A controversial $410 billion spending bill hits a snag in the Senate. This is the bill we've been talking about with about $8 billion in earmarks. Republicans and a few Democrats are mad about all that pork barrel spending. That led members from both parties to push President Obama to veto the bill.
Senate majority leader Harry Reid says the measure will be opened up for changes next week in an effort to gain more support. The bill is a hold-over from the last administration.
While Capitol Hill is working on a "compromise" I thought it fitting to take a look at how the usual suspects in the media are dealing with Republican leaders that dare speak out and identify elements of the stimulus package that have nothing to do with stimulating the economy. For this task I turned to Rolling Stone Magazine and quickly came upon an article headlined "The Unserious Opposition".
With the simple phrase "And look at what the GOP considers to be pork in this bill", Dickinson takes the common path of those that can't stop living in the past and sarcastically twists the list to portray the Republicans as "Cheneyite" ideologues. In his logic however we find a convoluted line of reasoning that is misleading at best. It exemplifies the typical approach taken by gushing media types that have forsaken their watchdog duties to become members of the Presidential fan club.
It's time to wave the white flag and surrender to "post-partisan" unity.
Yes, it's time for conservatives to abandon core principles and just allow the Pelosi/Reid/Obama pork-a-palooza, also known as the stimulus or the American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009, to pass into law. At least that's what one Newsweek columnist would have conservatives do.
Now is not the time for political bickering in this "post-partisan" era, said Newsweek columnist Michael Hirsh in a Web exclusive piece for Newsweek dated Feb. 4. Hirsh reflected on how Obama has lost grip on the "agenda in Washington," and complained how the debate on the stimulus has proceeded, "nitpicking over efficiency" instead of debating the size.
Don't like the notion of Wall Street employees receiving bonuses? Shoot the messenger - as Adam Green at The Huffington Post has done.
In a Feb. 2 post on The Huffington Post, Green said it was bad form for CNBC "Street Signs" host Erin Burnett to even think about considering the other side of the anti-Wall Street bonus argument, since some Wall Street banks received TARP funds, courtesy of the taxpayer.
"There are, though - well, how should we say this - the taxpayer money is not being used to pay the bonuses," Burnett explained on NBC's Feb. 1 "Meet the Press." "I think people could understand if you work for a company - right? If the three of us worked for a company, your guests, and I lost $10 billion but Steve [Forbes] over there, he made a billion dollars. So overall the company actually loses money, but Steve went and did his very darndest for that company and he made money. So should he be paid for his work? That's essentially what we're talking about here."
With all the populist sentiment generated from the economic slowdown by politicians, CNBC "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer is seeing eerie similarities with the comments of President Barack Obama and the words of a communist revolutionary.
Cramer, appearing on MSNBC's Feb. 2 "Morning Joe," drew comparisons between remarks between the first head of the Soviet Union, Vladimir Lenin, and Obama. Obama criticized Wall Street's moneymaking on Jan. 30, when he said there would be a time "for them to make profits, and there will be time for them to get bonuses. Now's not that time. And that's a message that I intend to send directly to them."
Cramer said that was similar to Lenin's writings. "Let me tell you something, we heard Lenin," Cramer said. "There was a little snippet last week that was, ‘Now is not the time for profits.' Look - in Lenin's book, ‘What Is to Be Done?' is simple text of what I always though was for the communists, it was remarkable to hear very similar language from ‘What Is to Be Done?' which is we have no place for profits."
Gee, and I thought I might be pushing the envelope on September 28 when I expressed concern that the "bailout" with the made-up $700 billion price tag that turned into the pork-loaded "bailout" with the made-up $850 billion price tag "blackmail" (though "extortion" may be the more appropriate word).
It is clear that this is indeed the case, at least twice over. First, there were the threats made by the Treasury Secretary, the President, and the Fed Chairman warning of a banking Armageddon if Congress didn't pass the bill.
Now there's clear evidence, reported with stunning casualness by CNBC, that Paulson & Co. threatened the big banks in some way to force them to "accept" Uncle Sam's preferred equity investments:
You've got to love brutal honesty, especially when it comes from the financial media.
The Senate's version of a bailout bill, which passed last night by a margin of 74-25, included "sweeteners" - or obscure tax breaks - including benefits for the manufacturer of wooden arrows used in children's toys and another for litigants in the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill.
