Unfortunately, except for the price tag, President Obama's big
jobs stimulus speech was nothing new and all too familiar and repetitive.
It really was that repetitive. Obama used some version of "pass this bill" -- 17 times in his stimulus speech.
Obama claimed this latest, now $447 billion spending bill would be paid for:
And everything in this bill will be paid for. Everything.
[. . .]
And here’s the other thing I want the American people to know: The American Jobs Act will not add to the deficit. It will be paid for. And here’s how.
The agreement we passed in July will cut government spending by about $1 trillion over the next 10 years. It also charges this Congress to come up with an additional $1.5 trillion in savings by Christmas. Tonight, I am asking you to increase that amount so that it covers the full cost of the American Jobs Act.
Even the fact checkers at the Associated Press called Obama out on that one:
THE FACTS: Obama did not spell out exactly how he would pay for the measures contained in his nearly $450 billion American Jobs Act but said he would send his proposed specifics in a week to the new congressional supercommittee charged with finding budget savings. White House aides suggested that new deficit spending in the near term to try to promote job creation would be paid for in the future - the "out years," in legislative jargon - but they did not specify what would be cut or what revenues they would use.
Essentially, the jobs plan is an IOU from a president and lawmakers who may not even be in office down the road when the bills come due. Today's Congress cannot bind a later one for future spending. A future Congress could simply reverse it.
Currently, roughly all federal taxes and other revenues are consumed in spending on various federal benefit programs, including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, veterans' benefits, food stamps, farm subsidies and other social-assistance programs and payments on the national debt. Pretty much everything else is done on credit with borrowed money.
So there is no guarantee that programs that clearly will increase annual deficits in the near term will be paid for in the long term.
As to Obama's claim that this stimulus will not "add to the deficit," the fact checkers disagree again:
THE FACTS: It's hard to see how the program would not raise the deficit over the next year or two because most of the envisioned spending cuts and tax increases are designed to come later rather than now, when they could jeopardize the fragile recovery. Deficits are calculated for individual years. The accumulation of years of deficit spending has produced a national debt headed toward $15 trillion. Perhaps Obama meant to say that, in the long run, his hoped-for programs would not further increase the national debt, not annual deficits.
Or as the Wall Street Journal put it:
It will only be paid for if a committee he can't control does his bidding, if Congress puts that into law and if leaders in the future - the ones who will feel the fiscal pinch of his proposals - don't roll it back. . . . [T]here is no guarantee that programs that clearly will increase annual deficits in the near term will be paid for in the long term.
It is important to note two things that Obama did not say in his speech. First, unlike the 2009 boondoggle, Obama did not tell us how may jobs the new stimulus would create. When Mitt Romney unveiled his jobs program, he told us it would create 11.5 million new jobs for Americans within four years.
Second, following the lead of Nancy Pelosi, Obama did not use the word "stimulus" once in 4,000-odd word speech. the Obamacrats' 2009 stimulus was such an epic failure that now they can't even use the "s word."