Ahhhhh (sigh of relief). Whether it's called a crap sandwich, the Generational Theft Act, or (as coined by Bob Owens) the Multi-Generational Financial Rape Act, House Republicans acted like conservatives; everyone of them voted against it, along with 11 Democrats. The boondoggle passed; ultimately, though, Republicans in the House didn't fall for all that shmoozing being done by President Barack Obama. While it still has to go through the Senate (where the real Republican squishes exist), and chances are good that a different bill will be passed (meaning there will need to be a conference consisting of members of both chambers to resolve the differences), for the moment House Democrats own this mess. And they can have it.
The whole point of this bill is to stimulate the economy, primarily through spending money for what Democrats call infrastructure, government construction projects (usually roads and bridges), along with what Democrats call tax cuts, which are actually government checks (welfare) disguised as tax credits (this was done a year ago and stimulated nothing). Now, I referred to it as a mess; however, if this bill as written somehow becomes law, and it works in actually helping restore the economy, then Obama and the Democrats should get all the credit for turning it around. But if you look at the bill, it is easy to believe that it will do nothing of the sort.
Infrastructure projects of the kind in the bill are years going from the drawing board to the time a shovel is first inserted into the ground, forget about when it ends. Via Instapundit, Ilya Somin wonders what happened to the last infrastructure bill, the $286 billion transportation appropriations passed in 2005. Based on my reading of the Congressional Budget Office report outlining this $825 billion monstrosity, about 7%, roughly between $50 and $60 billion, goes towards projects having to do with infrastructure and possibly providing new jobs to do them; not only that, less than half of that will actually get spent by the time of the next mid-term elections in 2010. All of the rest of the bill, well over $750 billion, contains spending on the Democrats' wish list they've been adding to for the last 20 years. Republicans were completely shut out of this bill. If anything, San Fran Nan, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), did Republicans a favor by taking ownership of the whole thing.
Oh, but that isn't even the best part of it. In fact, this isn't even the next to best part of it. The federal budget was already running a deficit before the financial crisis came to a head last September, which we are still in today. Then when the bailouts took off after TARP was passed (which Henry Paulson turned into a joke since he didn't do one thing he said needed to be done), a trillion dollars was magically added to the debt since the money for them had to be borrowed. With the porkfest built in by Democrats in H.R. 1, there will be an additional $825 billion spent with money that doesn't exist and has to be borrowed. What isn't mentioned by the Democrats (nor is it in the CBO report) is that there is over $300 billion in interest on the borrowing. That brings the total pricetag to anywhere between $1.1 and $1.2 trillion dollars, of which 5% at the most goes to what the bill was designed to do, put Americans to work. I'll bet if you ask a Congressional Democrat where this whole job creation thing is, you will either get a triangulating answer that actually has nothing to do with the question, or the Democrat will walk away saying they are too busy to answer.
Ah, but there is a best part. Nothing of this bill actually addresses the root cause of the problem, getting banks to lend money which would allow private industry to put Americans to work instead of having public money go only towards government work or contracts. Not one red cent (or a cent of another color) goes towards that purpose, not even the so-called tax credits. In fact, the new Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, following in the footsteps of the failure Henry Paulson, is still working on a way to spend the second half of the $700 billion in TARP money. And then there's talk of spending somewhere between $3 and $4 trillion (that trillion is getting thrown around a lot, isn't it?) to buy toxic assets with money that doesn't exist (as has been the case for a long time), something TARP was originally supposed to do but hasn't. Something else doesn't get mentioned either; nowhere does Geithner or any other Democrat make the case to cut tax rates or cut spending. Those four words just don't seem to exist in the vocabulary of leftist liberals, despite the fact that every time either has been done in the face of economic turmoil, the economy rebounds. And with the Multi-Generational Financial Rape Act that will increase federal spending like it does (depending on what the final bill looks like), cutting spending is already out of the question.
Conservatism amongst Republicans had been getting iffier and iffier, especially as Senate Republicans have voted to confirm Geithner to his position, and Republicans in the Senate Judiciary Committee have moved Eric Holder's nomination to be Obama's Attorney General on to the full Senate. I am so glad House Republicans stood as one to oppose this travesty, even though it did pass. Let's hope all of the Republicans in the Senate find their inner conservatism, although I wouldn't hold my breath.