N.Y. Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer took to the floor on Tuesday to sneer at public outrage over the trillion-dollar porkulus. "The American people really don't care," he said, about those "little tiny, yes, porky amendments." He punctuated his derision by pinching his pointer finger and thumb together. Only the "chattering classes" worry about such trivial matters, Schumer scoffed.
Well, we are all "chattering classes" now. Congressional phones and fax lines have been ringing off the hooks all week with complaints from angry constituents across the country. And just two days after Schumer declared that no one cares, the taxpayer group Americans for Prosperity delivered 400,000 petitions to the Senate protesting the behemoth bill. Those petitions were signed before the latest details of the House-Senate conference report negotiations had been disclosed -- and before any final legislative text had been made available to the general public.
If the stimulus plan were a Thanksgiving dinner entree, it would be a Turbaconducken -- the heart attack-inducing dish of roasted chicken stuffed inside a duck stuffed inside a turkey, all wrapped in endless slabs of bacon. But according to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's fantasyland "fact sheet" released early Thursday afternoon, "there are no earmarks or pet projects" in the final package.
Trust her no further than you could throw a pot-bellied pig. Despite the self-delusional declarations of Pelosi and President Obama that no pet projects exist, Hill staffers spilled the beans on several new set-asides tacked onto the bill.
Thanks to Michigan's Democratic Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin, General Motors will receive a special tax break worth an estimated $7 billion to cover liabilities incurred when it accepted its $13.4 billion bailout from the Bush administration. The failing automaker has lined up for an addition $4 billion in bailout funds -- at which time they'll no doubt ask for another mega-tax liability waiver. The moochers' cycle never ends.
Then there's Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's Railway to Sin City. Appointing yourself a Senate conferee has its perks. Roughly $8 billion in perks.