WASHINGTON -- There were 9,000 pork-barrel earmarks buried in the $410 billion omnibus budget that passed the House last week -- giving bureaucrats 9 percent more money to spend in the remainder of this fiscal year.
President Obama told Congress the day before it passed that he was happy it didn't contain any earmarks, eliciting gales of laughter from the Republican side of the chamber.
Earmarks include $22 million for an addition to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and money for tattoo removals. These pork projects appear in the budget year after year, inching higher every year, deficit or not, recession or not.
Tom Schatz, the waste-watch warrior at Citizens Against Government Waste, told me that taxpayers have been bilked out of $95 billion since 1985 to research new wood technologies for furniture companies in 11 states.
This begs the question, why shouldn't furniture companies be paying for their own research? But that's the whole point of pork, to get ordinary taxpayers to shell out the money so others can keep their own.
Obama is going to sign this bill with nary a peep about billions being spent on the subprime spending projects stuffed into it by powerful, well-heeled special interests that live by this code: "Why pay for anything when you can reach into the federal till and let the taxpayers foot the bill."
Obama lives by the same code. The mortgage-bailout plan he and his advisers unveiled a week ago will subsidize renegotiated and redesigned mortgages to save the owners the indignity of going into foreclosure after buying a home they couldn't afford in the first place.
Who is going to pay for this subsidy? The beleaguered taxpayers who live within their means. CNBC's Chicago Board of Trade analyst Rick Santelli said Obama's plan was "rewarding bad behavior."
By my count, the administration in the past month has already put the government -- i.e., the taxpayers -- deeper into hock to the tune of $2.5 trillion over and above what we already owed.
And it gets worse. Contrary to Obama's budget-cutting rhetoric at the recent White House budget conference, the president is proposing a laundry list of new spending: for national health insurance, energy research and development, increased aid to education, more social-welfare spending and dozens of other costly initiatives.
If there's a problem on this Earth, Obama has a spending plan to deal with it, and it's going to cost us lots of money.
All this while the economy is flat on its back gasping for breath, families are struggling to make ends meet, and tax revenues have plummeted -- driving up the deficit and sending the Treasury into the bond markets to borrow trillions of dollars that will make the federal debt under President Bush look frugal by comparison.
Obama has already signaled how he intends to pay for his four-year spending spree. He will borrow unprecedented amounts of money from the capital markets, he will raise taxes on people, investors and anything else that still shows signs of life in this bleak economic environment.
Both will seriously undermine any recovery in our economy.
Cash-strapped businesses desperately in need of money will find themselves competing in capital markets with the U.S. Treasury, which will crowd out private investment that will slow economic growth in future years, according an analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
Obama intends to let two of Bush's across-the-board tax cuts expire at the end of 2010. That means the top-two income tax rates will automatically increase to a new average high of 40 percent when state taxes are included.
Obama said this will tax the rich, who do not pay their fair share. In fact, taxpayers in the top 10 percent not only pay most of all federal income taxes but their share of the tax-revenue pie has been growing.
And Obama's tax hikes do not just hit individuals. They will hit millions of small, unincorporated, often-family-owned businesses that pay their taxes through the personal-income-tax system just like everyone else. Hitting them with a 40 percent rate will kill job creation because this sector accounts for a huge share of the jobs in this country.
Actually, recent policy decisions by the administration have already been killing jobs.
The protectionist "Buy American" mandates in the just signed $800 billion spending stimulus bill have already triggered reprisals from trading partners at a time when U.S. exports are collapsing.
Then came the decision to stop new oil exploration and drilling in the Gulf, along with new restrictions on existing drilling, that instantly killed any new jobs that would have been created in a critical industry. Look for oil prices to rise accordingly.
This is the change Obama was talking about.
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