Addressing the Democratic Party faithful last week in Williamsburg, Virginia, President Barack Obama brought the house down with a now-famous bit of political sarcasm about the stimulus package. The bill is now ready for the president’s signature, having emerged from the congressional laws-and-sausages-making mill. The specialty is pork sausage, by the way.
During his remarks that night, Mr. Obama mocked some who have been characterizing the package as merely a “spending bill.” He asked, “What do you think a stimulus is? That’s the whole point.” Then as the audience burst into laughter and applause (one could almost hear a Ralph Kramden-like “Har Har Hardy Har Har”), he added, “No, seriously, that’s the point.”
These days it is accepted as gospel that government spending, spending, and more spending is the cure for America’s economic ills. Accordingly, still basking in the glow of an impressive victory last November, Democrats have gleefully used the cover of the current crisis to exact generational revenge on the politics and policies of those who decried big government in the past. Leaders such as Ronald Reagan and even, ironically, Bill Clinton who famously said the “era of big government is over” during his days in the Oval Office.
The president himself talked during his inaugural address about no longer wanting to define government as too big or small. He promoted a new standard; that being simply: “Does it work?” Well, if more is inherently better, then we are on the threshold of a golden age promising 17 chickens in every pot, with the pot itself made of gold, and a colorful rainbow not too far away. Bear in mind that rainbows are all image; no substance.
Is unleashed and unprecedented government spending a stimulus to the economy as a whole, or does it just grow the government? Is the real plan for all of us to become more and more addicted to the toxic drug of statism? When Gerald Ford traveled around the country giving speeches as a congressman, vice-president, and ultimately president, one of his few memorable lines (he was not known for his oratory) was that “a government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.”
Okay, so Ford was no Lincoln – but he did have a point. We all know the phrase “it comes with strings attached,” meaning that there are times when receiving something can have dire, if sometimes deferred, consequences. Well, those stimulus strings are beginning to look a lot like piano wire.