of GDP if government doesn't curtail spending.
On June 26 the House passed a massive climate-change bill called the American Clean Energy and Security Act, or the Waxman-Markey bill after Reps. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Edward Markey, (D-MA). Once again no one was able to read the bill before voting on it. Members couldn't have read the bill even if they had wanted to. According to Jonathan Adler writing for National Review Online:
When Waxman-Markey finally hit the floor, there was no actual bill. Not one single copy of the full legislation that would, hours later, be subject to a final vote was available to members of the House. The text made available to some members of Congress still had "placeholders" -- blank provisions to be filled in by subsequent language.
At 3 a.m. on the Friday morning before the vote, a 310-page amendment was added to the bill. The purpose of the amendment was to win the vote of one veteran Democrat, Marcy Kaptur, who represents coal-producing Ohio, a state certain get hit hard by caps on the use of coal. The amendment commits $3.5 billion to the state of Ohio for a new federal power authority, similar to Washington state's Bonneville Power Administration. The money will be used for loans to renewable energy and economic development projects.
Reps. Waxman and Markey were willing to spend $3.5 billion to secure the vote of one wavering Congressperson. If the energy bill does eventually pass the Senate and become law Ohioans especially will lose jobs and see their energy bills rise as they lose coal-fired power plants.
There hasn't been much reporting on the contents of the Waxman-Markey bill, but there is one excellent article written by Stephen Spruiell and Kevin Williamson for National Review Online: "A Garden of Piggish Delights." They write:
Two main things to understand about Waxman-Markey: first, it will not reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, at least not at any point in the near future. The inclusion of carbon offsets, which can be manufactured out of thin air and political imagination, will eliminate most of the the demands that the legislation puts on industry, though in doing so it will manage to drive up the prices consumers pay for every product that requires energy for its manufacture -- which is to say, for everything. Second, it represents a worse abuse of the public trust and purse than the stimulus and the bailouts put together. Waxman-Markey creates a permanent new regime in which environmental romanticism and corporate welfare are mixed together to form political poison. From comic bureaucratic power grabs . . . to the creation of new welfare programs for Democratic constituencies to, above all, massive giveaways for every financial, industrial, and political lobby imaginable, this bill would permanently deform American politics and economic life.
Were we not led to believe by Pesident Obama that lobbyists would have little influence during his time in office? *
"A fondness for power is implanted, in most men, and it is natural to abuse it, when acquired." --Alexander Hamilton