September 1, 2009

September 1, 2009 | Commentary on Federal Budget

Criminal Stimulus

The Boston Herald reported last week that 23 criminals in Massachusetts, including four murders and five rapists, received $250 stimulus checks from the Social Security Administration. Those checks were issued as part of the President's $787 billion "stimulus" plan. The Herald later found that stimulus checks were mailed to 3,900 prisoners, costing taxpayers nearly $1 million. Further evidence that the federal government can't effectively provide economic stimulus.

Earlier this year, conservatives pushed for tax cuts -- even temporary ones -- to stimulate the economy. At a minimum, the Obama Administration should stop the runaway federal spending that may stimulate government jobs (and criminal spending) but won't help the broader economy.

It's the economy, Stupid

James Carville, a left-wing strategist for President Bill Clinton, built a successful campaign around the phrase, "It's the economy, stupid." The expression was used to demonize Republican President George H. W. Bush in 1992 as a leader who didn't care about the economy. Today Americans are uttering those words again.

Unemployment remains high, consumer confidence and spending remains low, and the politicians in Washington are borrowing and printing money at record levels. Meanwhile, President Obama is obsessed with crafting a health care takeover, taxing energy and productive Americans, and investigating Americans who fight terrorism.

The Americans who are packing town hall meetings are angry about President Obama's priorities, and clearly aim to push back against his harmful economic policies.

Rewarding Bernanke

The President re-nominated Ben Bernanke to head the Federal Reserve for another term. Senator Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) is disappointed by the nomination, and Bunning may ask Bernanke tough questions his Senate Banking Committee confirmation hearing. Americans deserve some transparency about how much risk the taxpayers are carrying before Bernanke is allowed another term at the Fed.

At a minimum, Bernanke should provide a detailed exit strategy from the expanded authority over private enterprise that the federal government is currently exercising. Bernanke needs to explain how he will attempt to control inflation, since his Fed greatly expanded the money supply in the last year. Furthermore, Bernanke needs to vow to say "no" to any new regulatory power for the Federal Reserve, because that new role would take the Fed's eye off its core mission: to control monetary policy.

Finally, he needs to denounce in no uncertain terms any attempt to set up an international financial regulator. A foreign financial regulator with the power to regulate companies in the United States is offensive to the idea of a constitutional democracy and would grant sovereignty to individuals who could, if they so desired, do irreparable harm to free-market capitalism.

Obama's Double Talk

The White House admitted last week that the deficit this year will balloon to a record $1.6 trillion. Meanwhile, President Obama's approval ratings are crashing and the voters are screaming at town hall meetings against socialized medicine. So it's no surprise that Attorney General Eric Holder decided last week to announce an investigation into Bush-era interrogation procedures.

"I also have a belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards," President-elect Obama once said to George Stephanopoulos on ABC. "And part of my job is to make sure that, for example, at the CIA, you've got extraordinarily talented people who are working very hard to keep Americans safe. I don't want them to suddenly feel like they've got to spend all their time looking over their shoulders and lawyering up."

Clearly the dipping poll numbers for Obama's priorities have made the promise of "looking forward" an empty pledge. Congressman Peter King (R-N.Y.) called the move "disgraceful," and there are strong policy objections to the inquiry.

This investigation serves the Keith Olbermanns of the world, who want to continue their obsessive-compulsive focus on the Bush administration. The bottom line is that with Obama's popularity and policies in the dumps, the Obama administration sought to change the subject and continue a campaign against the left's favorite straw man, former President George W. Bush.

Ted Kennedy, Rest in Peace

The Senate has lost a liberal icon. Now Democrats in Massachusetts are considering changing election law to insure that a Democrat fills Kennedy's seat within the next few weeks. Doing so would mean there will still be 60 Democratic votes in the Senate, allowing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to continue to run it with an iron fist.

Ironically, Massachusetts liberals are victims of their own electioneering. In 2004, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) was running for President and Republican Mitt Romney was governor. Democrats in the state legislature changed the law then to prevent the governor from appointing a replacement. Now they want to change the law back so the governor can appoint a replacement without a special election.

The United States Senate can decline to seat a Senator. If it decides this was a pure political ploy by Governor Deval Patrick to pack the Senate with another vote for Obama's priorities, Senators should just say no.

Brian Darling is director of U.S. Senate Relations at The Heritage Foundation

About the Author

Brian Darling Senior Fellow for Government Studies
Government Studies

First Appeared in Human Events