In Charles Dickens' novel "David Copperfield," Wilkins Micawber delivers an economics lesson to young David that has been lost on most congressional Democrats, the president and many of us. "Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery."
The so-called "stimulus plan" cooked up mostly by House Democrats is, in reality, a plan to stimulate government and make it an even greater presence (and burden) in our lives. The appeal to speed and urgency by President Obama is an invitation to overlook details of the bill, which would accelerate the transformation of America from a capitalistic system that exalts the individual to a socialistic system that exalts the state.
Notice that in none of the apocalyptic rhetoric from the president and congressional leaders do we hear anything about the power of people to overcome the recession and restore the economy to health. There is no call for us to help ourselves first, with the aid of family and neighbors, and to employ vision, persistence and risk in climbing out of the recessionary hole. No, only government can save us, when, in fact, it is government (along with our greed) that has caused our predicament.
Robert Rector, a Senior Research Fellow at The Heritage Foundation, has studied the House bill. He finds it to be a resurrection of the welfare state, which many believe died during the Clinton administration with considerable assistance from the then-Republican Congress.
Rector notes that in the first year following enactment of the stimulus bill, "federal welfare spending will explode upward by more than 20 percent, rising from $491 billion in fiscal year 2008 to $601 billion in FY 2009." That would be the largest expansion of welfare in the nation's history. But it is only the beginning of Obama's pledge to "Joe the Plumber" to "spread the wealth around."
"Once the hidden welfare spending in the bill is counted," writes Rector, "the total 10-year fiscal burden (added to the national debt) will not be $816 billion, as claimed, but $1.34 trillion. This amounts to $17,400 for each household paying income tax in the U.S."
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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