February 6, 2009

February 6, 2009 | Commentary on

Obama-Pelosi Bill Makes For Stimulating Reality TV

The American people are waking up. The behemoth Obama-Pelosi "stimulus" bill rampaging through Congress is just another bailout: this time to rescue big government from its own misbehavior.

From an entertainment standpoint, the biggest problem is finding a proper name. The bill deserves Hollywood treatment because it included such special goodies for Hollywood (at least until Sen. Tom Coburn (R- OK) played Grinch and got them removed). But it's a cacophony of ideas that only "Mad Men" could love.

It could be named "CSI" -- "Congressional stimulus Inefficiency."

Or "Ugly Betty."

It's time to drop the "stimulus" and "economic recovery" terms and call the legislation by its proper description: The Mother of All Government Bailouts.

The bill would be perfect fodder for TV's "Mythbusters." Its two biggest fairy tales are the notions that it focuses on infrastructure and tax relief. Less than 5% of the bill's $888-billion is for transportation (and only 3% for highways). The so-called "tax relief" is centered on sending government checks to people who don't pay income tax. Major long-term tax cuts are non-existent, unless they somehow show up on "Lost."

Too bad that "Lie to Me" has already featured a congressional story line, since truth is stranger than fiction.

More than anything else, the bill props up the business as usual attitude of Congress, to justify and enlarge its free-spending ways. Throwing money at problems is the government version of "The Big Bang Theory."

Congress is not rushing to help the country quickly; they're rushing to pass the bill before the public opposition overwhelms the Washington politicians. The "Numb3rs" aren't good. New Rasmussen Polling shows only 37% of Americans would support the plan while 43% are opposed. More importantly, 50% expect the ultimate bill may make things worse rather than better.

Polling also establishes that the more people learn about the package, the less they like it. Perversely, the package just keeps getting bigger, although it's taxpayers who will suffer the "Growing Pains." Anyone who doesn't know about the bill's boondoggles just isn't paying attention. About the only bad idea missing from the bill is tax amnesty for new White House appointees.

The gigantic new debt would mortgage our future and could send our economy "Six Feet Under."

There is no better candidate for "Extreme Makeover" than this government bailout bill.

While proposals from the Heritage Foundation and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) would help the economy produce twice the jobs at half the price, the version from the Pelosi-Obama-Reid Kingdom is more than just pork -- it's a big government buffet. Besides, a pork theme is more proper for "Iron Chef" than for Congress.

Tossing around all the "Dirty Sexy Money" creates its own temptations. Congressman Charles Rangel (D- N.Y.) and five congressional friends are under fire for taking a junket to the Caribbean just after passing last fall's Wall Street bailout bill. They said they were going to a conference sponsored with $100,000 of Citigroup's money -- the same Citigroup that received $45-billion in taxpayer money!

It's not just big government that gets bailed out by this bill. Just when news that the planet is cooling threatens the global warming crowd, this bill pours still-being-counted billions into programs to benefit the climate change profiteers. For them, this is an "Eleventh Hour" rescue.

Make no "Bones" about it: If we take a "Quantum Leap" of faith and buy this package, we're not likely to get "The Wonder Years." Instead, we'll be in "Jeopardy" from its price tag. Just how much debt do we expect our children to pay off? That's among the "Unsolved Mysteries" because it will add over $10,000 in new borrowing per each American household of four.

As Heritage's Ron Utt has pointed out, the bill is like a "Wheel of Fortune" for money-seeking lobbyists and special interests.

"The Biggest Loser" will be taxpayers of the next generation. The "Treasure Hunt" winners will be the states that get over $200 billion to bail them out from their overspending, especially California, where spending has exploded by 40 percent over the last five years and which has a $40 billion state deficit to show for it.

It's the private sector, not Washington, that creates productive jobs. Those who think otherwise need to visit "The Real World."

We need "Heroes" to stand up against this overreach by government, like the solid phalanx of Republicans and 11 thoughtful Democrats who opposed the House version of the government bailout bill. Save the dollars; save the country.

Ernest Istook is recovering from serving 14 years in Congress and is now a distinguished fellow at The Heritage Foundation.

About the Author

Ernest Istook Distinguished Fellow
Government Studies

First Appeared in Human Events