BOHICA - Bend over, here it comes again.
As everyone knows, the Senate worked late last night to line up a "deal" on the Porkulus bill between three Republicans (Collins and Snowe of Maine, and Specter of Pennsylvania) and representatives of the remaining 56 Democrats and 2 Independents (Lieberman of Connecticut and Sanders of Vermont). Based on what I saw, the other 38 Republicans don't want any part of it.
The "deal" supposedly knocks down the cost of the $820 billion House bill (which every Republican in the House voted against) to something like $780 billion, which is actually down from close to $880 billion that the Senate version started with. Except for one thing; the cost of the "deal" has been determined to be actually $827 billion, which still makes it higher than even the one passed by Democrats in the House. Jim Hoft notes a chilling statement made by Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) in the aftermath of the "deal", which supposedly took out over $100 billion of crap [emphasis from original]:
Talk of cuts in proposed education funds triggered a counterattack from advocates of school spending as well as unhappiness among Democrats.
One, Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, told reporters he and others hoped that some of the funds on the chopping block would be restored next week when negotiations open on a House-Senate compromise.
Isn't it great? Collins, Snowe, and Specter are working with the Dems to cut out only about 12% of the garbage, and Levin and the rest of the Dems are already working on how to put it back in.
And the dirty little secret is that the spending the government wants to do will be done with money that doesn't exist; the whole thing is being financed. The total in interest will be roughly $300 billion, roughly 30% (that's worse than most credit cards) to whichever country loans the federal government the money. While many of the 38 Republicans make a mention of the interest that will have to be paid as part of this, which then hikes up the cost to nearly $1.2 trillion, it's never spoken by the Democrats, not even President Barack Obama. There's never any mention by the authors of this how it is to be paid back. It is why so many in Congress call this the Mult-Generational Theft Act since the cost will be passed on to future generations. Even the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), in a letter sent to Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH), believes this bill will, in the long term, negatively impact America's Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Consider this also. Work still needs to be done on an omnibus spending bill to complete the budgetary requirements of the federal government for fiscal year 2009, which began four months ago. Next week,
Tax Cheat in Chief Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is going to introduce what he needs for the next round of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP III). Nobody really knows what the cost of that will be; figures like $400 billion, $500 billion, $ 1 trillion, $2 trillion, and higher, have been kicked around. As with all other new spending, this will come from borrowed money, as did TARP I and TARP II, and nothing is being said about how it will be paid back.
This whole thing is a mess, and has a potential of creating a real disaster. By my own estimation, I'm guessing the final price on the tag will be about $1.5 trillion. With the out-and-out stupidity of the way the federal government does things, I see this value as more than possible; it is very probable. Let me give you a couple of examples.
Nearly two weeks ago, the Senate introduced S. 328 to delay the transition from analog to digital TV conversion by four months. It passed that body by unanimous consent. However, the House tried to bypass their normal rules for legislation and vote on it, which then requires a 2/3 majority, not just a simple one; needless to say, S. 328 didn't pass. After S. 328 failed in the House, the Senate introduced the same bill under a new number, S. 352, passed it again by unanimous consent, and the House went through their normal procedures and passed it this past Wednesday. As I had mentioned here, the reasons for the delay were given as:
To help, the government was providing vouchers, for the purchase of the appropriate equipment, to those who were still running their TVs through the analog process being phased out. Guess what? In the typical manner of an inept government operation, they ran out of money. Not only that, many of those vouchers had expiration dates, and a large number who received them never used them prior to the vouchers expiring (for a variety of reasons; some couldn’t find the equipment locally, some were lazy).
Over $1 billion dollars were appropriated originally to fund these vouchers that many people let expire. According to the sponsor of the bill, West Virginia Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller (when making a speech about the original Senate bill), about 21 million households in this country would be negatively effected by the original transition date of February 17. I have no idea where he came up with that number since he doesn't bother to explain it. Per the Census Bureau, there are about 112 million households in this country, meaning that around 20% may not be ready for the transition, although nobody knows if that's right either. Since S. 352 is a Senate bill, and appropriations can't be introduced in the Senate, there's no money for new vouchers in the bill. Guess where that's coming from? If you guessed the Porkulus monstrosity, give yourself a cookie. An additional 50% from the original appropriation, about $650 million, is being added to Porkulus to fund the new vouchers for the delay. As I had mentioned in my other post:
Even though the transition is four years in the making, I have to ask, where in the last two years was all that great oversight by the Democratic-controlled 110th Congress? Where was Mr. Oversight, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA)? Oh that’s right; on fishing expeditions, over 600 of them, into the "criminality" of the Bush administration.