Bush told the country that we are in an economic crisis and his Treasury Secretary, Henry Paulson, came up with an idea that would, it is claimed, end up actually making money for the U.S. Treasury in the long run. That's all well and good, but the Democrats already have a plan to siphon off any repayment of the people's money back to the treasury by adding one little line to the agreement that would end up stealing money from any repayments and giving it to left-wing political advocacy groups like ACORN, the National Urban League and the Hispanic group La Raza. Instead of trying to help the economy, the Democrats just want more money for their left-wing political constituents. It's business as usual for the Democrats, of course, but a bigger question is will the media let them get away with it?
On Thursday, the Senate Democrats shopped around a one page "Agreement in Principle" from the U.S. Senate Banking Committee that laid out their proposal for the bailout of the economy. At first it all seems rather straight forward, but hidden inside this document is one little line that proves that Democrats aren't as interested in the economy as they are in trying to extort a payday for their favorite political advocacy groups. Yes, even in a bill as important as the bailout the Democrats are trying to stuff it with pork!
In a Thursday story by Chris Fusco and Dave McKinney that has been linked by Drudge, the Chicago Sun-Times reported on the latest developments relating to what was supposed to be a Barack Obama-sponsored $1.1 million botanical garden in an economically blighted area on the South Side of Chicago -- complete with "a gazebo, a parrot sanctuary, and a walk of fame."
While an Illinois state senator in 2001, Obama, as the Sun-Times reported in July, "gave $100,000 in state money to a campaign volunteer who failed to deliver" on the initial phase of the work or to garner additional community funds, leaving "what was supposed to be a six-block stretch of trees and paths ..... a field of unfulfilled dreams, strewn with weeds, garbage and broken pavement."
Now Illinois' Attorney General is investigating, and has determined where much of the money went -- sort of (bolds are mine throughout this post):
Wednesday’s American Morning program ran a report by correspondent Abbie Boudreau that desperately tried to criticize vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin for a "Road to Nowhere" that was part of the infamous "Bridge to Nowhere" project. Boudreau interviewed Bob Weinstein, the Democratic mayor of Ketchikan, Alaska, who claimed that the Alaska governor "spent $26 million out of a federal earmark for the Gravina access, a.k.a. 'Bridge to Nowhere' project, on this road that will not go to a bridge." Boudreau also interviewed a toll booth operator and a former Palin campaign coordinator to agree it was a regrettable boondoggle. Throughout the report, the on-screen graphic proclaimed, "Road to Nowhere: Another Sarah Palin Project." CNN was implying to its viewers that both the infamous Bridge and the road from it were "Palin projects," as if she originated them, instead of appearing on the scene halfway into the story.
The media and the Obama campaign (but I repeat myself) are comparing the "experience" of'the Democrats' presidential nominee to that of the GOP's vice-presidential pick -- meaning, one must assume, that the debate over his experience vs. John McCain's is over, in McCain's resounding favor.
Let's look back a couple of months at a post I put up on July 14 (with minor revisions) that gives a, uh, concrete example of one of Barack Obama's management "experiences" -- one that the national media has (of course) totally ignored.
Friday's "American Morning" featured a segment dedicated to fact checking Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin's speech to the Republican National Convention. In introducing the reporter who did the fact checking, co-host Kiran Chetry claimed, "CNN's Deborah Feyerick is here to fact check Palin's speech and I'm sure whenever politics is involved we have to fact check these."
Apparently, though, "American Morning" only feels the need to fact check speeches given by Republican candidates because the morning show did not provide the same fact checking analysis of the Democratic National Convention speeches given by Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden or Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. They did, however, fact check former president Bill Clinton's speech to the Democratic National Convention and argued that some of his more conservative policies helped to usher in the "mortgage crisis."
Chuck Todd has some advice for John McCain: embrace Ted Stevens' demise. The NBC News political director made his suggestion in the course of kibitzing McCain campaign strategy with Joe Scarborough on today's Morning Joe.
CHUCK TODD: Joe, why isn't McCain jumping on this Ted Stevens thing? He hated Ted Stevens.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: He did!
TODD: He should be dancing on this guy's political grave today. This is the John McCain Republican party versus the Ted Stevens Republican party. And he ought to be, he ought to be gloating today. And he's not touched it.
