Carlisle: Stimulus bill a mess
At the start of every work day, a man of the cloth will stand before the House of Representatives and the Senate to pray for divine guidance to the assembled members of Congress. If ever a city needed guidance it’s Washington, DC ” although it’s also hard to imagine a place less receptive to wisdom from on high.
Employing the theory that some kind of prayer to some kind of god must be better than no prayer at all, priests, reverends and ministers alternate with the occasional rabbi and mullah in hopes of finding the right invocation to the right god on the right day. The results speak for themselves, and with the economy in recession, of course, the Congress is employing the same scattershot theory that some kind of spending for any damn fool purpose must be better than no spending at all, assembling a rat’s nest of spending now guesstimated to total $900 billion ” a total which includes neither interest nor the $750 billion authorized last year. With unanimous agreement that the money should be spent, but with no consensus on how the money should be spent, the Congress is throwing everything into the economic stimulus package but the proverbial kitchen sink.
So far, there is money for reverse commute programs, to prevent gang violence in California, and to develop the 211 telephone service. Federal money will provide screenings for glaucoma, provide 100 percent reimbursement for medical assistance provided to Native Hawaiians, establish a national psychology post-doctoral fellowship program, issue a postage stamp in honor of Juan Nepomuceno Seguin, mint coins to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of NASA, lift the trade embargo on Cuba, and to legalize devices which interfere/jam cell phone transmissions. There’s cash to provide targeted job programs for veterans, for kids, for the middle class, for seniors, for dislocated workers and adults, and for other-abled workers. There will be jobs for nurses, physicians assistants, and midwives, as well as 100,000 new classroom paraprofessionals. There’s a Green Job Corps program, a YouthBuild Build Green Grants program, and a Green-Collar Youth Opportunity Grants program.
There are giveaway programs as well, cash handouts to first responders, ethanol producers, and $10 billion to local governments that have suffered significant losses due to highly rated investments in failed financial institutions. The legislation includes money for a flock of new government entities such as the National Hurricane Research Initiative, a National Commission on Entitlement Solvency, the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail, the Independent Commission on the 2004 Coup d’Etat in the Republic of Haiti, the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park, and the Steel Industry National Historic Site. Without a trace of irony, the bill creates a Personal Social Security Savings Program so you can invest your Social Security contributions in stocks and bonds.
We’re spending money (the how is a little vague) to provide comprehensive health care coverage for all children born after 2009, to reduce unintended pregnancy, and to reduce abortions. The Feds will sell 25 acres of land to the Turnabout Ranch in Utah, designate as wilderness almost all of the Rocky Mountain National Park, adjust the boundaries of the Indian Peaks Wilderness and the Arapaho National Recreation Area of the Arapaho National Forest, establish the Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area and the Dominguez Canyon Wilderness Area, and close public access to much of the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Just how these latter actions provide jobs or economic relief is known only to Colorado’s Congressional delegation which added them. Curiously, they added no money or mention of improvements to the I-70 corridor, forest management (think beetles and fires), or drought preparations. For an omnibus bill of these proportions not to include funding or even reference to these three latter items speaks either to the impunity or the lack of imagination of our Congressional delegation. If the needs of the other states are as poorly addressed and if a god is listening, then we’ll have no stimulus bill instead of this uncoordinated mess.
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