Must we always fight Washington policy wars using preferred Democrat terms? Today's example is the "stimulus package," or as ABC touts on screen during its newscasts, the Obama "Rescue Plan," as if the new president was donning Ronald Reagan's lifeguard uniform and pulling the economy out of the surf. Despite the dominant media terms, liberals like those at the Huffington Post are complaining the Democrats aren't effectively resisting "as Republicans seek to tar it as a 'spending bill.'"
Only in the world of politics does one "tar" an issue by calling a spending bill a spending bill. But Republicans and conservative activists are doing more than that. They're denouncing the bill's enormous size -- larger than the combined cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan up until now! They're also focusing on how it's light on actual "stimulus" items and heavy on grants pleasing traditional Democrat special interest groups.
Economist and blogger Robert Brusca estimated that only about 24 percent of the spending in the Senate plan can be categorized accurately as "stimulus," and the rest is either "cushion" for the hard times, or categorized as "agenda" spending, advancing Democratic policy dreams. Even if the stimulus is delayed, he quipped: "Does the administration go to Hallmark and buy us taxpayers a belated stimulus card? ... This is no Muhammad Ali plan (float like a butterfly, sting like a bee). It's more like float like a lead balloon, bite like a flea."
Bloggers at the Family Research Council (FRC) have been organizing all the "stimulus" silliness in the bill, as are other detail-oriented conservatives. The silly items Obama pushed them to yank -- subsidies for contraceptives and new sod patches for the National Mall -- are not atypical.
Let's start with $3 billion for "prevention and wellness programs, including $335 million for "education and prevention" of sexually transmitted diseases. FRC reports that recent government expenditures in this area include a transgender beauty pageant in San Francisco that advertised available HIV testing. Then there was the event called "Got Love? -- Flirt/Date/Score" that taught how "to flirt with greater finesse." Does this strike anyone as a plan to jump-start the economy, instead of someone's sex life?