The venerable Oxford English Dictionary defines “stimulus” as “something that promotes activity, interest, or enthusiasm.” If, as appears almost certain, the federal government enacts legislation appropriating more than $800 billion in a so-called “stimulus package, ” the next edition of Oxford might properly include further definitions for the already-overused term: “any massive federal spending program designed to funnel taxpayer monies into pet political projects; a term employed to disguise massive federal spending programs designed to funnel taxpayer monies into pet political projects, but labeled ’stimulus’ in order to secure votes necessary for passage.”
Of course, as is par for the course in proposing and enacting modern federal legislation, congressional leaders have attached a high-sounding and misleading moniker to this latest and largest ever so-called “stimulus package.”
The legislation, which passed the House last week and the “senior” chamber Tuesday, is entitled “The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.”
How clever be these members of Congress. They know you can never go wrong by including the word, “American” or “America, ” in the title of any legislation, since there is then always the implication that anyone who votes against the bill is, of course, un-American.
But the true evil of this spending boondoggle is not so much its title as its substance. Virtually every pet project and constituency of the Democratic Party will be at the receiving end of the billions of dollars rushing down this latest federal money sluice. The disaster that is this “recovery and reinvestment act” is made far worse by the fact that every single one of its more than $800 billion bills is borrowed.
When all is said and done according to the government’s own estimate, this spending measure will add more than a trillion dollars to our national debt which already tops $10.2 trillion.
Moreover, this appropriations vehicle comes on top of last year’s “Emergency Economic Stabilization Act” — the so-called “bailout” — and the now small, $152 billion 2008 “Economic Stimulus Act.” Thus does the true magnitude of the damage to the value of our currency and to the future economic health of our nation start to come into focus.
State and local government officials, including our own here in the Peach State, are already gleefully counting the billions they are slated to receive from Washington’s “reinvestment” largess.
These are the same spendthrift state and local governments that have failed for decades to keep their own spending under control.
Throwing even more federal money their way simply rewards their irresponsibility, and further disguises the necessity for state and local governments to rein in their own spending.
Some of the details of the “reinvestments” in the House’s version of the stimulus package are truly amazing. For example:
> A billion dollars will continue to subsidize the perennial money loser, Amtrak; $20 billion expands the already bloated food stamp program.
> About $2 billion is diverted from the wallets of hard-working Americans to subsidize childcare. Some $2.8 billion is slipped to global warming advocacy programs.
> $600 million will buy more and newer cars for government bureaucrats, along with $44 million to refurbish the Department of Agriculture, $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts, and $150 million to spruce up the Smithsonian buildings.
> Another $650 million is earmarked for helping consumers convert analog TVs to digital (because the government earlier decided to halt analog television broadcasting). More than $400 million promotes anti-smoking programs and programs to fight sexually transmitted diseases. Those are just the tip of the fiscal iceberg.
There are minor differences in the House and Senate versions, but overall the amount of money spent and the amount of pork in each is outrageous and harmful; and besides, the House-Senate conference may very well add back in what the Senate took out but really just shifted around, in a typical example of congressional legerdemain.
When all the dust settles, the only thing this fiscal monstrosity will “stimulate” is making American citizens, businesses and state and local government even more dependent on Uncle Sam than before; even as we and our children and grandchildren are rendered the poorer.