Democrats think gas taxes are too low, and four-dollar-a-gallon gas is too cheap. Associated Press raised eyebrows with a story headlined: "No gas tax holiday: Congress considers raising pump tax to help repair crumbling highways." Reporter Jim Abrams found that "Now, lawmakers quietly are talking about raising fuel taxes by a dime from the current 18.4 cents a gallon on gasoline and 24.3 cents on diesel fuel." But the lawmakers he cited were Reps. James Oberstar and Peter DeFazio, both liberal Democrats.
John McCain is quoted briefly announcing that economists didn’t like his gas-tax-holiday proposal, and Sen. Jim DeMint is allowed to argue that Congress is wasting billions of highway dollars on earmarks. But almost the entire AP story is dedicated to the views of those Democrats and "nonpartisan" groups lobbying for a gas-tax hike.
Notice how reporter Abrams suggests that the objective truth is that highway spending is too low, but he makes no attempt to give the reader any idea what the budgetary trend is, whether spending has been increasing year after year. He merely suggests that current spending is below what Congress wants to spend:
"The biggest tab for taxpayers is defense," CBS correspondent Bob Orr reported. "The average American household is paying $2,761 in 2007 - or put another way, enough to cover 12 car payments for a new Honda Accord. Social security is nearly as expensive, $2,663 - enough to heat and cool a home for a year. In total, the average tax bill this year tops $13,000 and most taxpayers have no idea what the government is doing with their cash."
Of the three morning shows, only ABC's “Good Morning America” highlighted the implications of a new report on pork barrel spending by the group Citizens Against Government Waste [CAGW]. GMA was the sole network morning program to mention that Democrats broke their campaign promise to cut such pork projects in half. On Wednesday, NBC's “Today” show skipped the subject completely and although CBS's “Early Show” covered the report, correspondent Sharyl Attkisson ignored the $296 and $97 million, respectively, in pork spending that Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are responsible for.
GMA reporter Jake Tapper, while discussing the just released Pig Book, a CAGW compendium of wasteful government spending, announced, “Congress stuffed into the fiscal year 2008 spending bills 11,610 pork barrel projects, the second highest total ever.” Tapper alone highlighted this salient point about the differences between Clinton, Obama and Republican Senator John McCain: “Senator Hillary Clinton is the biggest porker of the three. 281 earmarks worth $296 million. Senator Obama is next. 53 earmarks worth $97 million. Senator John McCain has never requested an earmark.”
However, the glowing reception the $150-billion taxpayer-funded stimulus plan got from each of the network newscasts gave that impression last night.
"Cash is on the way," ABC's "World News" anchor Charles Gibson said. "The check is in the mail, or it will be to 117 million Americans. The president and congressional leaders reached agreement on a $150-billion economic stimulus package today. When passed by Congress, the package will result in the distribution of $100 billion to individuals and families. And it will mean businesses will get $50 billion in tax breaks."
The media does, and they have with Liberals devised the perfect way to do it. It is the "pay-as-you-go" Congressional budgeting rule -- Pay-Go. It requires every move that Congress makes be "budget neutral"; every new spending initiative must be paid for - no more deficit spending.
How could anyone, Conservatives especially, not be enraptured with such a concept?
The Contra Costa Times has given us an interesting new angle to fool the voters into voting for a new gasoline tax in an article titled, "Calling gas tax a 'fee' may help at ballot." In an opinion laced article, the CCTimes is advising politicians to call the tax hike a "fee" instead of a tax to fool the voters into accepting it at the ballot box. Throughout this piece is the obvious assumption by staff writer Erik N. Nelson that the county governments in and around San Francisco are "cash-starved" and that these taxes... oops, I mean fees... are needed because it is important that the governments "look for new funding" for roads and to "curb global warming." Not a hint that these governments have wasted the money they are already confiscating from the citizens, nor any investigation why some of the highest taxes in the country have not been able to satisfy the needs there.
The Fairfield County [Conn.] Weekly is one of those papers that is available for free at diners and bus stations, and it's usually very liberal in its views. (A sampling of recent article titles includes one where the author claims Rep. Chris Shays (R-Conn.) was checking out her décolletage at an event, and another calling former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales a "quaint torture-monkey.")
In the first read-through, this article took me by surprise...could one of Fairfield County's most cherished liberal institutions be going "right"? Entitled You're Worth It! For one measure of your worth to society, look back at all you W2s, author Phil Maymin tries to make sense of who is revered in our society and why. He goes through a series of examples (Bill Gates, sports stars, philanthropists and artists whose work gains wealth posthumously), and finally decides: