What are they thinking? – Part 2
By John D. Turner
10 Feb 2009

Are there any adults left in our government? What passes for politics these days in Washington reminds me of what happens when mom and dad go away on vacation and leave their home in the care of their 18 year old son. It’s party time!

The House passed its $819 billion “stimulus” package. Now it’s over to the Senate. The Senate, noting all the pork, and public outcry, recoiled in horror and immediately began setting about to “fix” the package. So here we are, a week or so into the process, and now we have a Senate bill that purports to have cut $130 billion – but now totals $930 billion in spending. Looks like our senators not only believe we are stupid, but we can’t tell addition from subtraction either.

Is there anything they are unwilling to spend money on? Well, yes. The President recently told the Pentagon to cut their budget by $50 billion. Apparently there is a lot of wasteful spending going on in that 5-sided building on the Potomac. Things like the F-22, F-35, modernization of our military hardware, and replacement of equipment that has worn out during the past 8 years we have been fighting the Global War on Terror.

I guess that spending money on STD prevention constitutes “stimulus” but spending money on our nation’s defense does not. We’ll just retrain those in the defense industry who lose their jobs as social workers, and move on.

So what sort of vital stimulus spending are we talking about? Let’s see some of the highlights

Title V – Energy and Water

Title VI – Financial Services and General Government

Title VII – Homeland Security

Title VIII – Interior and Environment

Title IX – Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education

Title X – Military Construction and Veterans Affairs

Title XI – Department of State

Title XII – Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development

Title XIII – State Fiscal Stabilization Fund

Whew! That takes us through page 251; all of Division A of the bill. There is still Division B – Other Provisions to wade through, and another wearing 396 pages. We haven’t even covered the bulk of the legislation! I guess I may need a “Part 3” and perhaps a part 4, 5, 6, etc.

One thing I have noticed from going through all this is that there sure is a lot of money in this bill for the Federal Government. It seems to be a government renovation bill on top of everything else. I guess a lot of offices will get new furniture this year.

I guess, to be “fair”, I should mention that the stimulus package does contain money for defense, outside the defense budget. While we may not have the tools we need should we get into a major conflict with someone other than terrorists, it is comforting to know that the Pentagon will get:

That is all Title IV of the bill, labeled “Defense” contains. I guess the most important stimulus the military can have is to make sure we have energy efficient light fixtures installed and to see if we can’t maybe convert our main battle tanks to hybrid vehicles. Perhaps we can come up with the world’s first plug-in tank.

And don’t think for one minute that Congress is just throwing large sums of “pork” at the DoD to spend as they like. The money is very nicely divvied up, to the dollar, between all the branches of the military, including the guard and reserve, ensuring that the resulting pots are small enough to have little overall impact. Keep in mind that Congress knows best, and it is self-evident that those knuckle-draggers in the military would have little idea how to properly spend the money on their own.

Additionally, there are various sections of law inserted at various points, such as

Both the Section 7003 and 7004 studies have to do with the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996.

Ok, enough already. If you are still awake at this point, congratulations! We will take up from here later – if I can summon the enthusiasm…