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The Big Scamulus Con

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

“Spendulus,” “Porkulus,” and “the Generational Theft Act of 2009” are all nicknames some have given to the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009” signed into law by President Obama last month.   In light of Obama’s most recent statements about the economy an even more accurate moniker might be “Scamulus” considering how obvious it now is that everything leading up to passage of the bill was a master con perpetrated on American taxpayers.  The con is not over either.  We have simply entered the next phase.

“Scamulus” had to be passed in a big hurry.  The rush was such that not only did Democrats and Obama break their pledge to allow for a 48 hour review period prior to the vote, but not even 24 hours were provided to read the 1400-plus page bill.  The urgency of the bill, according to President Obama, was because America was facing an "economic crisis as deep and as dire as the Great Depression” and we could not afford to wait even 48 hours because it might turn into a “crisis that at some point we may be unable to reverse.”

After the big rush through Congress the “emergency bill” sat for four days until President Obama signed it.  If it were not obvious then that the big rush had been a con, additional evidence would continue to mount over the next few weeks.  The strategy was calculated. It was deceitful. It was manipulative. It was opportunistic. It was un-presidential. And unless tax-paying American citizens speak up it will continue to be effective, with some tweaks.

One real reason the "stimulus" bill had to be passed in such a rush was because it had to happen before the economy had a chance to rebound on its own.  Not only were retail sales up in January,

advancing for the first time in seven months, showing strong increases in sales of automobiles and in general merchandise, but gas prices dropped significantly over the past several months.  Even those who did not lose their jobs during the recession suffered from $4 a gallon gas.  When gas prices dropped so significantly over the past few months, it put extra cash in peoples' pockets, making a measurable difference in many household budgets.  This all happened before the passage of the scam stimulus bill.

Declaring a catastrophe from which we might never be able to recover, scared the public into swallowing what otherwise would have been impossible to sell.  Obama had successfully created a dire emergency atmosphere that allowed passage of the bill.  As Vice President Cheney put it, Obama used ”the current set of economic difficulties to try to justify a massive expansion in the government, and much more authority for the government over the private sector.”

Obama has also talked the economy down to the point that just about any future improvement will look like significant recovery by comparison and be hailed as the product of the miraculous Obamessiah’s policies.  The media that downplayed, and sometimes just completely ignored, good economic news during the Bush years, will highlight each and every example of it over the next few years.  It has already begun.

Over the weekend I heard the following statement from Lawrence Summers reported as an indication that the President’s policies are working and that his new found optimism is valid:  “It is surely too early to gauge the broader economic impact of the President's program. But it is modestly encouraging that since it began to take shape, consumer spending in the US, which was collapsing during the holiday season, appears, according to a number of indicators, to have stabilized.”  As I cited earlier, at least one economic indicator, retail sales, was up in January for the first time in seven months indicating the collapse of consumer spending during the holiday season was already recovering in January, not only before passage of the major component of “the President’s program” in mid February, but for the most part before Obama was even sworn into office.  The news report on the Summers statement I heard made no mention of the January retail sales numbers.  Expect each and every positive bit of economic news to be attributed to the President’s plan, regardless of whether or not it is even possible for it to be related.

After the first part of the big con was completed, the gloom and doom talk was less necessary. After Scamulus passed, and the stock market continued to plummet, even Obama supporters began criticizing him for the damage his negative language had done.  Last week, Obama officially cancelled the catastrophe. He said at a Business Roundtable meeting, “I don't think things are ever as good as they say, or ever as bad as they say. Things two years ago were not as good as we thought because there were a lot of underlying weaknesses in the economy. They're not as bad as we think they are now.”  He also had administration officials carrying the message.

Back during the presidential campaign candidate Obama made quite a big deal, and scored some major political points by criticizing John McCain for saying “the fundamentals of our economy are strong.”  The AP reported, “Obama's team painted the veteran senator as out of touch and failing to grasp the challenges facing the country. But on Sunday, that optimistic message came from economic adviser Christina Romer during an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press."

GREGORY: So back then during the campaign when Senator McCain talked about the strong fundamentals of the economy, it was then-candidate Obama and his team that roundly criticized McCain, saying he was out of touch, he didn’t get it, he didn’t understand how bad the economy was. And yet now the president’s talking about the strong fundamentals of the economy.

