Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Scenes From a Spending Spree

The House stimulus bill recalls those old TV game shows with contestants racing the clock to fill shopping carts, items spilling into the aisles in a mad dash to the checkout counter.

In the House, $200 million to re-sod the National Mall and $200 million to extend Medicare to cover family planning services fell out yesterday as Democrats keep ransacking the shelves from what the livid Wall Street Journal calls their "40-year wish list."

Is this the only way to revive a sinking economy--to rush through 647 pages of $825 billion in scattershot spending? The President talks about transparency and accountability, but it's hard to see those elements in a grab bag of what he himself has denounced as "throwing money" at the economy.

The funds for infrastructure are beyond dispute but make up only a small fraction of the whole.

“They keep comparing this to Eisenhower, but he proposed a $500 billion highway system, and they’re going to put $30 billion” in roads and bridges, says the ranking member of the House Transportation Committee. “How farcical can you be? Give me a break.”

After eight years of Bush inaction and deadlock, the exhilaration of rapid movement is understandable, but does everything have to be done at once?

If Democrats have to give up on bipartisanship, as seems inevitable, they should be thinking twice about ramming through a bill with booby traps that are sure to explode in their faces and undermine long-term fixes for the economy.

By all means, start the flow of defensible government spending, provide loans for hard-pressed states and municipalities, and strong-arm the banks into using bailout money for lending, but can't we slow down the drunken-sailor act? The hangover could be painful in the extreme.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You are right about the spending spree...
While in other world news today Reuters reports that the Chinese premier blames the world financial crisis on the U.S. "debt-financed spending binge and blind pursuit of profit."
Isn't it ironic, now, that the cure for a debt-financed spending binge is yet more of the same?