And that brings us to TARP. President Bush's former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson lied to the American people about what he was going to use the TARP money for. Not only that, the 110th Congress made sure the oversight into what Paulson and his hacks were doing with those funds was either negligible or absent.
Wouldn't you know it, surprise, surprise, surprise. To their "shock" and "horror", Congress found out that Treasury paid out $254 billion for assets worth $176 billion, an overpayment of 30%. And yet, and yet,
Tax Cheat in Chief Treasury Secretary Geithner, someone else who is the "only man for the job", is getting ready to ask for another ungodly and unknown amount to finish what Paulson started, money that, as I had mentioned before, doesn't exist.
So, let's play a little game. Let's assume that the bill Obama will finally sign will be roughly $850 billion after the conference to resolve the differences between the House and the Senate get done with it (with the stuff Sen. Levin says will be added back in). Let's also assume that the amount of tax credits will be roughly $240 billion (the House version had the figure at $185 billion, and the Senate version had $255 billion, which are shown in the first two CBO links above; I took the House figure, and factored in a 30% overpayment, like with TARP). That means that $610 billion will actually be spending. Add the 30% interest to all of it and the total is $1.1 trillion. If we take how Congress handled the DTV transition, we can easily make the assumption that the cost of the spending portion will actually increase 50%, or another $305 billion. That means the actually spending portion alone could very likely be roughly $915 billion. Add another $90 billion in interest payments on top of all of this, and what we are looking at is a $1.5 trillion just for this bill. That's on top of the regular spending for the rest of the year that hasn't been passed, TARP III, and all the other goodies the 111th Congress has on their wishlist.
Porkulus, and Rush Limbaugh gave it a great name, is just that, pork, about $1 trillion worth by my estimation. President Obama wanted Republicans to vote for it, but didn't even attempt to get Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) or Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to listen to Republicans who want the garbage removed from this bill. Even the "deal" is nothing more than political grandstanding by squishy Republicans to stay on the good side of the Democratic majorities and the liberal media. Obama's pathetic, whiny speech the other night, to a bunch of Democrats no less, was nothing more than a continuation of his Presidential campaign with his blaming of President Bush and Republicans for why this bill isn't a done deal yet, despite the fact that he is already the President. What he doesn't want is for him and the Democrats to own the whole thing so that they can't be blamed when it blows up in their faces. Hopefully, Senate Republicans will, for the most part, let them have it. Better yet would be to have Collins, Snowe, and Specter decide fiscal conservatism actually matters and votes against ending the debate on it, forcing Democrats to work with Republicans on getting this right (wishful thinking, I know).
"I'll tell you my impression. We really in this last election, when I say we...the Democrats, I think pushed it as far as we can to the end of the fleet, didn't say it, but we implied it. That if we won the Congressional elections, we could stop the war. Now anybody was a good student of Government would know that wasn't true. But you know, the temptation to want to win back the Congress, we sort of stretched the facts...and people ate it up."
Even though Kanjorski voted against Porkulus, the above words he said still sticks in my craw. When I hear Obama say things like he did the other night, I remember these words of Kanjorski to remind me how Democrats work. One other thing does as well. The city of Chicago apparently has a bunch of so-called "shovel-ready" projects set to go when the money starts flowing in. King Richard Shortshanks* (Mayor Richard Daley) doesn't want to show anyone this list of projects:
"Yes, we do, we have our list, we've been talking to people. We did not put that out publicly because once you start putting it out publicly, you know, the newspapers, the media is going to be ripping it apart," Daley said.
"It's very controversial. Yes, we have ready projects from the Board of Education to the City Colleges to the Park District to the CTA and the city of Chicago. Oh yes. Us and New York decided not to do that. We thought we could go directly into the federal bureaucracies and the different departments," the mayor added.
Later, Daley was asked why he wasn't being more transparent.
"Read some of your newspapers. Heh heh," he replied.
What's worse, Daley will be re-elected again and again despite the fact that he acts more like Benito Mussolini all the time, and nobody will hold him accountable.
And if anyone thinks Barack Obama will, think again. Daley is Obama's mealticket. This type of politics is what was put into the White House. And America will be the loser for it.
*As coined by Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass.