Seeing as how we are a think tank, I sat down today to think about the stimulus package as passed by the House last week. Quickly, as it is wont to do, my mind wandered to the subject of food. I tried thinking about the trillion dollar stimulus package again. Then more food. Stimulus… hot dog… stimulus… hot dog.
Then it came to me – my brain was reminding me of something. A while ago, I read about the “hot dog rollup,” an attempt by some college kids to come up with the most unhealthy food of all time. This coronary delight (to which was ascribed the name “The Last Supper” by my wife) included a hot dog rolled in bacon, then rolled in egg-soaked ground beef and topped with butter and cheese. For a full play-by-play account of the creation of this Frankenweiner, go here. (Those who lived after eating it give at a thumbs-up.)
In effect, the stimulus bill is the legal equivalent of the hot dog rollup. To call the bill “pork” does a disservice to swine across the nation. It is comprised of special interest favors, heaped on top of contributor paybacks, slathered with a healthy dose of social engineering, all on a buttery roll. Charles Krauthammer has called it “the largest earmark bill – earmark, but without stealth, just out in the open-of special interests, favors, parochial interests, in American history.”
Take, for instance, the “Buy America” provisions of the bill that require steel paid for by stimulus funds to come from American sources. As people who actually do business in these areas have pointed out, this provision is almost certain to spark a trade war that could depress the economy even further. Most members of Congress probably think “Smoot-Hawley” is a company that makes canned apricots. We’ve been down this road before, with disastrous results.
Yet the “Buy America” provision is merely a giveaway to union workers, the overwhelming majority of whom vote for and contribute money to Democrats. The bill sends billions of dollars to states to prop up their government programs – which special interest groups like the teachers’ union and human service advocates spend generously during campaigns to protect.
As a result, I will be here at my computer waiting, patiently, for “good government” groups like the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign and Common Cause to condemn this bill for all its special interest giveaways. The Democracy Campaign keeps trying to convince us that our corrupt government for sale to the highest bidder – no better chance to point that out than when Congress passes the largest lard-laden bill in American history.
Of course, this is a joke – because these “good government” groups are merely a front for liberals to push their ideology under the guise of cleaning up campaign finance. If they truly wished to clean up the system, they’d be cranking out press release after press release condemning the stimulus package. But since it was passed by their Democratic brethren, you will hear nothing but crickets from their phony outrage factories.
In fact, for the Democracy Campaign, corruption only apparently exists when the Legislature passes tax cuts, rather than new spending. Their evidence that the Wisconsin Legislature is corrupt is based almost solely on how many tax exemptions we have – not on how much spending we do to appease their big-government tastes. So, if you’re scoring at home:
Letting you keep more of your own money = “corrupt”
Using government to distribute your money to a select group of campaign contributors = “stimulus.”
Perhaps I’m being too negative. I’m sure their criticism of the biggest special interest spending spree in American history is forthcoming. If you see it, let me know – I’ll be out riding on my unicorn with Natalie Portman.
February 3, 2009 at 8:15 am
Christian, WPRI is a “think tank” in name only. It is funded by industry, and in my opinion that makes it a special interest group.
And there’s nothing wrong with that, as long as there is transparency in funding, but I’d rather see your special interests be the taxpayers instead. Seeing the advocacy of Wisconsin Democracy Campaign and Common Cause, I’ll support their issues over WPRI’s any day.
That said, the Republicans are mostly correct that their is massive pork in the Dem’s stimulus bill. Sort of like the Bush tax cuts and the Medicare drug program that will transfer $780 billion to the pharmaceutical industry.
But the R’s absolutely deserve every bit that is in the bill because they have supported our very pay-to-play political system that brought the spending bill to the forefront.
Live with it, or fix it. Get rid of the conflicts of interest in the political system as you would if these same conflicts existed in your business.
February 3, 2009 at 11:58 am
When J.Maynard Keynes suggested the US spend to stimulate the economy and make the difference between supply and demand, he never thought about parties or pork barrel interests. It was just to jump start the engine. Lets hope, that this particular large amount of debt driven demand has a s little as possible, though we also know thats not quite possible. The best that can be said right now, is that party spending is what it is. The GOP has spent the past 8 years enriching the accounts of few based on the same concept of spending, but its disguised as war so more pork can be hidden. The Dems have there chance at plate and we can only hope some remember economics has ripple affects and that is where the majority of stimulus should be used to stimulate demand. If not, we are all in alot worse trouble than appears.