Immutable law of Beltway political physics: The only real jobs that a government stimulus stimulates are government jobs. A year after President Obama signed his first almost trillion-dollar economic stimulus package into law, the federal workforce is at an all-time high. The nation's unemployment rate has swelled to 9.7 percent, but Washington's economy is thriving.
More than 2.1 million government workers will be on the federal payroll by the end of 2010. The lobbying industry is booming. USA Today reports that 14 federal agencies have hired 3,000 workers to oversee stimulus spending and have spent nearly $190 million so far on salaries and overhead.
Just one-third of the stimulus money has been spent so far, but the White House is now hectoring the Senate to ram through yet another phony jobs boondoggle in the name of bipartisanship. As GOP Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas reminded Americans during the Republicans' weekly radio address, Obama and the Democrats promised a year ago that the jobless rate would remain below 8 percent with their stimulus legislation. "Americans are still asking, 'Where are the jobs? Where are the jobs?' But all they are getting from Washington is more spending, more taxes, more debt and more bailouts."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday that the Porkulus II plan -- reportedly with an $85 billion price tag -- was a "really nice piece of legislation." But you'll have to take his credibility-damaged word for it.
Despite anticipated votes on the bill before Presidents Day weekend, no one outside the Democratic leadership and K Street had seen an actual bill as of Tuesday afternoon. Few will read the whole thing before casting their hasty votes. And once again, we'll only be informed of the last-minute sweeteners, Cash for Cloture handouts and backroom deals after the ink of the president's signature is dry.
Reportedly, public-sector unions are pushing hard to include their precious card-check plan, which would allow Big Labor bosses to sabotage workers' rights to a federally supervised private-ballot election.
Reportedly, Democrats plan to stuff a reauthorization of the Patriot Act into the bill to make it harder for Republicans to oppose it.
Reportedly, Stimulus Jr. will also include a $20 billion bailout for the beleaguered federal Highway Trust Fund, which has been raided for years to pay for bike paths, beautification programs and other pet projects, while its core targets -- basic roads and bridges -- have deteriorated.
Reportedly, the Democrats will throw in some small-business tax breaks and a temporary payroll tax holiday gimmick, supported by some Republicans, for companies that hire unemployed workers.
What we do know for sure: The $154 billion Spawn of Spendulus passed in the House on a party-line vote in December is crammed to the gills with special-interest spending. Half of the money would go to government bureaucracies already overflowing with Stimulus One money. Nearly $30 billion would go to protect public-sector union employees in state governments.
While tax relief would be temporary (Democrats always make sure of that), the Reid bill will follow the House version in continuing the endlessly "temporary" extension of jobless benefits that will cost billions of dollars and encourage more and longer unemployment. That's on top of the $58 billion in jobless benefit extension funds paid out by Porkulus I. Senate Republicans voted against this permanent entitlement lard-up measure that has nothing to do with job creation two years ago. They should do so again.
In addition, President Obama wants $23 billion added for a fraud-friendly "Cash for Caulkers" weatherization program. Instead of returning the money to reduce the debt as stipulated in the law, Obama is also pushing to siphon $30 billion from the ever-morphing TARP bank bailout program to fund small-business lending initiatives.
"What I won't consider is doing nothing in the face of a lot of hardship across the country," Obama said this week. "Doing nothing"? How about leaving well enough alone, dispensing the rest of the original stimulus, retreating from debt-deepening, tax-increasing, economy-stifling initiatives from the government health care takeover to cap-and-trade, and refusing to redistribute tax dollars toward private job destruction and government job inflation?