They say that to be a big-government liberal you have to be able to believe two mutually exclusive things at the same time.
We used to think that was, you know, a joke or something.
Last week, the Democratic Congress sent President Barack Obama a huge, $787 billion, “economic stimulus” spending bill. He signed it.
Then, on Tuesday, before even a penny of those billions had been spent, the president told Congress in a prime-time, televised address that the time for fiscal restraint has finally arrived; he intends to cut the federal deficit in half over the next four years.
The next day, the Democratic House approved $410 billion in new spending, bristling with earmarks, that will actually expand existing domestic programs.
Challenged on the new pork barrel, Rep. James McGovern, D-Mass., sneered, “The same people who drove the economy into the ditch are now complaining about the size of the tow truck,” referring to the large deficit increases amassed by the GOP-controlled Congresses of recent years, aided and abetted by Republican President George W. Bush.
Yes, Washington Republicans betrayed most of their smaller-government principles in recent years, and richly deserve to pay for that betrayal. But it was these same Democratic congressmen who were cheering President Obama Tuesday evening when he vowed to start paring back the deficit spending — in a year when the extraordinary costs of the banking industry bailout and the “stimulus” already are projected to grow this year’s federal budget shortfall to $1.75 trillion — more than triple last year’s record of $455 billion.
So they celebrate by spending $410 billion more?
Overall, the legislation approved by the House Wednesday would provide budget increases of roughly 8 percent for the federal agencies covered — at a time when most American families and private companies are trying to figure out how to survive on less.
Furthermore, after supposedly persuading lawmakers to keep earmarks out of last week’s stimulus bill (with highly debatable results), “Obama made no such attempt on the first non-emergency spending measure of his presidency,” The Associated Press reports. “The result was that lawmakers claimed billions in federal funds for pet projects — a total of 8,570 earmarks at a cost of $7.7 billion, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense.”
Among the earmarks was one sponsored by Rep. Howard Berman, D-Calif., who secured $200,000 for a “tattoo removal violence outreach program” in Los Angeles. Aides said the money would pay for a tattoo removal machine that could help gang members or others shed visible signs of their past.
Rep. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., said the bill included at least a dozen earmarks for clients of PMA Group, a lobbying company now at the center of a federal corruption investigation.
Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., took aim at a provision that he said would vastly broaden the government’s ability to invoke the threat of climate change to halt economic development. “Most all of the shovel-ready projects on the trillion-dollar stimulus bill would in fact be at risk,” he said.
And Democrats also inserted a provision into the bill to end a program that allows students in the District of Columbia to use federal funds to attend private schools of their choice. House Republican leader John Boehner, who helped establish the program several years ago, called the move — vocally opposed by minority families who saw the private-school subsidies as their children’s escape route from enervating multi-generational welfare — “hideous.”
Quite a day’s work. Wonder what they’ll spend tomorrow?