So what’s different between then, the campaign, and now, except for the fact that the economy’s gotten dramatically worse?

ROMER: I think when the president says he’s focusing on fundamentals, what he means is — is we’re focusing on fixing the fundamentals; that we’ve always said we’re not looking at the ups and downs of the stock market, we’re looking for those crucial indicators: when are jobs turning around; when are sales turning around; when do we see consumers coming to life?

That’s the kind of thing that — certainly that I’m looking at in terms of when’s the economy going to be doing better and when can we see some hope.

GREGORY: Are the fundamentals of this economy sound?

ROMER: Well, of course the fundamentals are sound in the sense that the American workers are sound, we have a good capital stock, we have good technology. We know that, that temporarily we’re in a mess, right?

We’ve seen huge job loss. We’ve seen very large falls in GDP. So certainly in the short run we’re in a — in a bad situation.

GREGORY: All right, but then what’s different between now and then, when the economy was in even better shape than it is now, when McCain was saying the fundamentals were strong and then-candidate Obama criticized him?

ROMER: I think — again, I think what we’re saying is that the, you know, where we are today is obviously not good. We have a plan in place to get to a good place. I think that’s the crucial — a fundamentally crucial difference, is to make sure that you have put in place all of the comprehensive programs that’ll get us back to those fundamentals.

David Gregory made a good effort to get an answer, but all he got from Romer was that embarrassing fumble.  Major Garrett at Fox News had better luck from a source in the Obama administration.  When asked how what McCain said was different he was told, “Well he lost that spin war.  That’s why we’re here.”  Got that?  Translation:  we won the spin war and fooled the voters into putting us into office so now we can say anything we want.  That explanation would certainly explain why they thought they would get away with hyping the economic situation to scare people into accepting the huge “stimulus” bill. 

Mike Allen reports at the Politico, “The White House on Sunday began harnessing every part of the Democratic Party’s machinery to defend President Obama’s budget and portray Republicans as reflexively political, according to party strategists.”

It appears they are not going to argue the merits of the President’s policies so much as they are going to vilify Republicans.  I don’t blame them.  It has worked for them over and over again.  This time might just be different though.

As one blogger put it, “The Democrats have the White House and have huge majorities in both houses of Congress. They can pass anything they want with the vote of one RINO Senator, and there are at least three to choose from. If their legislation is meritorious, why not make the argument for it directly? The reason is that Obama's budget cannot win on the merits after transparent public debate, but if the Donks can make life difficult for Republican Senators from Maine and Pennsylvania by portraying them as inflexible partisans they might get their 60 votes in the Senate.”

In the Politico report about the campaign by a labor-funded ally of the White House accusing Republicans of playing politics and having no plan of their own, Boehner Communications Director Kevin Smith said, “If I had to defend the president’s budget—which is being eviscerated by both parties because it spends too much, taxes too much, and borrows too much—I’d probably waste time on fictitious claims like this, too.”

A Republican Senate leadership aide responded: ‘It really is a silly campaign. What are we saying ‘no’ to? Trillions in new spending? An unpopular, earmark-laden bill that the President himself was embarrassed to sign? A new national energy tax? Releasing Gitmo terrorists into the U.S.? We’d like to thank them for reminding the American people that we are saying ‘no’ to those things.’

What Democrats will most likely say Republicans are saying “no” to is the miraculous recovery we are already seeing begin to take shape.  It began last week with the President declaring things are better than he said they were three weeks ago.  It will continue with every positive bit of economic news being attributed to the “stimulus” bill.

The Republicans who stood in unity and opposition to the “stimulus” con are to be applauded.  If the media were doing their jobs they would be chasing down the three Republicans and all the Democrats who voted for the bill to ask them how they feel now that it is evident they were duped.

Although the media is under reporting them, when they report them at all, Americans are realizing they have been conned and are fighting back  in “tea party” protests across the country.  So far the protests have taken place in dozens of cities with thousands participating and many more are planned to take place over the coming weeks and months.  Now this is not so much about the scam “stimulus” bill that was passed in February as it is about all the legislation and spending the Obama administration and Democrats in Congress are proposing be passed over the coming year.  The con worked in the first round, but there are many more to go and it appears America is finally awakening from their hope ‘n change daze. 

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